Sterling Forest, Orange County, NY


US 87 west; get off at exit 15A; at light turn left onto Route 17 north; pass through towns of Sloatsburg and Tuxedo Park, and pass by the Sterling Forest State Park information Center; park on Route 17 north just north of the intersection with Route 17A.
Mileage Marker
10:37 intersection Route 17north with US 87 north
10:12 Seven Lakes Drive
10:00 sign for town of Tuxedo
13:63 Orange County
13:49 Augusta Furnace sign
13:30 Sterling Forest Information Center
13:29 Intersection with Route 17A
13:21 Southfield town limits
13:23 parking pull-off (on right) closest to entrance way to Spruce Pond hike (on left) -- cordoned off
13:19 Red Apple Rest
12:97 Arden Valley Road
12:90 Arden Homestead/Clove Furnace


Spruce Pond is on the 875-foot Wildcat Mountain.


In 1925 the Boy Scouts developed here the Rock Oak Forest Ranger Camp for 60 scouts. Later it was known as Spruce Pond Scout Camp. It was abandoned in the early 1980s. (Myles 1991:377-378)


Park along 17A north shortly after going under Route 106. Walk north along Rt. 17A north and then cross the road at an overgrown dirt road heading uphill that is closed off with a chain. Follow the trail up hill to Spruce Pond. It is not that far of a walk. The trail forks. Staying left will take the hiker to the eastern side of the lake. Turning off to the right takes the hiker to the westerns side of the pond. We took the eastern branch. We came upon the hulk of an abandoned hall with a big stone chimney. We decided to walk all around the Pond. Walking on the eastern side of the pond we came upon another lean-to with a frying pan and a sauce pan hanging up on the wall with a lot of firewood gather by the lean-to. There was a patch of Japanese barberry here. We kept following a somewhat overgrown path that took us to the southern end of the pond by a large marsh/swampy area. We crossed over the pond's outlet creek and then walked through a small beech forest and then followed along somewhat below the eastern ridge and finally came upon two lean-tos. We at lunch at the second one to get out of the wind.

After lunch we walked down toward the pond a ways and came to our fourth lean-to. There is a great view of the lake here -- the best of all the lean-tos. Walking back to where we started we came back to the trail that brought us up the hill. We followed downhill to our car.

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney/Michael St. John

Acer rubrum (red maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Castanea americana (American chestnut)
Fagus grandifolia (beech) lots at southwest end of marsh
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Larix sp. (larch)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Picea mariana (black spruce)
Pyrus malus (apple)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak) lots
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Rhus sp. (sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) -- lots near lean-to on eastern side of pond
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf)
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepper bush)
Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern)
Decodon verticillata (swamp loosestrife)
Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen, checkerberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium sp. (lowbush blueberry)

Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Agrimonia sp. (agrimony)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Anemone cylindrica (thimbleweed)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 10/03/01
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 10/03/01
Bidens cernua (nodding bur marigold) 10/03/01
Chenopodium album (lamb's quarters)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 11/15/00
Echinocystis lobata (wild cucumber)
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Hedeoma? (penny royal)?
Hypericum gentianoides (orangeweed)
Lechea sp. (pinweed)
Lespedeza hirsutum? (bush clover)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) 10/03/01
Mollugo verticillata (carpetweed)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Nymphaea odorata (fragrant white water lily)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 10/03/01 11/15/00
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet) 10/03/01
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)
Solidago bicolor (silverrod) 10/03/01
Solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod) 10/03/01
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod) 10/03/01
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadow-rue)
Triadenum virginicum (marsh St. Johnswort)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)

Rushes and Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (sedge)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Elymus sp. (grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer tongue grass)
Panicum dichotomiflorum (fall panic grass)
Panicum sp. (panic grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Setaria sp.
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Polypodium sp. (polypody fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)

Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)

See Sterling Forest: Cedar Pond for low shrub bog plant list.


The excursion of August 5, primarily for a visit to the American Museum of Natural History station for the Study of insects, near Southfields, NY, included an unexpected pleasure, a swim in the cool, spring fed waters of Spruce Pond, which was grateful on a day with the temperature approaching the nineties. The Brooklyn Boy Scouts have been given the use of this place, for a lean-to camp group, by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and their leader, Archibald T. Shorey, an enthusiastic amateur botanist, welcomed the party with hospitality in the form of cold lemonade, and the use of a boat, in which the shores of the little bog-line tarn were comfortably examined.

