Posts Tagged ‘lookout’


We haven’t done much hiking this summer. It seemed that it had just rained, was raining, or was about to rain all summer long. But last Friday was a perfect day, too nice to waste on mundane chores, and we headed out to the Marble Rock trail, north of Gananoque, Ontario. This region is part of the Frontenac Arch, an amazing section of the rugged Canadian Shield that dips down through southeastern Ontario and connects the far north bioregions with the Adirondack Mountains in New York state. The Arch marks an entirely different landscape from the surrounding plains. You can learn more about the Frontenac Arch here.


We completed the South Loop, with a side trip to the North Loop Lookout, a total of 4.7 miles (7.5 km). The east side of the South Loop is the most demanding terrain. If you aren’t climbing up a slope, you’re clambering down another, and the rocky ground can be treacherous. But the scenery is gorgeous.


The forest is primarily deciduous, with trees just beginning to take on the hues of autumn. You didn’t have to look up to know that oak trees were well represented in the diversity. The path was littered with acorns for much of its length, a bounty for wildlife.


Oak trees (Quercus spp) can be divided into two groups, red oaks and white oaks. The red oaks have leaves with pointy-tipped lobes, while the white oaks have rounded lobes. Both were represented in the forest.

Red Oak (Pointed tips)

White Oak (rounded tips)

Acorns weren’t the only nuts to be seen. The shagbark hickory trees (Carya ovata) were also offering up a good crop.

Hickory nuts

Check out the shaggy bark on this example.


Junipers are most often encountered as low-growing shrubs on rocky ground, but there was a sprinkling of pretty, upright juniper trees (Eastern juniper or Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana) decorated with their bluish seeds.


Juniper berries

Around open, damp areas, the white berries of dogwood shrubs stood out on their red twigs.


Dogwood berries (Cornus sp)

Still climbing…


I liked the way this millipede, about 2 inches long, blended so well with the colour of an old log.

Flat-backed Millipede (Polydesmida sp)

And here’s a Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) caterpillar hurrying through the leaves.

Hickory Tussock (Lophocampa caryae)

This tree has been attacked by Phomopsis galls. The galls appear as a cluster of nodules tightly pressed together. When cut open they consist of woody tissue that is a bit disorganized in comparison to the normal wood. Galls of affected trees may develop for several years then die.

Phomopsis galls of hickory

This attractive vine is Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens).

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)

The leaves of this clump of sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica nobilis acuta) are attractive even without the pretty flowers that will bloom next spring.


This colony of ground pine clubmoss (Lycopodium obscurum) looks like a stand of tiny, 6-inch tall pine trees. Clubmosses are ancient plants that were once 50-foot giants, but now carpet forest floors.

Ground Pine (Lycopodium dendroideum)

Rock Polypody (Polypodium virginianum) seems to grow right out of the rock. Their rhizomes and roots trap leaves and other debris to build up a thin layer of soil.

rock polypody (Polypodium virginianum)

It’s not just ferns that can seem to grow from rock. We came across this very large windfall along the trail.


We were amazed to see that much of the ground that lay under its trunk was rock.


We walked through a little grove of Musclewood, or Blue-Beech trees (Carpinus caroliniana). Their smooth bark has longitudinal ridges that really do seem reminiscent of muscles, making them easy to identify.

Musclewood or Blue-Beech (Carpinus caroliniana)

Finally, we reached the North Loop Lookout and settled down on the rocky ledge to enjoy the view as we ate our well-earned lunch.


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Last week, Railguy and I enjoyed a few days of vacation. We began our little excursion with a drive south from Ontario to New Paltz, New York, to visit Mohonk Mountain House. This historic resort was built by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley between 1879 and 1910. It is located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster county, on the shore of Lake Mohonk. The resort has hosted many famous guests over the years including John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Chester Arthur.


Day visitors can enjoy the garden, including the interesting annual beds, pictured above, as seen from the garden lookout tower. You can also visit the small cedar maze and enclosed rose garden, herb garden and ‘blue’ walk, featuring blue and mauve flowering plants.


The greenhouse and garden shop feature an assortment of annuals and perennials, as well as tropical plants.


While horses are still available for guests wishing to go for a ride, the huge barn located near the guest house shows that horses once played a far more important role at the resort. Part of the barn now houses a museum of equipment and memorabilia from bygone days at the inn.


The resort encompasses 2,200 acres, and is bordered by the 6,400 acre Mohonk Preserve. This huge area is crisscrossed by some 85 miles (140 km) of hiking trails and carriage roads. One of the most popular hikes takes climbers up a well-groomed but steep trail to the Sky Top lookout.


The mountain-top tower is visible from miles around. Located on a high point of land known as Paltz Point overlooking Lake Mohonk, the tower is the fourth to occupy the site. The first tower was constructed in 1870. It and two subsequent buildings fell victim to high winds and fire. The current tower was completed in 1923 as a memorial to Albert Smiley.


The afternoon of our visit was very hot, and the climb to the lookout was hard work. However, the view from tower was incredible.


With an unobstructed view in all directions, you can see six states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. And far below sits Mohonk Mountain House.


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