Overpeck County Park
Teaneck, Leonia, Palisades Park, and Ridgefield Park
811-acres


Directions to the Henry Hoebel Area:

From RT..4 West:  Teaneck Road Exit (Teaneck / Ridgefield Park), Make right at end of ramp. Follow Teaneck Road for 1.3 miles to the Intersection of Teaneck and DeGraw Ave, Left at the light. Drive 1.0 miles (passing Glenpoint Complex on left and going over the turnpike), turn left into the park entrance.

From I-95 South:  Exit 68 (same as the NJ Turnpike); at light, make left following signs for U-turn; at light on Fort Lee Road make a left. Go over the turnpike, continue to park entrance on left.

From RT.. 80 EAST:  East on Rt.. 80 to Rt.. 95 North; Exit 70 Leonia; follow Ramp onto Fort Lee Road; follow to Park on left.

Directions to Veterans Park:

Instead of turning left onto DeGraw Avenue as above, keep heading south on Teaneck Road and turn left onto Morningside Lane.  Head down to the park.

Directions to Ridgefield Park section of the Park:

Instead of turning left onto DeGraw Avenue, keeping heading south to a left turn onto Emerson Street (about 2.7 miles from Route 4).  Follow Emerson Street and the signs for Challenger Boulevard.  At the T-intersection, turn left; pass by the parking area for Loew's Theatre; at the end of the road enter the park.

Directions to the Palisades Park section of the Park:

Keep heading east on DeGraw Avenue Teaneck Road and turn right onto Grand Avenue.  Drive about 1.1 miles and turn right onto Roosevelt Place (at the sign for the park) and head to the end of the road and into the park. 


The park is divided into five areas including Overpeck Bergen County Golf Course:

North: Henry Hoebel Area  --  Fort Lee Road, Leonia

South:   --  Fort Lee Road, Leonia

Palisade Park --  Roosevelt Street

Ridgefield Park Area  --  Challenger Road (off Emerson Road), Ridgefield Park


History:

1,000 Ashkineshacky Indians lived in the Leonia vicinity.

In the summer they paddled down the Hackensack River to Staten Island where they collected shells for wampum.

In the fall they held their steam bath festival along Overpeck Creek.

In the winter they lived in a fort in Palisades Park.

(P. 11. Carol Karels. 2002. Images of America: Leonia. Charleston, SC: Arcadia.)

In the late 1940s, as a child author John Quinn took walks in the Overpeck Creek marshes at the northern edge of the Meadowlands. He noted that the Overpeck Meadows of his youth were filled in with solid waste in the mid-1960s.  They are now the site of Overpeck County Park, an office complex and Interstate 95. (http://www.meadowlands.state.nj.us/news/2002/JQhonored.html)

1954  --  the park was first proposed by A. Thornton Bishop, then president of the Bergen County Park Commission. The park had originally been planned to rival New York City's Central Park, but the dream was not fulfilled.

2002  --  The Teaneck Creek Conservancy Inc., in cooperation with the Bergen County Parks Department, started establishing a 46-acre environmental/cultural park in Area 1 of Overpeck Park.


Facilities and Trails:

North: Henry Hoebel Area  (off Degraw Avenue/Ft. Lee Road)--  fitness field; jogging path; four tennis courts; quarter mile bicycle-pedestrian path beside the lake, bathroom facilities.  The Equestrian Center is directly across from the Hoebel entrance.

12/13/04.  Brother-in-law Cefe Santana and I parked by the huge lawn at the park entrance.  To the right is a children's playground and the 9/11 World Trade Center Disaster Memorial. Farther to the left are the recreational and athletic fields/courts.  There is also a lake in the park.   There is no natural area here.  Along the borders of the park area are lots of Phragmites australis (giant reed grass).  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.

South:  --  4 picnic areas; playground, baseball field; bike path; running track; volley ball court, basketball courts, horse-back riding center; and a wildlife refuge.

Ridgefield Park Junior/Senior High School (end of Grand Avenue and Preston Street off Teaneck Road).  There is a bike path here. 

Veterans Park  (end of Morningside Lane off Teaneck Road)--  more ball and soccer fields.

Ridgefield Park Area  --  two softball fields and two soccer fields. 

12/13/2004. We drove to the opposite end of the park and parked by an orange gate. (Across Overpeck Creek on the east is the Palisade Park section of Overpeck Creek.)  There is a long path here heading through the Phragmites marsh.  In the marsh there are are scattered trees and shrubs. Along the path there are some dump areas which detracts a bit from the walk.  Near the far end of the walk there are two side walks on the right to Overpeck Creek.  The park ends at a road extending from New Jersey Turnpike Exit 70A Leonia east of the Marriott Hotel.  Across the street is another Phragmites marsh.  But there is a sign by the entrance saying "No Trespassing" and "Bergen County Model Airdrome, Permit Required." So we turned around and returned the way we came.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney. 

Palisade Park (at end of Roosevelt Place off Grand Avenue)  -- four tennis courts, picnicking, horseshoes, and ball fields (permits required).

12/13/04.  They are doing a lot of construction here.  There is a huge parking lot here next to a small football field with viewing stands on both sides.  To the north of the park is another Phragmites australis marsh.  Across Overpeck Creek on the west is the Ridgefield Park Section of Overpeck Park.  There may be a trail along the eastern side of the park heading north.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


Habitats:

There are some undeveloped areas in Overpeck West, but most of these are weed-covered landfill.


PLANT LIST
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = in bloom on date of field trip, 12/13/2004


Trees:
Acer negundo (ash-leaf maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Catalpa sp. (catalpa)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree)
Picea pungens var. glauca (blue spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood) lots
Prunus sp. (weeping cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix sp. (willow)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) planted at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial
Cornus amomum (silky or swamp dogwood)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rubus occidentalis Black Raspberry
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix sp. (willow)
Taxus sp. (yew) planted at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster spp. (aster)
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose mallow)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Oenothera biennis (common evening-primrose)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Solidago spp. (goldenrod)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) *
Trifolium spp. (clover)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Xanthium strumarium (clotbur)

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis var. tenuis (path rush)

Grasses:
Eleusine indica (goose grass)
Elytrigia repens (quack grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass) the dominant plant in many of the areas
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)