Mahwah, Bergen County, NJ


There is an exit off of Rt. 17 just south of its intersection with US 287 for Stag Hill Road at the corner. Stag Hill Road heads southwest and then makes or bears right. Stag Hill Road parallels Stag Brook for awhile.  Could not find any parking area; there is a gas pipe line cut but the drop-off from the road to the dirt is too great for a passenger car.  

Houvenkopf Mt. was once an extremely popular hiking place.

This place may no longer be open to the public.  I have to check it out.  It was hike #22 in the Day Walker: 28 Hike in the New York Metropolitan Area by the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference (1983), but that was quite a while ago.  The guide said that  there was a climb of 450 feet starting along a gas pipeline clearing to the summit of "Hooge Kop." 

At the top was Split Rock, also called Camp Meeting Rock or Pigeon Rock.  The latter name came from the fact that mountain people used to spread out grain on the flat area and catch passenger pigeons.  Just below the rock the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would burn large fiery crosses on the mountainside visible from Suffern.  From the top one could see Suffern's business district and, on clear days, the skyscrapers of New York City.

Famed trail-blazer William Hoeferlin had his cabin, Bluebird Lodge, near the gas pipeline below Split Rock. 

Hoven Kopf

Rydings, Joseph. 1934. Country Walks in Many Fields: Being Certain Choice Annals of the Paterson Rambling Club. Paterson, NJ: Press of the Morning Call.

. . . Hoven Kopf is the banner ramble of this peripatetic institution (Paterson Ramblers). Other rambles have given pleasure, but some, at times, have led to a little disappointment; but Hoven Kopf is like the proverbial hen, "it never laid away." It never failed to yield to expectation the fullest measure of gratification "pressed down and running over."

. . . The Ramblers left Paterson abut 10 o'clock. Some went by train, but others preferred the slower, but more picturesque, method of going by the trolley of the new Ridgewood line. . . .

The walk up the mountains from Hillsdale was everything that the lover of nature could desire. Such melodious birds, such charming butterflies and such rare plants and flowers. There was the pale blue Veronica. The Catholic rambler may pick it and think in pious remembrance of the saint whose name it bears. The flower is small, an optical instrument is needed to count the stamens, but by sacred legend consecrated to the last sad but momentous ascent of the suffering Redeemer up Calvary. . . .

Everyone felt by anticipation the pleasure of the greeting that Mr. and Mrs. Wheaton would extend to all when their charming little cottage should be reached, and everyone plodded on, over bank, bush and scar, just as did young Lochinvar in Scott's thrilling lines. Mrs. Wheaton provided coffee for her guests, and in her interesting garden each Rambler selected his or her table. The soft grass by some was chosen and by others the rough, hard, stony ribs of the primeval granite were given the preference. The place was both rocky and arable, and where the soil afforded sustenance every sort of flower seemed to grow. It was a vegetable paradise. It seemed as if every land which had fought against another had sent to this spot its floral emblem. The royal lilies of France grew side by side with the roses of England. . . .

It took the company a long time to leave the spot, which seemed like a bit of Paradise accidentally fallen to earth and, as Juliet said, "Parting were such sweet sorrow," but there remained still a great part of the mountain to climb. So the leaders met together and led the way. The path led over a little rustic bridge made of unhewn logs nailed together. There was just a little chance that one might topple over, but the stream was not deep, and the bed of water fern, forget-me-nots, sweet flag and mint ready to receive one seemed to rob such an accident of its terrors.

The rest of the journey was passed in going through a perfect grove of laurel. The shrubs were in full flower, many parts of the mountains were fairly aglow with their most exquisite blossom. Arriving at the summit some of the Ramblers climbed the curious wooded construction which leads to the top of the huge boulder. Other Ramblers were content to remain at the base and view the landscape from that spot, as the clear day afforded an excellent opportunity.

The hills around Paterson were clearly discernible. Garret Rock was distinguished by the little bit of square structure about the size of a domino, but easily recognized through the glass at Lambert's tower. A big promontory came near shutting off the view of Garret Rock and this was the hill above Hawthorne, where the Goffle range comes to a termination. A little nearer was our old friend the High Mountain, but not appearing very high from this viewpoint. Strange to say not near so high as Beech Mountain close beside it. The wooded slopes of Beech Mountain were seen to perfection, and one sent a silent greeting to dear Mr. and Mrs. Fleming, whose hospitable home the Ramblers knew lay behind the Beech Mountain.

Leaving the summit after a stay of an hour or so the Ramblers began to descend. The road was rough and as first one and then another seemed about to fall, a burst of laughter would issue from the throng, for everyone had put care aside, no mere barking of the skin would suffice to make one unhappy. Only a broken limb or a fractured skull would be sufficient to spoil the pleasures of such a glorious day.


The Rambling Club spent Sunday in the wilds of the Ramapo Mountains. . .. From the summit of the Hoven Kopf one saw faint traces of civilization, but they were a long way in the distance. Garret Rock could be seen, but Paterson might have been swallowed by an earthquake, so far as any visible existence was concerned. And Garret Rock itself has the appearance of a molehill. It was recognizable by the tower, which seemed about the size of a child's little finger. And yet the tall buildings of New York were distinct enough. Thirty miles away the Metropolitan building could be seen, and a few other skyscrapers. And, oh, how beautiful was the intervening landscape! . ..

The High Mountain, so familiar to all, was visible and could be identified by its bare summit, but it seemed to have collected other mountain to keep it company. Beech Mountain stood beside it, and beyond that one knew that the famous Shelter Rock, Buttermilk Falls, Fleming's farm and other famous rambling resorts were to be found, though now invisible. The monstrous stones on top of the Hoven Kopf are not boulders, but huge pieces of granite torn from their bed by volcanic action, so heavy one would think as to defy even the omnipotent powers of the glacial age to strip them from their moorings.

But the flowers were gone. One little bell of the purple Gerardia was the sole survivor of the long floral grain that during the months of spring and summer had embellished the Hoven Kopf. . . .

It was the land of the Jackson Whites, and these interesting mountain dwellers were seen here and there taking their Sunday rambles through the woods. It was the intention to visit good Mr. and Mrs. D. Groot, but the quaint log cabin was silent, and though interesting in itself the visitors would have been delighted to meet the kind and hospitable occupants who lived within the lone mountain cabin, if the old Indian track winding in and out among the woods could be called a lane.

. . . Passing in this manner through the primitive forest, the Ramblers came out at last to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Wheaton. The good couple were as kind and attentive as ever, and glad to see their old rambling friends from Paterson. A new dweller in the Wheaton home was introduced; a little soul left homeless and forsaken among the Jackson Whites had found a refuge there.

. . . Here the Ramblers sat down and ate luncheon. Water from a neighboring spring served as a beverage until the kind host and hostess could prepare coffee. The ancient old schoolhouse was visited, where the Wheatons taught school when the mountain dwellers were practically as heathenish as the inhabitants of Central Africa. Eighteen years ago the Wheatons came here, when the Jackson Whites were at the lowest, and when murder and licentiousness ran riot all over the mountains. Today the place is as safe as any town in America.

. . . the Ramblers found themselves in the crowded trolley car on the way home. . . .It was then that pleasant memories of the Hoven Kopf resumed their sway. One smiled at the recollection of the Italian woman who was carrying a considerable part of the forest on her head down the mountain side. What a head and neck it must have been for one so far advanced in life! . .. It was one of the most popular rambles the club has ever had. Fifty persons attended by actual count, not reckoning Cupid, for, to tell the truth, the little god that figures so largely on Valentine cards, had been present, though unseen. . . .

Joseph Rydings.