Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Hike: The Rockleigh Woods Sanctuary and the Lamont Reserve
by Laurie Cochran

Saturday, February 7, 2009
Trip Coordinator: Bob Rancan
Trip Participants: Bob R., Carole B, Karen, Harris R., Dave S. & Laurie C.

Rockleigh is located in the northeast corner of Jersey bordering the towns of Alpine, Norwood, Closter, and Tappan, NY.

Six members met at 10:00 am behind Rockleigh Borough Hall off Piermont Ave. on Rockleigh Rd. We hit the trail at about 10:15. We stopped along the way to view & discuss the birds and vegetation in the area. The weather cooperated, it was a nice sunny day and the temperature reached 47 degrees. The icy stream, a tributary of the Sparkill Brook, caught our attention as the ice formed beautiful crystals and the flow of water under the ice was intriguing. Ice covered stepping-stones made the crossing a little more treacherous, but all succeeded with maybe just a wet foot here and there. Proper footwear comes in handy in these types of situations! We passed through pretty ravines. Yellow, blue, and red blazes mark the three trails. This Rockleigh/Alpine trail system is known as “a cross within a circle “ as various combinations of hikes and lengths are possible. All start and end at Rockleigh Borough Hall/Fire House where there is limited parking available.

The trails were fairly easy, a few steep hills, but mostly moderate slopes. We bushwhacked up to a stone foundation we suspect was a ‘spring house’, which holds spring fed water. Along the trials we saw signs of animal life. In the snow we saw tracks of deer, mouse/mole and dogs. The mice/moles leave trails burrowed just under the snows surface. It was fun following the trail to the base of a tree where a tiny den was located. We explored the area looking for ‘scat’. Some birds we saw were Black-capped Chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals, turkey vultures, goldfinches, woodpeckers and crows. We saw a few deer running through the woods also.

Members commented how quiet it was hiking these trails. At one point, you could hear the faint hum of cars on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The sound of the babbling brooks, the occasional chirping of birds and our discussions were about the only noises out there. Not much air traffic in that area either.

We found an interesting hollow tree, which allowed us to stand inside for a nice photo opportunity. Near the end of the hike was Sneden Ice Pond where a few kids were ice-skating. It brought back some fond memories of childhood. We found a nice log to sit on to enjoy our lunch. Karen brought some homemade chocolate chip cookies that were delicious. After lunch and friendly conversation, we headed on our way and finished the hike at 1:30.

Bob enjoyed telling stories and history about the area. It made it interesting.

This park is a nice walk in the woods. Come out and try it sometime!