I settled on an unusual choice: a relatively simple 2-mile loop through the Rockleigh Woods in Rockleigh, NJ. After getting out of work at 5:00PM, I got home, changed, and grabbed my things before running back out to my car. There was no traffic on the PIP on this overcast, lazy weekend afternoon. The air was getting cool as the sun began its slow crawl toward the horizon.
The trailhead parking was located in the Rockleigh Municipal Building parking lot and the trail entrance was an opening in the trees behind an empty playground. The location not withstanding, as I entered the gently darkened forest, the glow of fireflies welcomed me and the surrounding woods were filled with the chirping and singing of many birds.
Things were simple enough along the trail; there were very slight elevation gains and nothing strenuous. I expected the residential structures that intermittently appeared through the trees at the edge of the trail would keep any wildlife far away. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to get the sense of seclusion at times and to run into a number of deer grazing along the trail.
There was nothing incredibly special about the hike. No great views, no big climbs, and my immersion was broken quite a bit by houses and backyards at points along the way. However, things were quiet and I did some running along the way to get my heart pumping. I got back to my car (after having a face to face meeting with a deer, not too far from the entrance) feeling satisfied enough to count this as my hike for the week. I can admit, some of the appeal of this area manifested itself in a sense of "enchanted forest" as it did seem unusually serene.
Only two days after hiking through the Rockleigh Woods, the weather was absolutely ideal on the following Tuesday - 80 degrees and clear, sunny skies. I was the first car in the parking lot at the Ramapo Mountain State Forest upper parking area on Skyline Drive in Ringwood, NJ. The last time I parked here was back in March when the ground was covered in about a foot of snow and I hiked up to Le Grande Hill.
It was decidedly different today as the sun shone through the leaves, casting a glow on the forest floor. The rockiness of the area was far more apparent when it's not packed underneath a sheet of ice and snow. I took the orange-blazed Schuber Trail all the way to Twin Hill.
The portion of the hike that traveled through the empty Camp Glen Gray nearly made me wish I was being stalked by Jason Vorhees. I glanced through each empty cabin's window at the stillness on the other side and imagined the whole area bustling with activity.
It was clearly apparent that I had reached Twin Hill as the treeline opened up and I was met with a small rock scramble. As my eyes rose above the line of the rock, I was welcomed by a signpost jammed in between some stones indicating the junction of the Schuber Trail with the yellow-blazed Yellow trail.
There I found a sweeping view over the Campgaw Mountains and Ramapo Valley Country Reservation, with the New York City skyline in clear view in the distance. I lingered here for nearly 30 minutes, stretching and breathing deeply, before continuing onto the Yellow Trail. I would eventually jump on and off of the red-blazed Cannonball Run trail and hike through another quiet camp ground, Camp Yaw Paw, before arriving at the Erskine Lookout.
Admittedly, the views from this vista were obstructed due to overgrown trees and brush. I imagine the view here would be excellent during the early winter, when then leaves all drop off their branches. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with what I saw on Twin Hill and carried on in the direction of my car. I saw a few deer on the way back, but they quickly darted into the trees when I came into view.
After the hike, I traveled over to my friends' (Guy and Tina - who joined me for a hike at Wyanokie High Point in April) house, right on the banks of Erskine Lake, to sit, relax, and enjoy the view from the dock. I've been coming here for years, to stare into the water, the sky, and the surrounding hills, and each time I appreciate the view more than the last.