Whether you love to be outdoors year-round, or are only itching to get outside now that the sunshine has arrived, as a current Ridgewood resident — or a prospective one — you have plenty of pristine spots to choose from. This leafy region is practically bursting with sparkling lakes, rolling ancient mountains, and foliage-rich forests teeming with life. From beautifully landscaped spaces to ones that have barely been affected by human activity, the nature here is truly eclectic. Below we've outlined 5 spectacular locations near Ridgewood where you can immerse yourself in the geography of these gorgeous counties and spend a peaceful day or weekend surrounded by luxuriant vistas and fresh air.
Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park is known for its peaceful ambiance which attracts paddlers, water sport enthusiasts, and fishers. A peaceful canoe set against a backdrop of beautiful fall colors is not an uncommon site in this tranquil jewel of a park. Despite Wawayanda's serene disposition, the park is not unheard of — in fact, it even contains a slice of the Appalachian Trail. It's home to a variety of scenery, from shaded duck ponds to sandy shorelines, marshes, and — in the winter — quiet, snow-powdered cross country ski trails.
Estimated driving time from Ridgewood: 54 minutes
Ringwood State Park
Ringwood State Park is at the core of the rugged and wooded Ramapo Mountains. This expansive park is all about contrasts — at one moment it will seem entirely secluded; the next, you'll come across one of its many famed landmarks. The park is home to the architectural masterpiece that is Ringwood Manor, as well as the stunning State Botanical Garden. Swim, splash, hike, and explore through this classic NJ bucket list destination.
Estimated driving time from Ridgewood: 29 minutes
Norvin Green State Forest
Norvin Green State Forest is truly one of the most lush oases you'll come across. Green in every direction, this park is illuminated with the sound of babbling brooks and rustling leaves. Here you can wind through gradually climbing — and meticulously maintained— trails leading to forested peaks which grant you striking panoramas of the mountains, rocky plateaus, and even the NYC skyline.
Estimated driving time from Ridgewood: 33 minutes
High Mountain Park Preserve
High Mountain Park Preserve is the site of gently cascading waterfalls, wildgrasses, and broadleaf trees. Within the bounds of the preserve, you can uncover rare vegetation, amazing rock formations, and may even spot an animal or two. Take in panoramic skyline views of New York City's iconic buildings.
Estimated driving time from Ridgewood: 18 minutes
Garret Mountain Reservation
Garret Mountain Reservation is a little different than some of the other places mentioned on this list in that its infrastructure and combination of the natural and man-made are precisely what makes it special. Beautifully groomed and landscaped, Garret Mountain Reservation features athletic courts, cricket fields, running and ski trails, bridle paths, al-fresco eating areas, and even a boathouse. It is home to the prestigious Lambert Castle Museum and Barbour Pond.
Estimated driving time from Ridgewood: 30 minutes