Passaic County, New Jersey
160 acres


From the Lincoln Tunnel, take Route 3 west to the junction with Route 46.  Continue on Route 46 westbound for approximately one mile to the Great Notch exit, on the right.  Turn right onto Rifle Camp Road and travel north for 1.3 miles to the park entrance gate on the right.  Proceed 0.8 miles to the very end of the park access road to the uppermost parking lot next to the nature center.  

Rifle Camp Park is located on the eastern crest of the First Watchung Mountain, about fifteen miles west of the Hudson River, and has outstanding vistas of the Newark Basin and New York City.  Much of the park landscape consists of upland mixed hardwood forest.   


on the first Watchung Mountain;  basalt  


Some of Washington's troops were stationed here and there was a small sniper skirmish here, hence the name of the park. There is an historical sign on Rifle Camp Road mentioning this.  

The Farm of Thomas Ryder on Garrett Mountain was home to a portion of the Continental Army during the American Revolution (the artillery of Major Parr and the dragoons of Colonel Moylan). Washington himself had, from July 1st to 29th and October 8th to Nov. 27, 1780, his headquarters at the Dey Mansion, Lower Preakness.

Ryder himself turned out to be a loyalist and a murderous one at that.  Joshua Hett Smith, who helped Benedict Arnold with his treason, used the Rifle Camp Road and stopped for help at the Ryder farm in his successful escape from the Godwin tavern to safety within the British lines.

"If Ryder could return, he would be amazed to see the Sowerbutt Quarries, dug far into the face of the edge of the mountain that, in his time, seemed impregnable.(In reference to the Sowerbutt Quarry of Clifton and Sowerbutt Quarry of Paterson.  Opened in 1901 by James A. Sowerbutt who operated it until his death in 1916. His son-in-law, Abraham Vandermade & his son operated it until it was sold to Warren Brothers in 1969.)

(Source: William Belcher. September 1, 1928. The Thomas Ryder Farm, Passaic County Historical Society Publication, the Passaic County Historical Society , Lambert Castle, Paterson, NJ . http://www.lambertcastle.org/ryder.html)

The name Pearl Brook came from the fact that someone found a peal in a fresh water mussel (this species is now long gone).

1824-1924  --  the "Morris Canal," National Registered Landmark, flowed through West Paterson.

1913 (Jan. 7) – the "Borough of West Paterson" was proposed.

1914 (May 1) – voters of the district voted 194 to 20 to approve the new borough.

At the formation of the new borough, the community was primarily agricultural, producing dairy products and various vegetables and fruit. There were a number of farms in the area. On Rifle Camp Road were the Geisler Farm, the Coons Farm (opposite Great Notch Reservoir) and the Zurcher Farm.

Before World War I, a group called the Paterson Ramblers used to come here a lot.   They published their walks and mentioned many beautiful wildflowers in large patches -- flowers which are now long gone.

6/05/04.  Went on a Torrey Botanical Trip with Joe Labriola.  The day threatened rain, but it never appeared in any real volume.  Joe showed us the old quarry which is an absolutely huge area.  It will shortly be covered with condos.  The condos will stretch from Route 3 to the Great Notch.  Hovnanian bought the area.  Good views over Clifton and out to Manhattan and Newark. As the West Paterson website said: "The 1980s and 1990s saw the construction of several townhouse and condominium complexes with luxury housing units. And, with the availability of undeveloped land rapidly disappearing, developers looked to the Borough’s two quarries for buildable space."

Joe mentioned that oak wilt is affecting the oaks in New Jersey.  Trip participants: Patrick Cooney, Rosemary Cooney, Ed Emerson, Yirka Emerson, Dee Ann Ipp, Roberta Morganstern, Sarah David Rosenbaum, Margie Shore, Bill Standaeart and Eleanor Standaert, The trip leader was Joe Labriola.   By: Patrick L. Cooney.

(The Borough of West Patterson: A Brief History. http://www.westpaterson.com/history.html)


The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has a 2.2 mile/2 hour hike on the yellow-blazed Rifle Camp Trail in a counter clockwise direction. http://www.nynjtc.org/trails/record/20030424.htm


This is an oak-hickory forest.  There are three watersheds that come from this area.  They all go into the Passaic River.  The Third River (Pearl Brook); the Wessel Brook; and a small unnamed stream.  

