Hike in Blauvelt State Park
Rockland County, NY
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, February 20, 2016
It was too warm a winter day for a nice hike in the woods. Nonetheless, 15 of us met at the parking area of Tackamack Town Park in Orangetown and after shedding some coats and trying to figure how many light layers would suffice, we set out on the trail northward into Blauvelt State Park.
Most of what is now Blauvelt State Park was transferred to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by act of the New York State Legislature in 1913 after it was decided to close the State Militia Rifle Range because of multiple complaints by the residents of Grand View on Hudson of stray bullet damage to homes and property. The Park Commission established Camp Bluefields to accommodate requests by Campfire Girls and later the YWCA for summer camping opportunities for females. The U.S. Army returned during World War I and reestablished the range for the duration. For the better part of 100 years the system of concrete protective tunnels, target walls, firing lines has lain undisturbed as a second growth forest has grown up in and around the structures. Well, undisturbed until the graffiti phenomenon took hold. Now, it seems the artists are active year round as we observed several signed panels dated 2016, and it was only February. It's a constantly changing canvas as bright new colors are applied over old work.
Anyway, it was a good day and we hiked out the Long Path to an overlook of the Hudson and the Tappan Zee Bridge, observing the construction of the new Bridge as well as a Black Vulture that had landed below us to feed. The nature highlight was a circling immature Bald Eagle that I just was able to identify before it disappeared amongst the trees. Thanks to Tom D., Al G., Sumonnat K., Lori Y., Bryce H., Henry and Lois S., Bob and Beth K., Herta D., Rich H., Mary J., and Monica Orso for the photos and Jim Ghaler for leading a few people off to find the geocache and the link to the old photos of the range and camp for the geocache website.