Ramapo Mountain State Forest: Van Slyke Castle


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Ramapo Mountain State Forest protects 4,269 acres in the mountainous region of Northern New Jersey. It is in both Passaic and Bergen Counties and is a separate park from the adjacent Ramapo County Reservation.


There is a well-marked network of trails here. I met up with a local hiking group in the upper lot on Skyline Drive. In my previous visit to this park, I’d begun at the lower lot.


After hiking down to Ramapo Lake, we walked around the lake on the Blue trail and ascended the White/Castle Trail to the ruins of Van Slyke Castle.


Once up top, we had great views of the NYC skyline, Ramapo Lake and another body of water.


Van Slyke Castle was built in the early 1900s by two of Ruth Cole’s three husbands. Her second husband, William Porter began the mansion on Fox Mountain and called it Foxcroft. Porter died before it was completed and Ruth continued the construction, re-naming it after her third husband Warren Van Slyke.


After Van Slyke died in 1925, Ruth lived there until 1940. The mansion was left to her family who sold it. It was then abandoned during a bitter divorce. It burned down in 1959, leaving behind the stone walls.


We explored the castle ruins before looping around, past a water tower, to return to Skyline Drive.


Ramapo State Forest Posts:


Location: Skyline Drive, Wanaque, NJ 07465

Designation: NJ State Forest

Date designated or established: 1976

Date of my visit: 9/1/2019