Joe Labriola and Peter Both and the Torrey Botanical Society
dates = dates plants found in bloom

Acer negundo (box elder)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple) 4/08/00
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Albizia julibrissin (silk tree) 8/09/97
Amelanchier arborea (common shadbush)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch) -- lots in the vernal pond
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory) 5/20/95
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory) 5/20/95
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Celtis occidentalis (American hackberry)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Castanea mollissima (Chinese chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash) 4/08/00 near
Gleditsia triacanthos (thorned honey locust)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juglans nigra (black walnut)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry) 5/20/95
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Picea rubens (red spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine) planted
Pinus sylvestris (scotch pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Populus grandidentata (large-toothed aspen)
Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
Prunus cerasifera ("Thundercloud"?) (purple leaf plum) 4/08/00near
Prunus ‘Kwanzan' (cherry) planted
Prunus persica (peach) 4/08/00
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus baccata (just finished crab apple on 4/08/00 5/20/95)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras) 4/08/00
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)  -- almost all gone now
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry) 5/09/98
Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry) 5/20/95
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen) 8/09/97
Chionanthus virginicus (fringe tree)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush) 8/09/97
Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern)
Deutzia scabra (deutzia)
Diervilla lonicera (bush honeysuckle)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Eubotrys racemosa (fetterbush) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Forsythia x intermedia (forsythia)
Gaultheria procumbens (teaberry)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Hibiscus syriacus (rose-of-Sharon)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Kerria japonica (kerria) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Ligustrum sp. (privet) 6/05/04
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 4/08/00
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle) 5/20/95
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Philadelphus (mock-orange)
Rhamnus frangula (European buckthorn)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea) 5/09/98 5/20/95 lots of it
Rhus copallina (winged sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa carolina (pasture rose)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/05/04
Rosa palustris (swamp rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) 5/20/95
Rubus sp. (dewberrry) 6/05/04
Salix discolor (pussy willow) 4/08/00
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Sorbus acuparia (European mountain ash) 5/20/95
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush) 8/09/97
Taxus baccata (English yew)
Vaccinium angustifolium (early lowbush blueberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) 4/08/00
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry) 5/09/98 6/05/04
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum) 5/09/98
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum) 5/20/95
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (porcelain berry)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Dioscorea villosa (wild yamroot)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) 6/05/04
Menispermum canadense (moonseed)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false buckwheat)
Rubus flagellaris (dewberry) 5/20/95
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry) 5/09/98
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade) 8/09/97
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)

