Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rockleigh Woods Sanctuary and Lamont Preserve Completion

Rockleigh and Alpine
Jersey Palisades
Bergen Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Hutcheon Trail: Blue blaze
Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail: Yellow blaze
Lamont Rock Trail: White blaze
Brookside Trail: Orange blaze

Total Time: 1:40 Hours
Estimated Distance: 2.65 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Recommended for a quiet area

Points of Interest: Quiet scenic area with a nice network of trails
Cons: No views and anti-climactic

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

The weather was once again very warm, with a high in the upper 50's. However it was damp and cloudy, so I figured this was a good day to complete the trails in this area since it lacks a good view. I had been here about a month earlier, and did not have a chance to complete all the trails in the area, so I decided to return to complete them all. Once again it was very quiet here; we encountered only one person the entire hike.

We parked in the small lot by the playground behind Rockleigh borough hall. We took the Hutcheon Trail a short distance to the Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail, which gradually climbs up the mountain. At the top, we took the Lamont Rock Trail Briefly to the Brookside Trail, which descends along the side of the brook cascading down the mountain. We took this trail to the Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail, taking the loop all the way back around and then towards Sneden Ice Pond. We took the loop around the pond, and then continued along the Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail back to the entrance towards our car.

Map of the Route.

Beech Trees with their Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail

Cascade Along the Brookside Trail

The Stream Cascading Down the Mountain from the Brookside Trail

Another View of the Stream Cascading Down the Mountain

Sneden Ice Pond

Senden Ice Pond

Woman Who Was Dog-Sitting About 6 Dogs Along the Trail

Friday, December 25, 2015

MacMillan Reservoir Loop

Ramapo Valley County Reservation
Bergen Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Schuber Trail: Orange blaze
Reservoir Loop Trail: Pink blaze
Silver Trail: Silver blaze

Total Time: 1:25 Hours
Estimated Distance: 2.9 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended

Points of Interest: Scenic lakes
Cons: Lots of people

Although I was off from work, I had to go in to get something from from the office, which is right nearby the Ramapo Valley County Reservation. The temperature was once again unseasonably warm, in the mid-60's. This was yet another December hike in short sleeves. I was at this same area at the beginning of December, and found the new Reservoir Loop Trail. This wasn't on any of my maps, so I was curious where it would take me. It turns out that its a nice loop around the Macmillan Reservoir. On the hiking kiosk at the parking area, it shows a newer map that has this trail labelled as the Reservoir Loop.

I parked at the main parking area, contented with the large groups of people until I reached the Schuber Trail, and then headed towards the waterfall. The waterfall was very strong due to all the recent rains. I continued along the Schuber trail to the intersection of the Silver Trail, and then continued to the Reservoir Loop trail, which I took around the reservoir. I then took the busy Silver Trail back to the MacMillan Reservoir, crossed over the bridge, and headed back to my car.

Map of the Route. North Jersey Trails

Waterfall Along the Schuber Trail

Brook Along the Schuber Trail, Draining the MacMillan Reservoir

Spillover from the MacMillan Reservoir Dam

MacMillan Reservoir from the Dam

MacMillan Reservoir from the Rocky Promenade on the North Front

MacMillan Reservoir Nearing the North End

North End of the Macmillan Reservoir

New Bridge Crossing the Inlet of the MacMillan Reservoir

At the North End of the MacMillan Reservoir

At the Southern Exposure of the MacMillan Reservoir

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Lake Henry Sunset Hike

Continental Soliders Park
Bergen Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Lake Henry Path: Unblazed

Total Time: 0:30 Hours
Estimated Distance: 1 Mile
Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended for a short pretty walk

Points of Interest: Nice lake with waterfowl
Cons: Non Dramatic

It was a beautiful, late December day, with temperatures peaking at 70 degrees! My office is very close to this location, so I took the opportunity to take this short walk instead of my lunch break. It was about 45 minutes to dusk, and I encountered several fisherman as well as a beautiful white swan in a close encounter. The pictures below were taken with my cell phone camera because that is all I had with me.

Map of the Route. North Jersey Trails Eastern Map

Path Around the Lake in a Snowless and Spring-Like December

Lake Henry from the Western Shore

Bridge over the Lake Henry Inlet, with a Swan Across the Brook 
The Swan , Taken From the Bridge

Beautiful White Swan

Dusk Approaching Over Lake Henry

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bonticou Crag and Table Rocks at Mohonk

Mohonk Preserve
Shawangunk Mountains
Ulster Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Crag Trail: Red blaze
Bonticou Road: Unblazed carriage road
Bonticou Ascent Path: Yellow blaze
Northeast Trail: Blue blaze
Table Rocks Trail: Blue blaze

Total Time: 2:45 Hours
Estimated Distance: 5.5 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Very difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Great views and great scramble
Cons: Entrance Fee

Mohonk is one of my favorite hiking locations in the area. It has some of the best scrambles and most interesting rock formations. This was a bright and Sunday December day, a day before the official start of winter. The weather was warm for this time of year, though not quite as warm as the 60 degree weather we have been accustomed to for much of the fall.

