Bear Swamp Lake
Skylands Manor Section of Ringwood State Park, Bergen County, New Jersey


Directions:

US 87 to US 287 south; exit onto Route 17 south; exit soon for Route 202; at stop sign turn left onto Route 202 south;  drive about 2.0 miles and turn right into the parking area (about .5 of a mile south of Ramapo College).


History:

The Bear Swamp Club established a private summer-home community of summer cottages around Bear Swamp Lake. 

1970s the area became park property and many house foundations can be found around Bear Swamp Lake.


Wildlife:

There have been bear sightings.


Trails:

6/02/2005.  Parked at Ramapo Reservation early in the morning.  There were lots of dog walkers and a few lone walkers/hikers.  Followed the silver trail over the bridge over the Ramapo River.  Walked along the shore of the lake in the park.  The green trail goes right heading along the lake side.  Head into the woods climbing away from the lake.  The trail is a nice wide woods road.  I hear the sound of the waterfall in the gorge on the left. 

As the silver trail turns left, the blue trail starts straight ahead.  As I crossed a stone bridge over a stream, the orange trail comes in from the left, taking the place of the silver trail.  So I follow the orange trail.  I ascend to the McMillan Reservoir crossing two more stone bridges.  This is as far as I had ever been on this trail.  But today I am determined to make it all the way to Bear Swamp Lake.

I continue following the orange trail.  It passes by the yellow and silver trail on the left.  I meet a woman hiker who tells me that Bear Swamp is too far to walk and she suggests a loop trail alternative.  Keep following the orange trail, pick up the red trail on the left and keep turning left as you hook up with the yellow and silver trail that takes one back to the orange trail.  That sounds like a good idea.

But I decided to keep going anyway.  Passed the red trail and met another hiker who tells me that I am already about 2/3s of the way to Bear Swamp Lake.  He says there is one steep climb, but beyond that it is downhill and then you are there.  That cheered me up and so I continued on.  I pass the blue trail on the right. Beyond that I come to a stream with the orange trail turning left.  I decide to keep going straight, this time via the red and silver trail.   Head uphill and then the trail is relatively flat.  Start bearing left with the trail and head up a steep climb. 

Once I got to the top I expected to see the lake before me.  But I did not see anything.  Headed downhill coming to a small swamp on the right.  I push on past the swamp and to my surprise I come upon a huge power cut for a gas line.  The cut comes down from one high ridge, goes across the valley and then back up onto another high ridge.  I certainly did not expect to find a power cut.  Nor did I figure on finding an asphalt road leading up to the power cut and the fenced station associated with the gas line.  (That was a disappointment since I expected to find an isolated lake.)   I wondered where the lake was. I push on again and very shortly came to the end of the red and silver trail at a T-intersection with the blue trail.  And now I see the lake. 

The lake is in the valley.  It is a good sized lake but does not appear very deep.  Most of it seems covered with spatterdock and fragrant white water lily.  I turn left onto the blue trail and start investigating the lakeside.  There are lots of smooth alder.  

Another surprise.  There are lots of remains of houses along the lake.  The remains of stone walls here and a patio there and steps and porch elsewhere.  This explains why there are several horticultural plant species here.

Pass a couple of women joggers.  Another disappointment.  We can't be that far from civilization.  

I work my way down to the southern end of the lake with the dam.   I find a sign near the brook.  "Bear Swamp Brook Restoration."  This brook supports a population of wild brook trout.  The East Jersey chapter of Trout Unlimited (EJTU) and the town of Mohawk cleaned lots of debris from the brook and planted trees in the area.  Good for them!!

I head over to the western side of Bear Swamp Lake.  I see two lone chimneys and the house remains associated with them.  It's a pretty area. 

Decide to return to the parking lot.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

*  =  blooming on date of field trip, 6/02/2005.


Trees:
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules club)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (pignut hickory)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)  *
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)  *
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)  *
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Shrubs:
Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Chimaphila maculata (checkerberry)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)  *waning
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)  *
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)  large clump of it
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)  *
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Philadelphus sp. (mock orange)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter flower)  *
Rhododendron sp. (a double-flowering pink azalea)  *  probably planted by a former home owner
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Ribes sativum (garden red currant)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rosa palustris (swamp rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)  *
Rubus flagellaris (dewberry)  *
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)  *
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)   *
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Vines:
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Dioscorea villosa (wild yamroot)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

 Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Aegopodium podagraria (goutweed)   *
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)  *
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Apocynum sp. (dogbane)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster spp. (asters)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)  *
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed)   *
Chelidonium majus (celandine)  *
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Cypripedium acaule (pink lady's slipper) 
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane)  *
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Galanthus nevale (snow drops)  *
Galium aparine (cleavers)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)   *
Helianthus sp. (sunflower) 
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)   *
Hydrocotyle americana (water pennywort) 
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Iris sp. (iris)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Lespedeza spp. (bushclover)
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)   *
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumberroot) 
Melilotus sp. (sweet clover) 
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil)  *
Nuphar variegata (spatterdock)  *
Nymphaea odorata (fragrant white water lily)  *
Oxalis sp.  (yellow wood sorrel)  *
Peltandra virginica (arrow arum)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum sp. (true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed)  *
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrowhead tearthumb)
Polygonum sp. (smartweed) 6/13/95
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil)   *
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)  *
Prenanthes altissima (tall white lettuce)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf crowfoot) 
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel) 
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)  *
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod)
Sparganium sp. (burreed)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)   *
Trifolium pratense (red clover)   *
Trifolium repens (white clover)  *
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Viola sp. (violet)
Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) 

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Carex typhina like (sedge)  
Dulichium arundinaceum (three-way sedge) 
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)

Grasses:
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phleum pratense (Timothy)
Phragmites australis (giant reedgrass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polypodium sp. (rockcap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Other:
Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)