This little pond, high up on Wildcat mountain, is quite unsuspected from the busy Ramapo Valley motor highway. Its plant associations are very interesting. Its name is from a small, scattered stand of red spruce, one of the most southern at such an altitude. There is also considerable American larch or tamarack, likewise an extreme southern stand in the east. Around the boggy shores the Virginia chain fern is abundant, with

Andromeda polifolia
Drosera rotundifolia
Calla palustris
pitcher plant
other bog loving species

Mr. Shorey reported Pogonia ophiglossoides and Blepharioglottis psycodes and lacera, in the dense and watery depths of the tamarack swamp. The pond is covered with white water lilies, one of the most numerous colonies remaining in this region.

Raymond H. Torrey pp. 103-104

Spruce Pond is a botanical paradise something like Cedar Ponds east of Greenwood Lake, with a Glacial Period relict flora of red spruce, tamarack and Andromeda polifolia, and perhaps other northern plants. It lies in a shelf basin on Wild Cat Mountain, 1000 feet above sea level and has been little disturbed by man.

Archibald T. Shorey of Brooklyn, one of the leaders of the Boy Scot open lean to camp at Spruce Pond, in the western part of the Harriman State Park, near Southfields, NY . . .has sent the chairman of the field committee a list of twenty ferns which the Scouts have found during the past summer about the locality. P. 112

Osmunda cinnamomea
Interrupted fern
Royal fern
sensitive fern
Christmas fern
broad beech fern hexagonoptera
bracken fern
maidenhair fern
Woodwardia virginica chain fern -- around edges of pond in water one to two fee deep, the best stand of this species in the Harriman Park
Dryopteris marginalis Marginal shield fern in the dry woods
Dryopteris spinulosa (spinulose shield fern) in the dry woods
Woodsia obtusa blunt lobed woodsia top of cliff overlooking Greenwood Lake road
Woodsia ilvensis rusty woodsia on cliffs back of pond
hay-scented fern
ebony spleenwort
rattlesnake fern low ground north side of pond
New York fern
Athyrium thelypteroides silvery spleenwort swamp sections around pond
Dryopteris thelypteris marsh fern

Millspaugh's Footsteps Retraced after 69 Years by J. Harry Lehr Bulletin vol 80, no 6 pp 515-517 November, 1953

In 1884 Charles Frederick Millspaugh made a report to the Torrey Club on the orchids and sundews of Spruce Pond, NY. His list contained the following species:

Habenaria psycodes
Habenaria hyperborea
Habenaria dilatata
Habenaria blephariglottis
Habenaria lacera
Calopogon pulchellus
Microstylis monophyllos (Malaxis brachypoda)
Aplectrum hyemale
Cypripedium arietinum
Cypripedium candidum
Cypripedium spectabile (C reginae).

The two sundews listed were Drosera rotundifolia and Drosera longifolia (D intermedia).

The middle of June was specifically mentioned as the most opportune time to visit the area. Although the pond is now part of the Palisades Interstate Park system its location is far from the popular sections and it is rarely visited even by hikers. There is a Boy Scout camp on the eastern shore of the pond but the scouts are only seen in the bog during blueberry-picking times. In view of these facts a combined group from the Torrey Club and the Rockland Audubon Society made an exploratory field trip into the area on Sunday, June 14, 1953, in an effort to relocate some of the species in Millspaugh's report.

Because of the rugose nature of the bog, the group was divided into two units. One unit explored the bog proper while the other explored the borders. The entire extent of the bog was scoured but the only orchid found was Pogonia ophioglossoides, which was not mentioned by Millspaugh. Both sundews were found and in addition the unit located plants of interest in other genera including Kalmia polifolia, Nemopanthus mucronata, Andromeda glaucophylla, Menyanthes trifoliata and both of the cranberry species. It was the considered belief of the group that failure to locate any of of the orchids on the list could be attributed to the fact that in the years since Millspaugh's visit what was than an open bog has become a shrub thicket, in many places reaching almost to the water's edge. Nevertheless, Sarracenia has remained abundant.

Meanwhile the second unit, exploring the fringe of the bog, had reported three orchids not found on the bog nor on Millspaugh's list: Cypripedium acaule, C calceolus and Goodyera pubescens. Why did Millspaugh omit these? Were they too common to be considered among his rarities or did he confine his list to those species of the more acid bog proper? The second alternative appears more likely since he reports spending only an hour between trains on the bog and did not himself see the three species of Cypripedium that are not on his list.

The original task of this unit had been the confirmation of a fern list from the same area reported by Archibald Shorey (1928). Of the 21 common species listed, all but Athyrium thelypterioides were located on this trip. In addition, the list was increased by two species: Botrychium dissectum forma obliquum and B matricariaefolium. Monsey, NY