Trail Map – I had the printed map…and AllTrails. But there are a ton of extra bike trails and intersecting woods roads.
Hike Distance: 11.93 miles
Trails: Ringwood Manor (blue), Crossover (white), Cooper Union (yellow)
Note: Ok, I know my version of 50 Hikes In New Jersey is old, I believe it is the second edition, published in 1997. I know there is a new(er) edition, that has some different trails in the list (2020 I believe) – I get it, there have been trail modifications/reroutes, trails removed, new trails, new blazes, etc. Heck, I’ve experienced it as I have worked through the list of trails (and I’ve almost got them all.) However, I want to call out this week’s hike. I tried to link hikes 8 and 10 (in my version of the book.) In the book, the Ringwood Manor trail is listed as a mile and a half; my gps said 3.37. And the book says their version of the Cooper Union trail was three and a half miles. Obviously, my mileage was vastly different. Either their pedometer was grossly off (for their hikes) or the trails have been substantially rerouted. And I don’t think it was the latter. Ok, rant over, no more chitchat, time to get on the trails.
I started with the Ringwood Manor trail, and I couldn’t really find the trailhead. I wandered the Ringwood Manor grounds until I found blue blazes, and I eventually found the actual trailhead. The first portion of the Ringwood Manor trail goes by Sally’s Pond on your left, though I think that’s a local name, maps show it also as Ringwood Mill Pond. I traveled clockwise on the loop, so if you keep it on your left, you’ll do just fine.
The first stop on the trail is to Erskine Cemetery. The cemetery contained many more stones than I expected. And, it was extremely quiet and peaceful here, I could have stayed for hours, just sitting on a bench overlooking the pond – extremely therapeutic. However, heavy wind and rain was expected later in the afternoon, and I did not want to get caught in that. A note on the cemetery (and I’ll borrow from the book – or at least, paraphrase.) Many of the names found in the cemetery are “titans” in the early mining industry of north Jersey that predate the Revolutionary War. These names make up familiar and famous trails and parks in northern New Jersey: Morris (Morris Road), Patterson (the city), (Robert) Erskine (a surveyor for Washington and manager of the mines) and Hewitt (Hewitt State Forest.) Side history note (you had to expect this from a park like this): Peter Cooper (Cooper Union trail – named after his railroad) bought the property, then sold it to Abram Hewitt. Erskine Hewitt donated the manor house and property to the state. His nephew, Norvin Green (the state forest’s namesake) added more property. Further donations included what would become Ramapo State Forest and Ramapo County Reservation.
Quiz next week.
There are lots of markers for children.
This headstone has a great example of the winged skull, a New Jersey “tradition(?)” at the time. WeirdNJ has a great story on the evolution of the winged skulls.
The Hewitt markers:
I believe that is (or was) a sanctuary for the Order of Saint Francis across the pond.
Robert Erskine’s markers:
The grounds were well kept and easily walk-able. You can see on my map a real spaghetti bowl of lines where I walked the cemetery grounds. It was quite easy to walk around with plenty of room to be respectful of the actual graves. In one spot I found a huge group of striped wintergreen growing.
Finally, as old and clear as some of these markers are, there are many many other markers that are just rocks standing up. I’m sure the archaeologists have found the presence of graves – the markers either never existed or have been lost to time.
I came across these bushes…and I would find them all along the hike. It’s invasive. And it was all over.
It created some really cool tunnels to walk through though.
And then I happened on this:
That kept my head on a swivel. I never saw him, but I’m sure he was around nearby.
While walking along the back portion of the Ringwood Manor trail, I came across a tree and log where it looked like the Honey Mushrooms and Turkey Tail were locked in a fierce battle.
Just before finishing the Ringwood Manor trail I came across another one of those tunnels.
Now the fun began. I planned on hiking Cooper Union. I just had to figure out how to get to it. I knew I needed the Crossover trail, but getting to that trail wasn’t clearly marked on ANY map. Using GPS, I tried to figure it out – it entailed crossing water and the road. And you can see my little wandering on my map, it’s that path in red that heads to 1:00 on the western side of Sloatsburg Road. When I came to this bridge, I realized that there had to be a better way.
And really, I probably could have hopped the gate and crossed. But I didn’t want to take a chance, there was at least one board missing. Someone sitting at a picnic table mentioned to me that there was another bridge about 100 yards south and it would connect to the trail. I didn’t see it on the way to this point, but I figured I would give it a whirl.
Well, it’s not quite that simple. It is easier to walk from the parking lot, back to the entrance hut. Walk to the Waterwheel, when you get to the Blacksmith shop on your right, turn left towards the carriage barn / art activity center.
Walk down the driveway (the carriage house is really cool) until you come to this sign:
Of course, enter, but IMMEDIATELY turn right and lo and behold, you’ll see:
My little (initial detour) added an extra mile and a half hour to what I was already doing.
Back on trail, it was easy to follow. Another tunnel:
The Cooper Union trail crosses two roads. In between Morris Road and Carletondale Road the Cooper Union trail contains many junctions with unmarked trails and woods roads, no doubt used by the cycling community. I came across numerous bikes on this hike, only getting run over once. Right after crossing Carletondale Road I came across these structures.
When I came to the loop portion of the Cooper Union trail, I headed left to complete the loop clockwise. There’s a great view at the top, just below the summit.
That’s Windbeam Mountain across the Wanaque Reservoir. Yep, been up there on the Stonetown Circular hike. After sitting for a while, I looked at my map, and realized this was going to be significantly longer than the 5+ miles I thought it would be. I sat a little longer. It was breezy, and the colors are just starting to pop – you can sort of get a sense of it from the picture. I won’t be here next week to see it in bloom, but I suspect it will be great.
After that, I climbed a short bit to the actual summit and started back. Downhills looked like this:
Gorgeous. But treacherous – the leaves covered rocks and roots, so footing became tricky.
Cutting through the pipeline cut, I found this guy:
The trip back was pretty uneventful. I found another log covered with Turkey Tail, and I don’t know how I missed it on the trip out.
Just before crossing the road back to the parking lot, I found these mushrooms all growing in a line.
I really enjoyed Ringwood State Park. The manor house wasn’t open for tours (of course I would have) because work was being performed on the roof. The grounds were really nice, and it explained a lot of the history I’ve been wondering around for the last little bit.