Passaic County, NJ


Located near Oakland, New Jersey.
0.0 start on Saw Mill River Parkway
2.2 Dobbs Ferry
4.6 Exit 20 for US 287
7.6 TZ bridge
12.3 Exit 11 Nyack
13.5 Exit 12 West Nyack Route 303
15.3 Exit 13N Palisades Interstate
15.8 Palisades Interstate
17.3 Exit 14 Route 59 Spring Valley/Nanuet
17.9 Exit 14A Garden State Parkway
19.2 toll
19.7 rock outcrop
22.3 Exit 14B Airmont Road/Suffern
24.7 Exit 15
25.8 New Jersey
26.0 US 287 south
33.3 Exit 59 Franklin Lakes
35.1 Exit 58 Oakland
35.6 Exit 57 for Skyline Drive north

The parking lot is a short ways north of the exit; on the left.  


The elevations here range from 200 to 1,100 feet.


The name Ramapo means "round ponds."

Ramapo Lake was once known as Rotten Pond (or Lake LeGrande). The name Rotten Pond probably comes from the muskrats here that the Dutch settlers captured and referred to as Rote, hence Rote Pond, Rat Pond.

The Cannonball Road started at Pompton Lakes where there was an iron furnace. (Now the trail starts at the parking area at Barbara Drive.) The trail heads northeast on the western side of Ramapo Lake, parallels Skyline Drive, goes past the radio tower then heads to the west side of Cannonball Lake to the south end of Bear Swamp Lake

The tract had been the estate of Oakland Mayor Clifford F. MacEvoy. He was a wealthy contractor of large public works, including the Wanaque Reservoir.

Early part of the 20th century Clifford MacEvoy purchased what became the 2600-acre Ramapo State Park.

1924 a granite, brick and stucco three-story manor house, called Ryecliff, built on ten acres on the summit of what became Ramapo State Park. It was designed by Mr. MacEvoy for his wife and his daughter.

RYECLIFF has a five-story Observation Tower, originally a water tower erected on the site of what is now the Wanaque Reservoir. It was built in the early 1900's by Clifford MacEvoy.

Ryecliffe was home to the MacEvoy family for five generations.

1976 the area became state lands using Green Acres and federal funds. The majority of Park acreage was conveyed by the trustee of the MacEvoy estate to the State of New Jersey to be included as part of the existing Ramapo State Forest.

2003  --  Ryecliff put up for sale for $4,800,000 dollars.

Source:  http://www.masonsamett.com/cgi-shop/view_item.pl?HTML_FILE=detailO1M.html&KEY=030724222848


From the lower parking lot on Skyline Drive (just north of US 287) you can take the blue-blazed MacEvoy Trail to the northeast side of Ramapo Lake. You can make a complete circuit of the lake by following the lake counter clockwise by continuing northwest on the MacEvoy Trail; heading southwest on the western side of the lake via the red-blazed Cannonball Trail; hook up with the yellow-blazed Hoeferlin Trail heading east and then northeast back to the northeast corner of Ramapo Lake.

9/29/02  This is a popular place.  We went on a Sunday morning and there were people all over the place hiking, walking dogs, fishing, and jogging.  The parking lot was overflowed with cars -- so many that a school bus could not get out of the parking lot because of all the extra cars parked in the middle of the parking area. 

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Albizia julibrissin (silk tree)
Amelanchier sp. (shadbush)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules' club)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea abies (Norway spruce) planted
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Pyrus malus (apple tree)
Quercus alba (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)

Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Aronia sp. (chokeberry)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)
Decodon verticillatus (swamp loosestrife)
Eubotrys racemosa (fetterbush)
Gaultheria procumbens (teaberry)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) 6/14/95
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry)
Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)
Rhamnus sp. (buckthorn)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron) planted
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) 6/14/95 soon
Rosa carolina (pasture rose)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/14/95
Rubus flagellaris (northern dewberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus pensilvanicus (Pennsylvania blackberry)?
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum) 6/14/95
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Apios americana (groundnut)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder)
Mikania scandens (climbing hempweed)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false buckwheat)
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury)
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 6/14/95
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 9/29/02
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 9/29/02
Aster linariifolius (stiff aster) 9/29/02
Aster schreberi (Schreber's aster) 9/29/02
Aster shortii (Short's aster) 9/29/02
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)
Bidens sp. (frondosa)? (beggar ticks) 9/29/02 waning
Bidens vulgata (tall beggarticks) 9/29/02
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)
Chelone glabra (white turtlehead) 9/29/02
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 6/14/95
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm) 9/29/02
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Cypripedium acaule (pink lady's slipper)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 9/29/02
Desmodium rotundifolium (round-leaved tick trefoil)
Desmodium spp. (tick trefoils)
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pileweed)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 6/14/95
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 9/29/02
Eupatorium sessilifolia (upland boneset) 9/29/02 waning
Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Geranium robertianum (herb Robert)
Helianthus strumosus (pale-leaved sunflower) 9/29/02 just one in bloom
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed) 9/29/02
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed) 6/14/95
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Iris versicolor (blue flag) 6/14/95
Lactuca canadensis (wild lettuce)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bushclover)
Lespedeza cuneata (Chinese bushclover) 9/29/02
Lespedeza procumbens (trailing bushclover)
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs) 6/14/95
Ludwigia palustris (water purslane)
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed) 9/29/02
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife) 6/14/95
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Melampyrum lineare (cowwheat) 6/14/95
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) 9/29/02
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)
Myriophyllum sp. (water milfoil)
Nymphaea odorata (fragrant white water lily) 6/14/95
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 9/29/02
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed)
Pedicularis canadensis (wood betony)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum biflorum (true Solomon's seal)
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 9/29/02
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-head tearthumb)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)
Portulaca oleraceae (common purslane)
Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil) 6/14/95
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 6/14/95
Prenanthes sp. (rattlesnake root) 9/29/02
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Pycnanthemum sp. (mountain mint)
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup) 6/14/95
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Scrophularia lanceolata (hare figwort)
Sedum sp. (stonecrop) escape
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solidago bicolor (silverrod) 9/29/02
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod) 9/29/02
Solidago canadensis var. scabra (tall goldenrod) 9/29/02
Solidago flexicaulis (zig-zag goldenrod) 9/29/02
Solidago juncea (early goldenrod) 9/29/02
Solidago rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod) 9/29/02
Sonchus sp. (sow thistle) 9/29/02
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Tephrosia virginiana (goat's rue)
Triadenum virginicum (marsh St. Johnswort)
Trichostema dichotomum (blue curls)
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 6/14/95
Trifolium repens (white clover) 6/14/95
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus's looking glass)
Tussilago farfara (colt's foot)
Utricularia sp. (bladderwort)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell)
Viola sagittata (arrow-leaved violet)

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (umbrella flatsedge)

Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Digitaria sanguinalis (hairy crabgrass)
Eleusine indica (zipper grass)
Elymus hystrix (bottle-brush grass)
Leersia oryzoides (rice cut grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Panicum sp. (panic grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Paterson Ramblers at Oakland
June 9, 1907

The Paterson Rambling Club, accompanied by a number of invited guests, went by Susquehanna Railroad, Sunday, June 9th, 1907 to Oakland. Arriving at the station they were met by Amos W. Hopper, the mayor, with a number of the residents of the Borough of Oakland, who accompanied the Club on its ramble. . . .

West Oakland lies on the west side of the Ramapo River at the foot of the mountain of the same name, where there was a number of houses, one of them, "Shadowmont," being the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Carman, of this city.

The winding roadway from the station to the river, a distance of nearly a mile, affords magnificent views of the surrounding country, and when the bridge which spans the clear waters of the river was reached, their intersecting valleys, were reflected in the leisurely flow of the tranquil waters, exemplifying in many ways the meaning of old Bergen County's name, "The place of many hills."

Leaving the bridge, the roadway winds through a dense woodland, which has the fascinating adjunct of a lively brook, the waters of which run from one stone to another, murmuring a never ceasing song . . .

