Welcome to Buttermilk Falls Park! Located in West Nyack, New York, the park features a scenic waterfall and two western views where on a clear day you can see up to 16,000 acres. The 75 acre Buttermilk Falls Park was purchased by Rockland County with additional acquisitions in 1981.
Buttermilk Falls Park is location in a portion of the Palisades ridge north of the Sparkill Gap. The Palisades are located along the western shoreline of the Hudson River in southeastern New York and in north eastern New Jersey. Rocks found in the Palisades are known as diabase and were formed during the Triassic period around 200 million years ago.
Buttermilk Falls consists of a mixed-oak forest community including the following species among others:
Welcome! Today, using the above trail map (taken from the Rockland County New York Website), we are going to explore some of the 75 acres that make up Buttermilk Falls Park! Along the way, we’ll see some cascades and check out some cool western views. The total hike is an estimated 1.2 miles. Ready? Let’s go!
From the parking lot we are going to head northeast on 0.9 of a mile blue blazed trail.
Entering the park on the blue trail, the path starts flat but we find it is deceiving as we start to climb.
But before we start any kind of climbing let’s take a quick scan of some of the flora that’s sprouting near the entrance. What’s this plant that sort of looks like little bamboo shoots sprouting up everywhere alongside the trail? It’s Japanese Knotweed, a obnoxious invasive plant which, once established, is generally there for good. Japanese Knotweed forms monocultures, excludes native plants and does not provide any benefit to wildlife.
Leaving the Japanese Knotweed for now the Blue Trail is taking us up some wooden steps.
However, we soon find that the steps end and now we must drudge up the hillside through a pleasant woodland. All around us is American Beech, Black Birch, Northern Red Oak and Chestnut Oak among other species of trees.
Taking another look at the flora coming up, what’s this 3 leaved spiked covered plant popping up all over the place? It’s Wineberry. Wineberry is native to Asia and is an established invasive plant in the United States.
Continuing on we start hearing the sound of water, a good sign as we must be approaching Buttermilk Falls!
Whew! After all that climbing (it wasn’t that bad) we have arrived at Buttermilk Falls. The stream comprising Buttermilk Falls is a Hackensack River Tributary and joins the Hackensack River just north of the Lake Tappan Reservoir.
Taking a look around the forest floor we spot the leaves of Trout Lily, a native woodland plant which blooms in early spring. And here you thought all we would be looking at is invasive plants! The “trout” in it’s name is said to come from its mottled leaves which are said to resemble wild trout.
Heading southeast on the blue trail we come to an open area on the trail with Eastern Red Cedar and occasional trap rock.
We have also come to the first of two view points. This view has us looking south towards New Jersey and west towards the Ramapo Mountains which are part of the NY NJ Highlands region. It is said that President Teddy Roosevelt rode horseback through this area stopping at this point for a view when he was in the area.
Continuing southeast on the blue trail we pass the .21 of a mile Orange Trail trail head. If you follow the orange trail across Schuyler Avenue, you will intersect the Long Path at Sean Hunter Ryan Memorial Park.
Shortly after we pass the orange trail trail head we arrive at the second westerly viewpoint. What a beautiful day! From an ecological perspective we are currently in a traprock glade/rock outcrop surrounded by dry grass and forb-dominated species.
Leaving the second and last viewpoint we continue on the blue trail and pass a small but interesting plant known as Dutchman Breeches. Dutchman Breeches are a native to the eastern US. The flowers (which have since wilted) are said to look like old fashioned breeches hence its name.
Tired? Want to take a seat? There is a seat carved out of the diabase to our left. Neat!
After a series of switchbacks we have come to the end of the Blue trail at the intersection with the white trail. Turning right on the white trail we walk in a north west direction.
What’s that up ahead? Someone long ago dumped an old car off of the White Trail.
Looking to our left we pass by an old rock wall which is a sure sign the land we are walking on was at one time farmland.
Looking ahead we spot a boardwalk further down the White Trail.
Just past the swamp we have reached the end of the White Trail at the parking lot where we started our hike. And that concludes our hike! I hope you enjoyed it and that it inspires you to visit Buttermilk Falls County Park for yourself!
Click Here for Directions!
Feel free to Comment with any Questions, Memories or Suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!
Special thanks to M. DiMola of Rockland County Parks Department for helping to review and update this post.
1. The Nature of New York – An Environmental History of the Empire State – This work offers a sweeping environmental history of New York State
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2. Eastern Deciduous Forest Ecology and Wildlife Conservation – This book is a useful tool for anyone who wants know or hopes to help one of North America’s great natural resources!
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