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.
Welcome to a virtual tour of the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve!
The 147 acre preserve consists of three bodies of water (lagoon, upper lake and lower pond) deciduous wooded wetlands and wooded upland habitat. The Borough of Franklin Lakes purchased the land in 2006 from the Borough of Haledon for $6.5 million using funding from Green Acres and the Bergen County Open Space Fund. The preserve was open to the public in June of 2011.
The 75 acre Upper Lake is the centerpiece of the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve and is an extremely popular fishing spot. The Upper Lake, created from the impoundment of the Molly Ann Brook in 1919, provided water to Haledon, North Haledon and Prospect Park. The Molly Ann Brook is the last tributary of the Passaic River before the Great Falls in Paterson.
The Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve features 2 primary hiking trails. Access is available from Ewing Avenue, a small parking lot off of High Mountain Road and from nearby High Mountain Park Preserve’s Red Trail via Reservoir Drive and crossing High Mountain Road.
The main trail is the 1.5 mile white blazed Shoreline Loop Trail which encircles the entire Upper Lake and Lagoon.
Starting from the parking area, the trail heads over the dam separating the Upper Lake from the small pond to the south. The trail follows alongside the Upper Lake and near High Mountain Road and Ewing Avenue.
The western portion of the Island Bridges Trail is accessible near where the Shoreline Loop Trail passes by Waterview Drive.
Beautiful views of the Upper Lake with High Mountain visible can be seen from this area. After exploring the western section of the Island Bridges Trail (the Island Bridges Trail is about a half a mile in length) head back to the Shoreline Loop trail which will briefly exit the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve near an outflow from a neighboring swamp (you can also continue via two floating bridges on the Island Bridges Trail to continue to the eastern side of the Shoreline Loop Trail skipping the entire northern section).
Once the Shoreline Loop Trail enters back into the preserve, the trail crosses backwater of the lagoon.
Continuing on the trail you will cross the Molly Ann Brook over a wooden bridge. Frogs can be heard (and sometimes seen) splashing into the water here during the warmer months.
From here, the Shoreline Loop Trail heads east near a church and near a new housing development. Along the way, the trail comes across a basalt beach.
Basalt was formed when molten lava extruded out of the earth’s surface and cooled rapidly. Basalt is found in nearby High Mountain Park Preserve which is situated on the 2nd Watchung Mountain. Once past the basalt beach, the trail turns south. The eastern section of the Island Bridges Trail is accessible from this point.
After exploring the eastern section of the Island Bridges Trail, head back to the Shoreline Loop trail and continue south until the trail terminates near a picnic area in a pine grove near where the trail began. Accessible Trails have been constructed in this area and intersect with Shoreline Loop Trail. The Accessible Trails will remain unblazed and are not currently maintained by the NYNJ Trail Conference.
NYNJ Trail Conference has blazed and will maintain both the Shoreline Loop and Island Bridges Trails.
Flora found at the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve includes the below among others:
Fauna that I’ve spotted at the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve includes:
This preserve is a great place to explore and just relax. Directions are listed below (as taken from the NYNJ Trail Conference Website)
Take N.J. Route 208 to the Ewing Avenue exit in Franklin Lakes. Turn left at the end of the ramp (if coming from the west, turn right) and continue for about two miles until Ewing Avenue ends at High Mountain Road. Turn left onto High Mountain Road and continue past a lake and a smaller pond on the left. In 0.5 mile, at the end of the smaller pond, you will see a small brown sign for the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve on the left. Turn left into a driveway, passing old reservoir buildings on the right, then turn left again at a sign for parking and continue to a parking area just below the dam.
Note: Part of the preserve, including the entrance and parking, is in North Haledon (Passaic County).
The address for the preserve is 1196 High Mountain Road, North Haledon, N.J. 07508
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions!
Great Hiking/Ecology Books:
1. 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: New York City: Including northern New Jersey, southwestern Connecticut, and western Long Island – Packed with valuable tips and humorous observations, the guide prepares both novices and veterans for the outdoors. From secluded woods and sun-struck seashores, to lowland swamps and rock-strewn mountain tops, this practical guidebook contains all the information needed to have many great hikes in and around New York City.
Click here for more information!
2. Take a Hike New York City: 80 Hikes within Two Hours of Manhattan – In Moon Take a Hike New York City, award-winning writer Skip Card shows you the best hikes in and around The Big Apple—all within two hours of the city.
Click here for more information!
3. Eastern Deciduous Forest, Second Edition: Ecology and Wildlife Conservation – This book is a useful tool for anyone who wants to know or hopes to help one of North America’s great natural resources.
Click here for more information!