A short distance further on "Shadowmont" and the Morrison cottage were reached, where the Ramblers were greeted by Mrs. H. M. Carman and Miss Margaret E. Morrison. The views from these cottages baffle a description, both in extent and diversity, and the only way to get a full conception of their beauty is to take a ramble some pleasant day through the Ramapo valley at West Oakland. In the artistically arranged Morrison cottage the 38 Ramblers sat down to eat their lunch and drink their tea. What a lot of cheer there is in a cup of good tea to a weary Rambler, especially when it is served in such generous quantities by such gracious ladies as Mrs. Carman and Miss Morrison.

Extending a vote of thanks to the ladies for their generous hospitality, the ramble was continued to the residence of Frank Henn, who has charge of the Pliny Fink estate, and after pleasant greetings at this place were exchanged the walk was resumed up a most picturesque winding mountain roadway. About half way up the mountain there is an opening in the forest growth which affords a magnificent view of Pompton, with its church spires and pleasant places of residence, as well as a great variety of the surrounding scenery, with many mountain peaks in the distance.

Near this point the old Cannon Ball Road is intercepted until the top of the mountain is reached, when Le Grand Lake appears in view. Looking down on this sheet of water, which lies in a rocky, tree-fringed basin on top of the mountain, many exclamations were heard of "Isn't it grand?" when one of the Ramblers, less esthetic perhaps than the others, exclaimed, "Rotten." No insinuation was meant, however, as the sheet of water on that part of the mountain was long known as "Rotten Pond."

There has long been a supposition that the name of "Rotten" was given to the pond many years ago by an English geologist, who is said to have found the soil on certain approaches to it of such a porous or rotten nature that it was unsafe to venture on it. That characteristic, however, if it has an existence, ceased to prevail when the late Jacob S. Rogers raised the dam several feet higher, when the porous ground became part of the bed of the lake.

Another and probably more authentic version of how the name of "Rotten" came to be bestowed upon the pond is that in the early days when the Hollanders settled in that part of Bergen County they trapped many animals, among which were many muskrats, which had their haunts at the pond. In the Holland language the word "rat" in the singular, is spelled the same as in English, but in the plural it is spelled "ratten." They went ratten to the pond, hence the corruption of the word into rotten. . . .

From the lake the Ramblers strolled some distance further on the historical Cannon Ball Road on which cannon balls were carted by mule and ox teams from the foundries at Pompton and Ringwood to the Hudson River, and though these days have long since passed into the yesterdays of time, yet an inspiration of those trying days which made this nation a free and independent people, lingers in the old ruts of this crude mountain roadway -- lingers and lives to that extent that it inspired one of the Ramblers to pitch the key, in which all present joined in singing: . . .

From the old roadway the party was led for a mile and a half through a rocky wilderness of forest to a cluster of overhanging rocks where 37 years ago the 3 Wyble children wandered from their home on a Thanksgiving day, and becoming lost, they perished in the mountain. Many of our older people will remember the wide-spread interest which attached to this sad event, the bodies of the children not being found until the latter part of the following January, and some will probably recall the heroism displayed in that tragedy, the oldest boy being found in his shirt sleeves, having taken the coat from his own shivering body to wrap it around that of his youngest and more tender brother. . . .

And standing beside the rock where these children perished through the double tragedy of hunger and exposure, the Ramblers, with uncovered heads, sang most impressively, the hymn, "Near, My God, to Thee," and in all probability it was the first time that that, or the intonation of any other hymn, had been rendered at that memorable rock.

A quarter of a mile or so away a flat rock was pointed out, where the bodies of the children were placed to await their removal from the mountain. The afternoon was waning and the shadows of the great mountain had fallen on West Oakland when the Ramblers passed through many charming woodland and mountain scenes to the station.

Rydings, Joseph. 1934. Country Walks in Many Fields. Being Certain Choice Annals of the Paterson Rambling Club. Paterson, NJ: The Call Printing and Publishing Company.