Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cannonball Trail to Ramapo Lake /
DuPont Trail Closure

Ramapo Mountain State Forest,
Bergen & Passaic Counties
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Hoeferlin Memorial Trail: Yellow blaze
Cannonball Trail: Red blaze
Pool Hollow Road: Unblazed
South Ridge Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 1:55 hours
Estimated Distance: 4.5 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Not recommended
Points of Interest: Historical Trail, View, and Ramapo Lake

When Interstate 287 was built, it cut off a small section of Ramapo Mountain State Forest, including a part that contains the historical Cannonball Trail. The Cannonball Trail is the remnant of an old revolutionary-era road used to bring supplies from the Paterson area up to Suffern, New York, supposedly to avoid detection by the British troops. When the highway was built, instead of cutting off the hiking trail, the highway department wisely built a pedestrian bridge to preserve the trail. I have passed under this bridge many times and had determined to hike there, but had not got around to it until this hike.

It had been actively raining all day the prior day, and was still wet and drizzling during this hike, but that didn't deter me. I had looked on the trail map and saw the terminus of the Cannonball Trail on Barbara Drive in Pompton Lakes. When I parked there at the location, there were threatening posted signs plastered along the entire area. I was confused, and decided to leave the area and change my itinerary by parking at the Hoeferlin Memorial Trail Trailhead at Pool Hollow Road. More about this later.

I parked at the trailhead, crossed the railroad tracks, and went along the trail which traversed some driveways and then went into the forest. I continued along the Hoeferlin Trail along the old abandoned road bed, and then met up with the Cannonball Trail which join together at this point to cross over the interstate highway. I continued along the Hoeferlin Trail as it climbed up the hill, and then proceeded to the first lookout. Due to the weather, the looking was shrouded in low cloud cover with very poor visibility.

I then turned around, but instead of continuing along the Hoeferlin Trail, continued along the old Pool Hollow Road Trail to the southern end of Ramapo Lake. The southern end is swampy and not nearly as aesthetic as the northern part. At this point I picked up the Cannonball Trail, headed south towards the highway, crossed the highway, and then continued south along the Cannonball Trail.

Near the end of the Cannonball Trail, it meets up with the South Ridge Trail. At this point the Cannonball Trail is supposed to continue towards Barbara Road. However, the trail markers just disappeared and trail seemed to disappear unmarked in an overgrown field. This had me very confused as to how this historical trail just ended before reaching the trailhead at the road. I scratched my head in confusion and then took the South Ridge Trail up and down the ridge back to the Hoeferlin Trail and back to my car.

Upon returning home, I decided to look into the odd nature of the disappearing Cannonball Trail by Barbara Road. A Google search pulled out several pages on this, where I discovered that the small strip of property of the Cannonball Trail at this point is owned by the DuPont Corporation. The DuPont Corporation historically provided access across their property to this site all these years, and for some unexplained reason decided to post this part of this property as off-limits. This effectively cuts off the southern-most tip of the Cannonball Trail.

The Cannonball Trail is an old and historical trail. It has been accessible and enjoyed by hikers, bikers, and joggers for decades. For DuPont to decide one day to block off all access is a travesty. Now for the record, this same DuPont facility is responsible for contaminating the entire area of with toxic materials including lead salts, mercury compounds, explosive powders, chlorinated solvents, waste wire drawing solution, and detonated blasting caps. DuPont has initiated a massive clean-up and remedial operation to try to save themselves from this environmental disaster. So for them to go ahead block access to public hiking trails at this time is a public relations disaster on their end. As it turns out, many news channels are reporting that DuPont does in fact seem to be shirking their responsibilities in cleanup operations. That's not surprising, as they seem not to care about the public or outdoor enthusiasts who care about the environment.

I recently went to their website which is dedicated to this cleanup operation, and left them a message explaining my dismay at their closing of the trail. I hope everyone reading this blog does the same, and perhaps they will see the damage they are causing to the community and reverse their decision.

For some news articles on this, see:

Map of the Route. North Jersey
North Jersey Trails Eastern Map.
Note this early map edition lacks the Interstate 287!

Approaching the I-287 Footbridge on the Cannonball/Hoeferlin Trails.
This Definitely had an eerie connotation to it.

Walking Inside the Pedestrian Bridge

The Hoeferlin/Cannonball Trail Right after the Bridge

Directly Above Interstate 287

The Foggy View Along the Hoeferlin Trail

Rock Face at the View at the Hoeferlin Trail

Pool Hollow Road

The Southern, Swamp Edge of Ramapo Lake Behind the Tress

Cannonball Trail Marker

Confusing Posted Sign as the Cannonball Trail Abruptly Ends at the DuPont Property

Interesting Horse Barn and Sign at the Pool Hollow Road Trailhead.

1 comment:

  1. Checking in nine years later - Still officially closed. Coming from Barbara Drive where there were many no trespassing signs and a hole in the fence it was not too difficult to see across the field to where the trail ascends - there were no trail markings on the ascent, but it was not overgrown.