The area was very quiet, despite it being Sunday. There was much room in the parking area and I hardly met anyone along the trails. I parked at the Spring Farm parking area at Mohonk, which is slightly past the main entrance. There is a $12 entrance fee to get in with a guard stationed at the parking lot. From the parking area, I walked up to the Million Dollar View, a northwestern-facing view of the Catskill Mountains with no obstructions in-between. I then headed up the Crag Trail to Bonticue Road, which I took to the Bonticou Ascent Path.

The Bonticou Ascent Path is a very steep and difficult trail, traversing large talus boulders in a very challenging scramble. Upon completing the ascent, you are afforded with an excellent view on both sides. From the top of Bonticou Crag, I took the Northeast Trail northeast along the ridge to its end. There are several good views along the way with a steep cliff along the western ridge flank. I then took the Table Rocks Trail northeast to the Table Rocks, which is another view with deep fissures in the rocks forming ice caves. The Table Rocks Trail is a dead-end, which I turned back around on, and continued along all the way back to the parking area.

Map of the Route.
Shawangunk Trails, Mohonk Preserve Map

Million Dollar View at the Beginning of the Hike, Facing the Catskills

Beginning of the Bonticou Ascent Path 

The Route of the Bonticou Ascent Path

Scrambling Up the Talus at Bonticou Crag

Looking Down While Ascending Bonticou Crag

Interesting Rock Formations While Ascending Bonticou Crag

Steep, Narrow Passage of the Trail Ascending Bonticou Crag

Nearing the Top of the Bonticou Scramble

At the top of the Scramble, Facing North

View from Bonticou Crag Facing North

View from Bonticou Crag Facing East Towards the Marlboro Mountains

Bonticou Crag, Facing South

The Straight Cliff Down from Bonticou Crag

Looking Northwest from the Bonticou Crag View

View Along the Northeast Trail, Facing East

View Along the Northeast Trail, Facing Northwest Towards the Catskills

Another View from the Northeast Trail, Facing Northwest

View at Table Rocks, Facing West

Table Rocks Exposed Shawangunk Quartz Conglomerate

Deep Fissure in the Rock At Table Rocks

A Very Deep Ice Cave at Table Rocks

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bear Swamp Lake

Ramapo Valley County Reservation /
Ringwood State Park
Bergen Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Schuber Trail: Orange blaze
Macmillan Reservoir Loop Trail: Pink blaze
Red-Silver Trail: Red & Silver blaze
Shore Trail: Blue blaze
Hoeferline Memorial Trail: Yellow blaze
Halifax Trail: Green blaze
White Trail: White blaze
Ridge Trail: Blue blaze

Total Time: 2:55 Hours
Estimated Distance: 7.0 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Slightly difficult
Level of Recommendation: Recommended

Points of Interest: Scenic lakes, lots of trails
Cons: Lots of people in the beginning, too many human structures

This was a very Warm day for mid-December, reaching a high in the 60's. I had left in the morning with a light jacket, but as the hike progressed and the day warmed up, I took off the coat and hiked the rest in short sleeves. Overall the entire November and December had been exceptionally warm.

This area is very busy on weekends, especially nice weekends like this one. In fact, it was so busy that when I finished my hike and left, the large parking lot was entirely full! Though once you get past Macmillan Reservoir, the crowds entirely disappear and there is hardly a person in site!

I started off at the main parking area, crossed the bridge going across the Ramapo River, and veered left to the beginning of the Schuber Trail. This trail starts off going alongside the Ramapo River, and then juts westerly towards the mountain. It cuts through the mountain by the stream, where there is a well-known waterfall. I veered off slightly to take some pictures of the waterfall (which did not come out too well), and then headed back on the trail. I continued along towards the reservoir, and then veered off slightly on the Macmillan Reservoir Loop Trail, and crossed over the dam.

I continued back on the Schuber Trail past the reservoir to the Red-Silver Trail, which continued climbing and eventually took me to Bear Swamp Lake. This is a scenic lake far off the beaten path. At this point, I went south along the Shore Trail, which goes around the lake, went over the bridge by the dam at the southern outlet of the lake, and then went north along the western rim of the lake. I took this to the Hoeferline Memorial Trail, and then to the Halifax Trail. I took this trail to the White trail and then the Ridge Trail, where I veered off towards the view, and then continued along the trail back to Scarlet Oak Pond and back to the parking area.

Map of the Route
North Jersey Trails Eastern Map

Pair of Swans in Scarlet Oak Pond

Scarlet Oak Pond with Hawk Rock in the Background

Piece of River Foam Floating Down the Ramapo River

Old Structure on the Schuber Trail on the Foot of the Mountain
Was Recently Destroyed

Waterfall Along the Schuber Trail

MacMillan Reservoir

Me at the Macmillan Reservoir

Sign Posted About Brook Trout in Bear Swamp Brook

Incredible Picture Reflection in Bear Swamp Lake

Bear Swamp Lake Near the Outlet Bridge

Bear Swamp Lake Outlet

Another Reflection Picture in Bear Swamp Lake

Communications Tower Disturbing the Nature
Off the White Trail

Beech Trees with their Dried Brown Leaves Remaining

At the View of the Ridge Trail

Another Picture of the View by the Ridge Trail