Acalypha virginica (three-seeded mercury) 8/09/97
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Ajuga reptans (bugleweed) 5/09/98 6/05/04
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane) 8/09/97
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp) 6/05/04 soon
Aquilegia canadensis (columbine) are there any left given the indiscriminate picking of park visitors? yes
Arabis lyrata (lyre-leaved rockcress) 5/09/98 6/05/04
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla) 5/09/98
Aralia spinosa (Hercules' club)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asarum canadense (wild ginger)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Asclepias tuberosus (butterfly milkweed)
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 8/09/97
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) 5/20/95 6/05/04
Bidens frondosa? (beggar ticks)
Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress) 4/08/00
Cardamine parviflora (dry land bittercress) 4/0800
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed) 8/09/97
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Chelidonium majus (celandine poppy) 5/09/98
Chelone alba (white turtlehead)
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 8/09/97
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)
Chrysosplenium americanum (golden saxifrage)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) 6/05/04
Claytonia virginica (spring beauty) 5/09/98
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed) 8/09/97
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Coronilla varia (crown vetch) 6/05/04
Corydalis sempervirens (pale corydalis) 5/09/98 5/20/95 6/05/04
Cunila origanoides (dittany)
Cypripedium acaule (pink lady's slipper) 5/20/95
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 8/09/97
Desmodium paniculatum (tick trefoil)
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 8/09/97
Draba verna (whitlow grass) 4/08/00
Epilobium ciliatum (willow herb) 8/09/97
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 5/20/95 6/05/04 8/09/97
Erigeron strigosus (lesser daisy fleabane) 8/09/97
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Eupatorium serotinum (late flowering boneset)
Eupatorium sessilifolium (upland boneset) 8/09/97
Eupatorium sp. (Joe Pye-weed)
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge) 6/05/04
Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge) 8/09/97
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 8/09/97
Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry) 5/20/95
Galium sp. (bedstraw) 5/20/95
Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Geum canadense (white avens) 8/09/97
Hedeoma pulegioides (American pennyroyal) 8/09/97
Hedyotis caerulea (bluet) 4/08/00 5/09/98 5/20/95 6/05/04
Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower) 8/09/97
Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke) 8/09/97
Heuchera americana (alumroot)
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed) 8/09/97
Hieracium piloselloides (glaucous king-devil hawkweed) 6/05/04
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)
Hypericum gentianoides (orange grass St. Johnswort) 8/09/97
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johnswort)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow star-grass) 5/09/98 5/20/95 6/05/04 8/09/97
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) 8/09/97
Iris (dwarf iris)
Krigia virginica (dwarf dandelion) 5/09/98 5/20/95 6/05/04
Lemna sp. (duckweed) -- covers one small pond, a former quarry area for the rock to build the dam here
Lepidium campestre (field pepper) 6/05/04
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper) 6/05/04
Lespedeza sp. (bush clover)
Linaria canadensis (blue toadflax) 6/05/04
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs)
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) 8/09/97
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Ludwigia palustris (marsh purslane)
Lunaria annua (honesty) 5/09/98
Lycopus americanus (American water horehound)
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife) 6/05/04
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower) 5/09/98
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Melampyrum lineare (cowwheat) 6/05/04
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) 8/09/97
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) 6/05/04
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil) 4/08/00 5/09/98 planted
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose) 8/09/97
Oxalis dilennii (yellow wood sorrel) 6/05/04
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) 8/09/97
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed) 8/09/97
Paronychia fastigiata (forked chickweed) 8/09/97
Phlox subulata (moss pink) 5/20/95
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Plantago major (common plantain) 8/09/97
Polygonatum biflorum (hairy true Solomon's-seal) 5/20/95
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy Solomon's seal)
Polygonum arenastrum (common knotweed)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum persicaria (lady's thumb)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum virginianum (Virginia knotweed)
Potentilla argentea (silvery cinquefoil) 6/05/04 8/09/97
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) 5/20/95 6/05/04
Potentilla recta (sulphur cinquefoil)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 5/20/95 6/05/04
Polygonatum biflorum (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum virginiana (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 5/09/98
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 8/09/97
Pycnanthemum muticum (mountain mint) 8/09/97
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (mountain mint) 8/09/97
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved crowfoot)
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup) 5/20/95
Ranunculus bulbosus (bulbous buttercup) 5/09/98
Ranunculus ficaria (lesser celandine) 4/08/00
Rhexia virginica (meadow beauty) 8/09/97
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed susan)
Rumex acetosella (field sorrel) 6/05/04
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Sagittaria latifolia (broad-leaved arrowhead)
Scleranthus annuus (knawel) 4/08/00
Scutellaria lateriflora (maddog skullcap) 8/09/97
Silene antirrhina (sleepy catchfly)
Silene caroliniana (wild pink) 5/09/98 5/20/95
Silene stellata (starry campion)
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 6/05/04
Sisyrinchium angustifolium (blue-eyed grass) 6/05/04
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's-seal) 5/20/95
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod)
Solidago gigantea (smooth goldenrod) 8/09/97
Solidago juncea (early goldenrod) 8/09/97
Solidago patula (rough-leaved goldenrod)
Solidago sp. (goldenrod)
Stellaria graminea (lesser stitchwort) 6/05/04
Stellaria media (common chickweed)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Tanacetum vulgare (common tansy)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 4/08/00 5/09/98 5/20/95
Tragopogon dubius (fistulous goatsbeard) 6/04/05
Trichostema dichotomum (blue curls)
Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Trifolium repens (white clover) 5/20/95 8/09/97
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus looking glass)
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Uvularia sp. (bellwort)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) 8/09/97
Verbena hastata (blue vervain)
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) 8/09/97
Veronica arvensis (corn speedwell) 5/09/98
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica peregrina (purslane speedwell) 5/09/98
Vicia tenuifolia (narrow-leaved vetch) 6/05/04
Viola (ovate-leaved violet)
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet) 5/09/98
Viola sagittata (arrowhead violet) 4/08/00 5/09/98 5/20/95
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 5/09/98 5/20/95

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)

Carex laxiflora type (loose flowered type sedge)
Carex lurida (sallow sedge)
Carex ovales (ovales type sedge)
Carex pensylvanica( Pennsylvania sedge) 4/08/00
Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)

Agrostis perrenans (autumn bentgrass) ?
Andropogon gerardii (turkey claw grass)
Andropogon virginicus (broom sedge)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Bromus tectorum (downy chess grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Danthonia spicata (poverty oatgrass)
Deschampsia flexuosa (hair grass)
Digitaria sanguinalis (hairy crabgrass)
Festuca pratensis (meadow fescue grass)
Festuca rubra (red fescue grass)
Glyceria sp. (manna grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Panicum commutatum (panic grass)
Panicum dichotomum (forking panic grass)
Panicum latifolium (panic grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Setaria viridis (green foxtail grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (northern lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Equisetum sp. (horsetail)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polypodium virginianum (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers)
cup lichen
hair-cap moss
Sphagnum capillaceum (sphagnum moss)