Friday, February 27, 2009

Didja Know? Trails

I was very excited to find this article from Cornie Hubner's series "Didja Know?" titled "Trails." Although it brings up more questions [i.e., does anyone know more about the camping site mentioned?], it helps makes sense of other details.

A miniature Appalachian Trail is available at our door steps. Providing all of the features of the National Trail, eleven marked paths reveal untouched Nature in nearly 15 miles of sensory adventure. High vantage points with boundless panoramas of lakes and forests, flowered covered valleys and marshes alive with birds and animals offer unmatched pleasure. Beginning in the early '50s, with the enthusiastic support of J. Alden Talbot, a dedicated Trails and Conservation Committee, explored and identified the first trails. These were provided with official looking markers, which when vandalised, were replaced with the colored tree blazes still discernible.

These trails were inadvertently included in the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Map. As such, they were considered part of the 165,000 miles of the 100,000 public trails of the U.S.A.. Except for the Boy Scouts in Camps at the Southern and Western boundaries, few others ventured to gain access to the trails starting within the Club because of the Gate House. The trails were removed from the public maps and intrusion by the Scouts stopped when they were formally notified of their trespassing.

The Appalachian Trail enters New Jersey at Route 80 near the Pennsylvania line. It dips into New York for a few miles near Greenwood Lake and along the Kittatinny Range for 65 miles. A well known trail begins in Hewitt, following a wild, craggy path, a distance of 18 miles terminating in Butler. Marked with blue blazes, it is the southern end of the New England Upland, composed of 600,000 year granite and ore deposits. The ore attracted our earliest adventurous settlers who were forced by law to send the ingots to England for manufacture into consumer goods (forbidden in the colonies) and returned to sell for huge profit.

Evidence of pre-revolution mining activity still exists near Stillwater or New Pond, not far from Mountain Trail (Blue) that is approached from Mountain Road near lot No. 669. This trail joins West Lake Trail (Yellow) and then the Indian Corner Trail (Yellow) to end at the top of Orchard Road, the longest contiguous maintained path.

Orchard Road was once part of the Estate Road system that provided entry from South Gate, located near what is now the recently opened formal entrance to the "Estates in Kinnelon" development. The road was used as a bridal path to the Barns and followed along East Shore Drive. A few area riders were delighted to be invited to join the Kinneys and their friends for exhilarating jaunts to the picturesque picnic grounds. Locals recount seeing the lucky riders, garbed in formal riding habits, as if for a Madison Square Show, maintaining the quality of local aristocracy. The bridle paths were the basis of our present roads and the trails flowing from them.

A nature loving, dedicated Committee opened and maintained the trails with occasional help from the Company at cost. The limited budget provided the use of a bulldozer, one day at a cost of $72.oo per diem (from the minutes). The painters, loppers[?] and sloppers (work classifications) spend many hours, with $25.00 of hired help laying a corduroy road on the Hemlock Trail (Orange) through the finest stand of evergreens, previously almost inaccessible. This trail, like the others, was regularly patrolled often needing a power saw for removing fallen trees.

A power saw, carried on a rod between the shoulders of two stalwarts was frequently operated by Dr. Lyndon Peer, a world renowned Plastic Surgeon whose books on Cleft Palate and Ear Restoration are standards. His "Loppers" watched and shuddered as he manipulated the dangerous incongruous "surgeon's" instrument with little regard for his priceless hands. A mark of appreciation for the efforts of the group was in a coat of arms - motto, "from Precipice to Precipice" that was presented by the Club in '59.

Trail rides by the Riding Club were increasingly popular. Many novice riders became expert as the stable provided mounts and lessons. Mountain trails together with open roads leading from one to another provided almost 30 miles of paths. These also attracted a less welcome customer, the trail bike rider. Their reckless, fantastic feats of speeding to most remote spots, spread terror to man and beast until peremptorily stopped.

A decrease in interest and the sale of the 1460 acre south section, cut off access to trails beyond the end of Lake Kinnelon. The camp site, cleared and prepared by two pioneering committee men is available by permit, under strict regulations for those seeking life "in the raw." More than 30 species of trees, marked by the N.J. Dept. of Conservation and over 200 birds (20 species of Warblers, 12 Sparrows, 7 Ducks) have been identified and recorded between '54 and '62. As if to authenticate our indigenous nature, 3 bald eagles visited in '52 for three weeks to feast on the carcass of deer that had frozen in the Lake. Wild Turkeys are now returning in increasing numbers and there have been recent sightings of Black Bears (125 reported in the state).

Nature lovers need not travel far. With increased interest Trail Maps (1967 ed.) lists of Birds and Trees could be made available and the serene, unrivaled beauty of our share of Nature reopened at our door step.

And, now for the questions:

If you have knowledge of the camp site that Cornie refers to, would you let me know?

Lisa and I are trying to reconstruct the 'yellow' or Indian Corner trail that goes from West Shore Drive to Orchard Road. Would you have information on that? Maybe it connects to the camp site?

Who knows about the "Hewitt to Butler" trail?

Note: I'm overdue on documenting the Hemlock Trail -- which is a gem of a hike!

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