SCHUNEMUNK MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
north of Central Valley, Orange County, NY
2,500 protected acres on the 7,000 acre mountain


Directions:

US 87
40 Exit 16 -- Route 17 N
44.2 Exit 131 -- Route 32n (Central Valley)
46.9 Park Avenue
49.3 overpass
51.0 Black Rock Preserve
51.5 Star
51.8 left turn
52.3 left turn (Taylor Road)
yellow trail


Geology:

The Taconian Highlands once formed the eastern margin of North America. They were gradually and imperceptibly erased by the relentless agents of erosion.

Waves washing the western shore of the Taconian Highlands deposited approximately one thousand feet of a quartz-pebble conglomerate known as the Shawangunk conglomerate. This thick conglomerate partially represents the sand and gravel eroded from the mountains as they extended down into the waves, ending as battered cliffs along a rocky shoreline. It also partially reflects the sediment carried down by rivers and deposited along the beach of this rocky shoreline. This was a time when the highlands were tall and majestic, thrusting their peaks possibly as far as twenty thousand feet into the clouds.

By Middle and Late Silurian time, the mountains were appreciably reduced by erosion. Not only the volume of sediments decreased, but the size of particles transported by the slower moving streams also diminished. Mud and sand accumulated over the Shawangunk gravels and farther west, in the deeper, offshore miogeosynclinal waters, these shales and sandstones grade laterally into limestones.

By Late Silurian time only fine muds were transported to the shoreline -- a shoreline ever advancing northward and eastward on to the eroded vestiges of the Taconian Mountains. By now these mountains were reduced to low hills. As the volume of mud transported by sluggishly moving streams over a low, gently rolling terrain decreased, the miogeosynclinal seas became rather clear again, and, covering the eroded folds of these hills, limestones and dolomites began to accumulated in appreciable thickness in the warm, shallow waters. It is these Upper Silurian limestones at Pine Plains that unconformably overlie the severely contorted Ordovician shales, which were directly affected by the Taconian Orogeny. These Silurian strata, which accumulated in the miogeosyncline immediately offshore from the Taconian Highlands, indicate that no additional orogenic activity took place. Rather they reflect a period of comparative crustal stability. During that time, the highlands were attacked and reduced to low hills by erosion in less tan 40 million years.

Source: Van Diver, Roadside Geology of New York

This is an impressive ridge, double-crested on its north end, nearly 1700 feet high. It is more than 8 miles long from its southwestern end near Monroe, on the main line of the railroad, to its northeastern point, near Salisbury Mills. It is composed of sandstones, shales, and conglomerates of Devonian time, with Silurian as well as Ordovician strata at its base. It is part of a long ridge of similar strata extending forty miles southwestward into New Jersey, past Greenwood Lake and Green Pond, and ending at a point near Lake Hopatcong. It was formed as sediments in a narrow sound of the ancient sea. At the beginning of Silurian time this sea surrounded the "Old Land," Appalachia, in which was included much that is now New England, eastern New York, and northern New Jersey, together with land now covered by the Atlantic.

Woodbury Creek heads north to Moodna Creek between Schunemunk on the west and US 87 on the east (around the interesection of Us 87 and 32 it switches to the east of US 87). 


History:

The name Schunemunk (pronounced "shun-uh-munk") means "excellent fireplace" in the Algonquin tongue of the Leni Lenape (Delaware) tribe that originally inhabited the area.

Mountainville Conservancy was organized to preserve the Schunemunk ridge from development.

1996  --  the Open Space Institute purchased the 2,100 acre mountain preserve.  This purchased was made possible by a grant from the Lila Acheson & DeWitt Wallace Fund for the Hudson Highlands.

2001 (March 2) --  NY Governor George Pataki dedicated Schunemunk Mountain Preserve as a new state park. (Groups such as the New York City chapter of the Adirondack Club and New York-New Jersey Trail Conference played important roles in bring this about.)

(Source: http://www.championtrees.org/oldgrowth/surveys/Schunemunk.htm)


Trails:

Trail heads are easily accessed from:
the southwest from NY 17 (Exit 129, Orange-Rockland Lakes);
the south from NY 32 (The Long Path, from the railroad trestle in Woodbury);
the northeast (Jessup Trail, from Taylor Road off Pleasant Hill Road in Mountainville).

Some interesting vegetation is found in spring-fed Barton Swamp is found in a slight depression in Schunnemunk's summit and extends a mile in a narrow cove.

You can see Storm King Art Center from the top. It was started in 1960 by industrialists Ralph E. Ogden and Peter Stern. It is a 200 acre sculpture garden displaying more than 100 monumental outdoor sculptures by contemporary artists. It is located west of the Highlands' gorge in the town of Mountainville. (Dunville 1991:201)


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
6/2/95  = plant found in bloom


Trees:
Acer negundo (boxelder)
Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) planted *
Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya ovata var. microcarpa (shagbark hickory variety)? *
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Morus rubra (red mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus edulis (pinyon pine) planted *
Pinus rigida (pitch pine) -- many gnarled and stunted
Prunus serotina (black cherry) 6/2/95
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) 6/2/95
Tilia americana (American linden)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Shrubs:
Chimaphila maculatum (spotted wintergreen)
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry) 6/2/95
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle) 6/2/95 waning
Prunus pumila var. susquehanae (dwarf plum) *
Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)

Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter flower) 6/2/95
Rhododendron sp. (rhododendron, hort.) 6/2/95
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/2/95
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) 6/2/95
Syringa sp. (lilac)
Vaccinium sp. (low bush blueberry)
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry) 6/2/95
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum) 6/2/95
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet) 6/2/95

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 6/2/95
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Anthemis cotula (mayweed) *
Arabis missouriensis (green rockcress) * new to Hudson Highlands
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus) 6/2/95
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) 6/2/95
Chelidonium majus (celandine) 6/2/95
Chenopodium sp. (pigweed)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 6/2/95
Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed) 6/2/95
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge) 6/2/95
Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge) 6/2/95
Galium mollugo (wild madder)
Geum vernum (spring avens) * new to Hudson Highlands
Hedyotis caerulea (bluets) 6/2/95
Hesperis matrionalis (dame's rocket) 6/2/95
Hieracium caespitosum (field hawkweed) 6/2/95
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow star grass)
Iberis umbellata (globe candytuft)
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Lamium purpureum (purple dead nettle) *
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) 6/2/95
Osmorhiza claytonii (sweet cicely)
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) 6/2/95
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 6/2/95
Polygonatum biflorum (true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) 6/2/95
Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish) 6/2/95
Rumex acetosella (field sorrel) 6/2/95
Silene noctiflora (night-flowering catchfly) 6/2/95
Smilacina racemosa (Solomon's plume) 6/2/95
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 6/2/95
Trifolium campestre (low hop clover) 6/2/95
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 6/2/95
Trifolium repens (white clover) 6/2/95
Tulipa sylvestris (tulip) *
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell) 6/2/95
parsley

Rushes and Sedges:
Sciprus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Grasses:
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass) 6/2/95
Festuca sp. (festuca grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem grass)


Raymond Torrey in a 1930s article states that he found Potentilla tridentata on what he called "High Knoll" growing in crevices at the highest point on that part of the ridge *

* = Mitchell, Richard S. 2002. "A perfect day on Schunnemunk." NYFA Newsletter, Vol. 13 No 2, May, 2002.