Friday, October 29, 2010

Pyramid Mountain and Tripod Rock

The Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area is a good day trip hike (it's more than a "walk"). I think it's best known for Tripod Rock. The rock is a huge, 160-ton boulder naturally balanced on three smaller boulders. Here's a nice spot for a geology lesson if you are with children. The four rocks were deposited there by the Wisconsin Glacier over 18,000 years ago. The park also has the less well known Bear Rock which is one of the largest glacial erratics in New Jersey.

Go ahead and climb on top and join the thousands of people who have taken photographs there. Take a snack break, and think about how the glaciers pushed through New Jersey during the last ice age. It's pretty awesome (in the true sense of awe) to think of the huge chunks of sedimentary rocks there that were split and carried by the glacial movements.

I have heard and read (but with no confirmation) that Tripod Rock was a place used by the Lenape, NJ’s Native Americans, for summer solstice celebrations.

Pyramid Mountain is located in Kinnelon, Morris County and is about 1500 acres of trails, forests and wetlands. It has several unobstructed views of the New York City skyline.

Though people have been visiting the area for thousands of years, it was only established in 1987 as the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area to protect it from development.

Along the way (depending on the trail you choose), there are old stone ruins, a seasonal waterfall, 100 species of birds and 30 species of mammals including black bears, beavers and the very elusive and endangered bobcat.

Comments on several websites by birders list eagles, herons, egrets, vultures, red hawks, scarlet tanagers, yellow warblers, indigo buntings, red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees.

There is a nice diversity of habitat including blueberry patches, rhododendrons, chestnut oaks, American beech trees, and holly shrubs.

The area is important for supplying water to downstream reservoirs and replenishing area aquifers.

You can do hikes that loop around for about 3-5 miles that are moderately difficult - mostly because of a few steep and rocky sections like Lucy’s Overlook and the actual Pyramid Mountain. Otherwise, I would consider it good for beginning hikers. For a longer hike, you might connect with the trails on  Turkey Mountain.

There is a visitor center, a small parking lot and a trail kiosk that should have trail maps. 

If you live in the area, you might consider some of the volunteer opportunities at the park.

There is a map online to get you started.

For more details on a 4 mile-3 hour loop hike that passes the Taylortown Reservoir (popular fishing spot too), Tripod Rock and Bear Rock and has two panoramic viewpoints, look at the page on the site.

Calendar of Events at Pyramid Mountain

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