Hiking Ramapo Mountain State Forest - Van Slyke Castle ruins
Ramapo Mountain State Forest - NJ Travel Blog› entry 734 of 1090 › view all entries
I have made many hikes in the past four years of my expatship. The majority of these hikes were done in New York State. That is because New York State has great hiking trails and a diverse landscape. But mostly because the two trail books I use are about New York State hikes...
But, the number of unhiked trails is almost running out. Only the really long hikes and the hikes further away than the Catskills remain. So it was time to look at a new book. And that is why I ended up with a book called 50 Hikes in New Jersey.
Still not completely recovered from my Alaska experience but also longing for a nice hike I decided this was a great opportunity to inaugurate the book. I chose a hike on the Ramapo Mountain State Forest.
Ramapo Mountain State Forest used to be private land owned by Clifford McEvoy. The lands contains a small pond which was later dammed up to create Ramapo Lake. The lands were sold to some private owners. Much of the land was transferred to the State of New Jersey and made into the State Forest in 1976. There are, however still some patches of privately owned land. McEvoy built a huge mansion, called "Ryecliff", on one of the hills. Another huge mansion, "Foxcrest" was constructed around 1909 on the facing hill (Fox Hill) by stock broker William Porter.
Foxcrest must have been a huge mansion with magnificent views. It had its own driveway and a swimming pool. Porter's widow, who had remarried to Mr.
It was a pleasantly short drive to the trailhead at the Skyline Drive. I apparently was not the only person to get the idea of going here, that was the downside of a hike close to the city.
After completing the loop of McEvoy I also walked a bit along the lake with great views, to the white trail that would take me to the ruins of Foxcrest. The trail started with gaining some height, and all of a sudden I found myself in front of one of the walls that surrounds the former Foxcrest site. I must have been in the garden or terrace section, a logical choice, it has great views! I had expected more of the ruins and when I decided to walk on I realized the estate was way bigger than I thought. All of sudden the real house ruins appeared.
After returning via the old driveway that once lead to Foxcrest I finished my hike by walking around Ramapo Lake thinking of the grandeur of Foxcrest that was destroyed by some stupid arsonists.
A very nice video of the ruins can be found here. And of course: more pictures below!