STERLING FOREST
Orange County, NY

This is 17,500 acres of once-privately owned wilderness, in the Tuxedo Mountains between Harriman State Park and New Jersey, famous for its historic iron mines, rocky ridges, clear waters, and unspoiled second-growth forest.


Directions:

US 87; Exit 15a Rt. 17 n; left Rt. 17A; you have to make a left a a stop sign.  Set your odometer to 0.  Then in 5.7 miles you should see a small pull-off area on the left side (south side) of  17A not far from the town of Greenwood Lake.  There is a small green highway marker that says: 17A; 8301; 11 91.  Right across the street (north side) is the Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary.  


History:

In the park there are the remains of some twenty plus old mines.  There are also several furnaces here.  The Sterling Mine (under Sterling Lake) started in 1750. It lasted until 1902. It was owned by the Townsends who also owned the Southfield ironworks at Southfield Mountain near Monroe, Orange County, New York. Its water-filled mine shaft opening can be seen north of the lake.   The outlet shaft lies at the southwest corner of Sterling Lake. The shaft stretched under Sterling Lake for 1,000 feet. No trace of the mine itself exists today. From 1880 to 18867 the ore mined was used at the Southfield furnace. (Ransom 1966:287)

The remains of a huge cast-iron roaster can be seen near the Red Back Mine.  

J. Ashton Allis was the president of the Fresh Air Club for many years and a veteran hiker and trail builder.

Sterling Forest (Trail Walker May/June 1998) became a State Park when it was announced by Governors Whitman and Pataki at Bear Mountain Inn.  It is the largest addition to the New York park system in fifty years.  The size is 14,451.6 acres costing $54 million dollars.  


Trails:

Currently(?), only two trails are open to hikers during the daytime and only during March, April, June, July, and August (not May):

The 8.4 mile Sterling Ridge Trail (blazed in blue), traveling over the Tuxedo Mountains, can be followed all the way from Hewitt, New Jersey, off the Butler-Hewitt Trail, to Tuxedo, New York. On the Greenwood Lake end are the ruins of another "Baron" Hasenclever iron mine. Atop the ridge stands the newly refurbished fire tower, with a spectacular 360-degree view. It goes near the Long Pond Ironworks Historical District.  

Route 210 (near the summit of Tuxedo Mountain)

Laurel Swamp Trail

Sterling Fire Tower

Cedar Pond wood road

Big Beech Mountain

Hewitt Trail

Jennings Hollow Trail

Long Pond Ironworks Historical District

Hewitt

Parking is on a pull-off on the south side of  NY 17A between Greenwood Lake and Tuxedo.

2 mile Allis Trail blazed in blue.  Allis Trails connects Sterling Ridge Trail to the Appalachian Trail at Fitzgerald Falls.  The "Trail Walker" (Jan/Feb 2000, p. 4) reported that the trail is now within the newly-acquired park land, paralleling the Route 17A roadway. Parking is on a sharp left bend of Route 210, about two miles west of Sterling Forest Gardens. There is a new parking area opened along Rt. 17A at the northern termini of the Sterling Ridge Trail. 

Cedar Mountain

Appalachian Trail (west of Mombasha high Point)

It used to be that a free day-use permit was required from the owners, Sterling Forest Corporation, located on Orange County 84/Sterling Lake Road.

The Sterling Forest has been acquired. The total acreage was 15,280 and the cost was $55 million dollars. (Trail Walker, Jan/Feb 1998 p. 3)


Trip Report:  May 19, 1998.  Dr. Patrick Louis Cooney.

The weather was warm for May 19.  It was not too hard to find the parking area on the left side of the road.  A sign there said "Hikers Wear Bright Clothes.  Turkey Hunting Until Noon in May."  I debated whether to go or not but finally decided to take the plunge.  

The trail goes south and in a short distance comes to a cleared area.  Shortly after this you have to watch out for a sharp right turn that goes directly up the slope. (If you reach the fork in the wagon road -- the left one of which takes you to Lake Sterling -- you have gone too far.)  

This is typical chestnut oak dry ridge walking.  There are lots of oaks and hickories with myriads of  ericacious species (lowbush blueberries, deerberry, black huckleberry) and black berry species.  If you keep walking you come to the part of the ridge where you can look east and see Lake Sterling.  

I kept on walking until I got to the power cut.  You could hike down the powercut until you got to Lake Sterling.  But, being a botanist and not a real hiker, I turned around at this point.  


PLANT LIST:

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney


Trees:
Acer pensylvanicum (goosefoot maple) (a couple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Prunus serotina (black cherry) 5/19/98
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
 

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)
Corylus americana (hazelnut)
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry) 5/19/98
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Rhamnus cathartica (buckthorn) 5/19/98
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter flower) 5/19/98
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa caroliniana (pasture rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus pensilvanicus (Pennsylvania blackberry) 5/19/98
Rubus spp. (blackberries) 5/19/98
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadow sweet)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside huckleberry) 5/19/98
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry) 5/19/98
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum) 5/19/98 one in bloom at a least

Vines:
Amphicarpaea (bracteata hog peanut)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)


Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/19/98
Aquilegia canadensis (columbine) 5/19/98
Arabis laevigata (smooth rockcress)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla) 5/19/98
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster schreberi? (Schreber's aster?)
Baptisia sp.
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed) 5/19/98
Comandra umbellata (bastard toadflax) 5/19/98
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry) 5/19/98
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) 5/19/98
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow stargrass) 5/19/98
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower) 5/19/98
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumber root) 5/19/98
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 5/19/98
Plantago plantaginifolia (plantain-leaved pussytoes) 5/19/98
Podophyllum peltatum (may apple) 5/19/98
Polygonatum biflorum (smooth true Solomon's seal) 5/19/98
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) 5/19/98
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil 5/19/98
Prenanthes spp. (lettuces)
Ranunculus abortivus 5/19/98
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Saxifraga pensylvanica (swamp saxifrage) 5/19/98
Senecio aureus (golden ragwort) 5/19/98
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon' seal) 5/19/98
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) 5/19/98
Tussilago farfara (colts foot)
Uvularia perfoliata (perfoliate-leaved bellwort) 5/19/98
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell) 5/19/98
Viola palmata var. palmata (wood violet) 5/19/98
Viola pubescens (downy yellow violet) 5/19/98
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 5/19/98

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
 

Grasses:
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass) 5/19/98
Dactylis glomeratus (orchard grass)
Poa annua (annual blue grass) 5/19/98
Poa pratensis (Kentucky blue grass) 5/19/98
 

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)


Somewhere in Sterling Forest, Dr. Richard S. Mitchell and his team (NYFA Newsletter, December, 1998) reported finding:

Callitriche terrestris (terrestrial starwort)

Carex abscondita (a rare sedge)