The Teaneck Creek Conservancy is a 46-acre tract that forms a part of Overpeck County Park. Once used as a dump for debris generated during the construction of the nearby interstate highways, the area has been rehabilitated and a trail system constructed. For the most part, the vegetation screens the adjacent developments from view, and even the noise from the nearby highways is often drowned...
The Teaneck Creek Conservancy is a 46-acre tract that forms a part of Overpeck County Park. Once used as a dump for debris generated during the construction of the nearby interstate highways, the area has been rehabilitated and a trail system constructed. For the most part, the vegetation screens the adjacent developments from view, and even the noise from the nearby highways is often drowned out by the chirping birds. At times, it is hard to believe that you are in the midst of densely developed Bergen County!
The trails in the conservancy were reopened in January 2023 after being closed for several years for ecological restoration. In the course of the restoration, many trees were removed, so the conservancy has a more open appearance than it did prior to the restoration. All trails in the conservancy are nearly flat, but at this writing, they are not accessible to the handicapped (the stepping stones used to cross several streams cannot be navigated by wheelchairs or scooters). The trails are marked intermittently with paint blazes on trees. Despite the small size of the conservancy, it is easy to lose your way if you are not familiar with the area, so be sure to take a map along.
To begin the hike, descend wooden steps near the southeast corner of the parking lot and turn right onto the Red Trail. On your left, you will notice several concrete plaques – formed from rubble that was dumped in the area – on which information regarding various species of migratory birds that frequent the area has been inscribed.
After crossing a bridge, you’ll pass on the left the entrance to the Dr. Ben Burton Butterfly Garden. Just beyond, you'll notice an interesting silver maple tree with numerous trunks.
At the next intersection (just beyond a bridge), turn left onto a wide path surfaced with finely crushed gravel (to the right, the path leads to DeGraw Avenue). This is the route of the Green Trail. After traversing an open area, you'll cross two streams on stepping stones. Just beyond the second stream crossing, turn right onto a wide path covered with wood chips. This section of the Green Trail, which follows a winding footpath through a forested area, has a more natural appearance than the other trails in the Conservancy.
After crossing the next bridge, you'll notice on the left a gate in a fenced area, known as the Labyrinth. Here, chunks of concrete (“rubblestone”) have been arranged to form a circle in the center. Along the sides are several animal figures that have been carved into tree trunks, as well an elaborate wooden teepee frame. You may want to spend a few minutes here to examine these interesting features.
Soon, you’ll cross a wet area on stepping stones and reach the banks of Teaneck Creek. Here, the trail bears left, following the creek. You’ll pass a concrete-and-steel footbridge over the creek, which leads to office buildings on Frank Burr Boulevard (do not cross the bridge). On the left, you’ll notice a wetland with cattails, a native species. You’ll also pass a huge willow tree.
At the next intersection, turn left onto the Red Trail, passing a color trail map on the left. Just beyond, you’ll reach the Five Pipes – huge sections of concrete piping, left behind during the construction of the nearby interstate highway. These pipes have been painted by students with scenes depicting the various natural features of the area and the human relationship to the land in several historical eras. This section of the Red Trail follows the route of the Public Service trolley line that operated between 1899 and 1938, connecting Paterson with Edgewater (where a ferry took passengers to New York City). A section of the trolley rail has been placed adjacent to the trail.
Continue ahead on the Red Trail to the next bridge. Here, on the right, is Dragonfly Pond, where you may observe various species of wildlife during the warmer months (the pond may be dry during periods of drought). Now retrace your steps to the Five Pipes and the map, and turn left, crossing a bridge. Teaneck Creek is on your right, and the Glenpointe development is visible through the trees beyond. You’ll pass a large wetland, as well as some more huge willow trees, on the left.
At the next intersection, there is a bridge on the right, but you should bear left and continue on the Blue Trail. Follow this trail to its end at Puffin Way. Here, you cross an area covered with gravel and enter the parking lot for 20 Puffin Way, from where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 05/19/2006 updated/verified on 05/02/2023
This hike traverses an interesting wetland located in the heart of Bergen County.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.