On Saturday, August 26th I had planned to visit Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey with Cindy. After visiting the house and grounds, I though we might hike the 3 mile loop trail in back of the manor house. The first tour of the house was at 11:00 AM so we did not hurry to leave the house. As we were getting ready, Sheila was excited until I explained she could not go on this adventure. I always feel bad when I leave her behind but we had been on a long hike the day before and I promised to take her out after church on Sunday. We left Livingston Manor at 10:00 AM and headed south and east on State Route 17 to exit 131 at Harriman. From here we took Route 17 south through Tuxedo to the village of Sloatsburg. I turned right on Sterling Mine Road and continued until I saw the sign for Ringwood Manor on the right. We drove in paying only $7 to park in the lot which was almost empty at about 11:40 AM. We walked over to the park office and bought tickets for the noon tour for $3 each. While we were waiting we strolled around the house and I took some pictures of the buildings and the garden. On the front lawn we found some interesting articles. There was a large chain which I knew was supposed to be from the chain use to block the Hudson River during the Revolution but was a fake. There was a Civil War era mortar with an iron base which made it sturdier than those made with a wooden base. There was also a small cannon from the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides. Promptly at noon our guide opened the door to the house and all five of us who were on the tour gathered around. After a few preliminary comments we entered the house. I was disappointed that photography was not allowed inside! The Ringwood area produced much of the iron for the American colonies throughout the Revolution and after it as well. The once belonged to Robert Erskine who was the cartographer for Washington during the Revolution. After his death, the land was sold to the Ryerson family who built a modest 10 room house in 1810 and continued to mine iron. This part of the house still stands. In 1853 the 19,000 acres of land was purchased by Peter Cooper and this included the Ringwood Manor area. Cooper bought the land to exploit the iron mining and to add it to the holdings of the very successful Cooper Hewett Company. At some point Mrs. Hewett decided to expand the existing house starting in 1864 until it had over 50 rooms and more than 20 fireplaces. Her hand in the design can be seen in most of the rooms as Mr. Hewett had a say in only three of the rooms! The Hewetts also improved the grounds of the manor with gardens. The house was lighted by gas lamps been after electricity became popular. At one time the family owned 40 custom made carriages of different types. As we toured the rooms of the first and second floors, Cindy and I were both impressed. The building from the outside is not that impressive but the inside is magnificent. Much of the building and the furnishing are original as are the numerous collections the family accumulated. The guide was very informative about the house, the ground and the people who lived there. It is definitely a place to visit and I would go back to see the whole thing again! The family donated the house and grounds to the State of New Jersey in 1938. The tour lasted almost exactly and hour an 15 minutes but I easily could have listened for another hour. After the tour concluded we decided to hike the blue Ringwood Manor Loop Trail to the north of the Manor.
Cindy went to the car to change into hiking shoes and to lose her sweater. I decided not to take my pack and to just carry my camera. We walked to the back of the manor house to a gate in the fence. The Avenza app on my phone came in handy to tell us we were in the right spot. I turned the GPS tracking on in the app so that I did not have to carry a separate GPS unit. The results from the app are very good but it does use a lot of battery. We started off heading west until the blazes directed us to turn right or north at .1 miles. The trail started uphill gently as a wide and almost flat trail. We passed by some very large trees and at .25 miles the white connector trail headed off to the right as we stayed left on the blue trail. It was nice to walk the trail but there wasn’t much to look at. At .5 miles the rail headed west and then at .7 miles it turned southwest. We crossed a couple of small streams and then approached the area where the yellow Hasenclever Iron Trail crosses the blue trail. This trail connects many of the iron mines in northern New Jersey and there was one marked on the map that I though I might like to visit. Just before the point where the trail crossed I spotted a pit that was not marked on the map. It looked very much like a small mine except I could see no tailings. I took a picture and then continued along the main trail to 1.15 miles where the yellow trail crossed. Just beyond this point we crossed a larger stream without any problems. The trail ran parallel to the stream for a short distance and then turned more to the southwest and began to climb. At 1.55 miles we hit the highest spot on the trail at which point we began to descend and head due south. The trail was rocky in places which made walking difficult. When we reached 1.9 miles the trail made a loop so that at 2.1 miles we were headed northwest on a woods road. The road continued to descend and I was desperately looking for something interesting to see. At 2.5 miles the trail came out from under the trees and we could see a pond off to the right. We walked over to the pond which had a rather substantial stone dam. On the map it was labeled as Sally’s Pond after one of the Hewett children but it served as a mill pond. I took pictures of the dam and the pond. We then walked back up towed the road and spotted the cemetery a little further on. When we got to the cemetery, I took some pictures and then walked over to two graves surrounded my an iron fence. These were the graves of Robert Erskine and one of his workers. We walked won toward the shore of the pond and found the graves of some of the Hewett family. Abram and Sarah Hewett are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in New York City as he was mayor and a three term congressman. We continued back to the point that we started on the blue trail and from there went to the car. We had spent 1 hour and 20 minutes hiking 3.1 miles and exploring the pond and the cemetery. As we drove away from the manor, we took a moment to stop at the carriage house. The carriage house was well laid out with three different carriages in good condition and several displays related to equestrian events. I took pictures and then we returned to the car for the drive home.