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Rockleigh Woods Sanctuary and Lamont Reserve Loop#3
This hike loops around this sanctuary, on the western slope of the Palisades, climbing a scenic ravine along a cascading stream and passing several features of historical interest.
Allowed on leash
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Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to Exit 4. Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto Route 9W (if coming from the north, turn right onto Route 9W) and proceed for 1.1 miles, entering New York. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Oak Tree Road and, in 0.2 mile, turn left onto Closter Road. In 0.5 mile, after crossing under the Parkway, you reenter New Jersey, and the road becomes Rockleigh Road. Continue for another 0.2 mile to the Rockleigh Municipal Building (26 Rockleigh Road) and turn left into the driveway. Park in the rear of the building.
This hike traverses two preserved tracts on the western slope of the Palisades – the 84-acre Rockleigh Woods Sanctuary, located in the Borough of Rockleigh, which purchased it in 1975, and the 134-acre Lamont Reserve, located in the Borough of Alpine, and purchased jointly by the County of Bergen, the Borough of Alpine and the Borough of Rockleigh in 1996. Both tracts were formerly part of Camp Alpine of the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America.
From the parking area, follow a handicapped-accessible path to a playground, where three blue blazes on a tree to the right mark the start of the Hutcheon Trail. Follow this blue-blazed trail past a “Green Acres” sign into the woods.
In a short distance, you’ll notice a triple yellow blaze on a tree to the right. Turn right and follow the yellow-blazed Sneden-Haring Trail, which heads south, closely paralleling the sanctuary boundary. Continue to follow this trail as it turns right and crosses a brook on a culvert. To the right is the Sneden Ice Pond (the level of the pond is currently low because the dam has been breached). Just beyond, the trail turns left at a signpost.
As the trail approaches the wide Roaring Brook, the blue-blazed Hutcheon Trail joins from the left, and both trails cross the brook on rocks (the crossing can be difficult when the water is high). On the other side, turn left and follow the blue blazes, which parallel the brook. Soon, you’ll notice a triple-orange blaze, which marks the start of the Brook Connector Trail, on a tree to the left. Turn left and follow this trail, which continues to parallel the scenic Roaring Brook, with views of the cascades in the brook below.
After climbing along the brook for a quarter mile, the Brook Connector Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Lamont Rock Trail. Turn right onto this trail, which descends briefly, then bears left, crosses an old, eroded woods road and passes by an area with many trees toppled during Hurricane Sandy. The Lamont Rock Trail briefly joins the yellow-blazed Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail, but when the two trails diverge, turn left and continue to follow the white blazes.
The Lamont Rock Trail now climbs steadily, soon passing two old stone cisterns. It continues to climb to Lamont Rock (a huge boulder), on the left. Just beyond, the white trail turns left and is joined by the Red Circle Trail of Camp Alpine, Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America. Follow the joint white and red trails as they climb on a footpath to the highest point in the preserve (440 feet), from where the Hudson River can be seen through the trees during leaf-off season.
The joint trails now turn right and begin to descend. Soon, the Red Circle Trail leaves to the right, but you should turn left and continue along the white-blazed Lamont Rock Trail. In about 0.2 mile, the yellow-blazed Sneden-Haring-Lamont Trail joins from the left, and the Lamont Rock Trail ends just beyond.
Bear left and follow the yellow trail along a wide woods road, crossing Roaring Brook on rocks. A short distance beyond, turn left onto the red-blazed Roaring Brook Trail and follow it as it descends along the north side of the brook. At the base of the descent, the Roaring Brook Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Hutcheon Trail. Turn right onto the blue-blazed trail, which descends gradually, crossing a stone bridge over a brook, and follow it all the way back to the parking area where the hike began.