4. Protecting New Jersey’s Environment: From Cancer Alley to the New Garden State – With people as its focus, Protecting New Jersey’s Environment explores the science underpinning environmental issues and the public policy infighting that goes undocumented behind the scenes and beneath the controversies.
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Wild New Jersey invites readers along Wheeler’s whirlwind year-long tour of the most ecologically diverse state for its size in America.
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The Tenafly Nature Center & Lost Brook Preserve (TNC & LBP) is a beautiful estimated 380 acre preserve located in Tenafly, New Jersey. The preserve has the Montammy Country Club to the North, Route 9W and the Greenbrook Nature Sanctuary to the east and residential development to the west and south. In addition to featuring relaxing hiking trails, the preserve boasts a 3 acre waterbody known as Pfister’s Pond which attracts a multitude of wildlife.
Outdoor wildlife exhibits include two Barred Owls and a Red-Tailed Hawk. These raptors were previously injured prior to coming to the nature center and cannot survive on their own in the wild. Other attractions include the the John A. Redfield Building which includes the Stephen Minkoff Memorial Library and indoor animal exhibits.
The nature center provides public & after school programs as well as a summer day camp. There is also a butterfly garden, backyard habitat exhibit, picnic area and an outdoor education pavilion.
The land that was to become the TNC & LBP was sold in lots by 1874. Over time, the land owners could not afford the taxes and the lots reverted back to the town. The land was purchased from Tenafly by developers in the 1950’s. In 1958, a plan to construct 225 houses was approved by Tenafly but the plan lapsed. Developer Bernard Gray proposed building a million dollar country club in 1960 but later backed out.
In 1962, NY developer Norman Blankman proposed to build 300 homes and a golf course on the land. Tenafly swapped 60 acres of land with Blankman in 1963 to consolidate his land and the boroughs. The 60 acres became the Tenafly Nature Center. Soon after the consolidation, Blankman abandoned his original proposal and created a plan to develop 5 office buildings and a golf course. This development was rejected by Tenafly’s planning board. After other development ideas came and went, Blankman sold the land to Centex Developers in August of 1973 for 9 million. Centex proposed the construction of 1,780 houses, town homes and apartment complexes on the land. The land, valued at around 8.5 million dollars, was condemned by Tenafly which wanted to purchase the property for preservation purposes.
Tenafly completed the purchase of the land in 1976 using Green Acres funding, bonds and donations from the public. The new preserve became known as the Lost Brook Preserve. Tenafly Nature Center took over management of the Lost Brook Preserve in 2005 bringing the total acreage of TNC & LBP to 380 acres.
In 2009, the Bergen County board of chosen freeholders announced a $900,000 grant to the Borough of Tenafly to acquire once acre of land adjacent to the nature center. The nature center’s intent is to let the land revert to forest via succession. The acre is uphill of Pfister’s Pond whose streams drain into the Tenakill Brook, an important tributary of the Oradell Reservoir which is a source of drinking water for a large percentage of Bergen County.
An estimated 7 miles of blazed trails are waiting to be explored at the TNC & LBP.
All trails are directly or indirectly accessible from the estimated .5 of a mile Main Trail which can be accessed from the parking lot of the Tenafly Nature Center.
The Main Trail is the unpaved continuation of Hudson Avenue which heads from the parking lot down to Route 9W. The yellow, white (De Filiipi) and Bischoff Trail are accessible to the north of the Main Trail and the Red Trail, Allison Trail and Little-Chism Trail are accessible to the south of the Main Trail. The Main Trail passes by the historic Lambier House (private property) where Lambier Brook dead ends to the south of the trail. Beautiful viewpoints of the 3 acre Pfister’s Pond are visible to the north of the Main Trail. Wild Geranium grows along the side of the trail in springtime.
The 1/3 of a mile interpretive Yellow Trail is the best introduction to the TNC & LBP. Numbered markers found throughout this trail match with this booklet providing excellent information on the flora & geology of the TNC & LBP including topics such as American Chestnut, New York Fern, Diabase Trap rock and much more.
At the end of the booklet there is a quiz to test your knowledge. The yellow trail follows the western border of Pfister’s pond and features a 50 foot watchable wildlife viewing dock that extends out on the western border of Pfister’s Pond.
The trail then heads east and south to rejoin the Main Trail in a loop fashion.
The eastern side of Pfister’s Pond is accessible via the .4 of a mile white trail (aka De Filippi) trail. The white trail is accessible from the Main Trail or the western terminus of the Bischoff Trail. The trail traverses north near the eastern border of Pfister’s Pond passing the De De Filippi shelter on boardwalks before turning east and then turning south to connect either to the Bischoff Trail to the east or the Main Trail to the south.
The 0.6 white/red blazed Bischoff trail is accessible from the White trail from the west or off the Main Trail near 9W. From the Main Trail, the Bischoff Trail heads north and passes over a stream draining a small pond.
