Ramapo reservation has long history and outstanding fall views

With the leaves starting to turn vivid colors and students getting their pumpkin spice lattes at the Dunkin Donuts on campus, it is clear fall is all around us. But, while waiting in line for their next caffeine fix, students might find themselves looking out the windows to the hill just beyond and seeing a whirlwind of colors. 

With others trying to encapsulate the fall experience here at Ramapo in a single photo to post on their Instagram, I would like to highlight the Ramapo Valley County Reservation. While we hear about the reservation all the time in promotional pieces for the college, the trails there can be daunting, with minimal information as to where the trails go and their difficulty. It can be hard to ascertain whether or not you would have enough time or even the suitable hiking gear to make the trek. 

I would like to squash those fears and highlight one trail in particular that would provide the perfect shot of not only Ramapo College but a perfect view of the New York skyline and much more against the backdrop of the beautiful fall colors. 

Starting off with some short history about the reservation, it was originally owned by Alfred B. Darling, who was born in 1821 in Vermont. He made his fortune running several successful Hostelries, starting in Massachusetts, then Alabama before setting his sights on the Big Apple where he played a key role in the Fifth Avenue Hotel. 

With his fortunes, he went out and bought several hundred acres in the Ramapo Valley in 1872 for the low low price of $50,000. He would then commission Colonel Ezra Miller to construct a 27-room mansion, the foundations of which can still be seen some 100 years later. 

Darling would go on to help fund a schoolhouse, aptly named the Darlington Schoolhouse that would turn into a dance studio, and then in 2007 became the headquarters of the New York-New Jersey Trail conference. While the land would pass through several other hands in the 20th century including being used as a seminary from 1926 to 1980s, his hamlet is now home to the Ramapo Reservation we know it as today. 

With that out of the way, let’s get onto what you’re really after — the hike! Starting off facing the Bradley Center, make a right and go down Rhodora Rd-Tupelo Rd and make a left onto Route 202. Take the sidewalk passing by the Trail conference building on your right. The sidewalk will turn into a trail. Continue straight into the woods until you reach a trail on your right. Take that right and it will eventually lead you past Darlington’s mansion. 

Congrats, you’re now in the park! But don’t get too excited, the trail has just begun! Make a right and pass over the many bridges. You will then come across a fork in the road, hang to the left and you will eventually see “yellow blazes” which are little metal or painted squares that signify a trail. Follow those markers until you eventually cross a small wooden bridge. Continue until you reach the top of cactus rock. And just like that, you made it!

The Ramapo Reservation is home to many trails just like this one, so anytime you’ve got some time to kill on the weekend don’t be afraid to truly experience what it has to offer. Happy trails! 



Featured photo by Cameron Adamson