From here, the trail turns west and passes to the south of the pond and traverses near Montammy Country Club to the North and the historic (private) Lambier house to the south.
The Bischoff trail then terminates when it meets the white trail.
The .3 of a mile Red Trail, accessible from the Main Trail, heads south before turning east and north paralleling the east brook as it empties Pfisters Pond on its way to the Tenakill Brook.
Many wildflowers such as Spring Beauty, Dwarf Ginseng, Trout Lily, Canada Mayflower and others appear on this trail in the spring. The purple trail trailhead is accessible to the east of the red trail. The red trail continues north and terminates into the Main Trail.
The .5 of a mile Purple Trail heads southeast from the Red Trail and crosses over the east brook and the Blue Spur (short .2 of a mile trail which leads to Highland Avenue).
Once past the blue spur trail, the purple trail continues southwest crossing over Lambier Brook before terminating into the Allison Trail.
The yellow blazed 1.4 mile Allison Trail is accessible from the north via the Main Trail, the east and south via the Little-Chism Trail and the west from the purple trail. Heading southwest from the Main Trail the Allison Trail passes wetlands and interesting rock formations.
These formations are made up of rock known as diabase which was formed when molten lava cooled underground. The trail then traverses southeast where it briefly follows the Little-Chism Trail.
From here the trail crosses the Green Brook before heading southwest once more paralleling the Green Brook to the west and its wetlands before terminating into the Little-Chism trail near East Clinton Avenue.
An interesting trail that is accessible from the Allison Trail is the 0.6 of a mile orange blazed Haring Rock Trail.
This trail traverses the western portion of the preserve. Heading south from the Allison Trail, the Haring Rock Trail travels in a meandering fashion passing wetlands to the east. The trail terminates at the Haring Rock.
The Haring Rock is a glacial erratic named after a Dr. John J. Haring who made sick calls in the area around the turn of the century on horseback. Doctor Haring often stopped at this rock to rest. An interesting fact about this glacial erratic is that it was originally located east of its current position on top of traprock where the Jewish Community Center is located. When the Jewish Community Center was developed the rock was moved to its current location. It was discovered that the rock would not stay put in its original position and was instead cemented in place upside down. The Haring Rock Trail ends at this rock and the Seely Trail begins here.
The 0.3 yellow/orange blazed Seely Trail is accessible from the Haring Rock Trail & connects to the Little-Chism trail once it crosses Green Brook.
The short trail traverses near East Clinton Avenue in the southern boundary of the preserve.
At 2.1 miles, the red blazed Little-Chism Trail is the longest trail featured in the TNC & LBP. The Little-Chism Trail is accessible from the Seely Trail in the south of the preserve near East Clinton Avenue, the Allison Trail in the southern boundary near Route 9W or from the north off of the Main Trail. Exploring the trail starting from the Seely Trail terminus, the trail heads east near wetlands and turns north briefly leaves the preserve and traverses next to Route 9W before heading back to the forest.
Continuing north, the trail crosses over Lost Brook where a dam is visible.
The trail joins with the Allison Trail briefly after it crosses Green Brook near more wetlands.
Both the Green Brook, Lost Brook are tributaries of the nearby Hudson River. The trail then passes the trail terminus for the short Sweet Gum Trail (which leads to the nearby members only Greenbrook Sanctuary to the east).
The trail continues heading north crossing over two additional tributary streams before terminating at the Main Trail near Route 9W.
Tenafly Nature Center is located at 313 Hudson Avenue Tenafly, New Jersey. There is a small parking lot. Click here for directions.
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!
Signs of spring have been slowly showing since the end of February when Skunk Cabbage flowers started to make an appearance.
And since the winter of 2010-2011 was an especially snowy and cold one, I thought it was important to show by way of photography how nature is renewing itself. Enjoy the spring photography tour!
Feel free to e-mail NJUrbanForest at NJUrbanForest@gmail.com with any comments, memories or suggestion! Thank you and have fun exploring!
I recently visited Wawayanda State Park with a mission to find spring wildflowers. We took part of the 1.8 mile William Hoeferlin trail (blue blaze) to the .7 of a mile Black Eagle Trail (green/white blaze). The Black Eagle Trail leads back to the park access road. You can check out these and other trails found at Wawayanda State Park here.
Pink Lady Slipper was first on the list. Pink Lady Slippers can live up to twenty years in the wild but take a long time to get established. There is no point in picking one in the wild to take home as it will quickly die outside of its natural habitat.
As I wandered along looking for more flowers I instead discovered two trees hugging.
Soon after, I found some downy yellow violets.
I finished off the hike by spotting some Trout Lily. Trout Lily is one of the earlier bloomers and one of the first to go usually by June.