Bike-N-Hike Closter Nature Center

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A less than 3 hour combination bike ride and hike in Bergen County, New Jersey starting at the Main Street in Fort Lee and leading to Closter Nature for a short 2 mile nature hike before riding back.

Activity:Cycling, Hiking
Cycling Distance:20.4 Miles
Hiking Distance:2.0 Miles
Duration:Less than 3 Hours
A partial day cycling and hiking trip from Fort Lee, NJ along Jones and Piermont Roads for a short hike in the woods at Closter Nature Center. The ride is mostly residential with some nice scenery along the way. Though the hike is fairly short Closter Nature Center has some nice trails and water features.

To date, this was the longest bike trip I have taken so I didn't mind the shorter hike.

Starting Point: Main St Municipal Parking Lot in Fort Lee

I realized it's likely not that useful for the full details on the cycling since you may wind up biking from a different destination. If you're driving into Fort Lee though, a good starting point is the municipal lot.

Fort Lee to Closter Nature Center via Jones Rd and Piermont Rd

Distance:10.2 Miles
Duration:58 minutes
Total Ascent:184 feet
Total Descent:430 feet

The ride is mostly down hill from fort lee and relatively flat once you get on Tenafly Rd. Click on the elevation profile to see the full map.

If you're a serious road cyclist, the trip shouldn't take you that long. I ride a hybrid and hadn't really cared about speed since I used to cycle mostly for time. Now that I'm taking these longer bike excursions I've been working on getting a little faster. I managed to do this trip averaging a little over 13 MPH and did it in about 45 minutes.

In addition to getting in better cycling condition I also made a slight modification to my bike while I was ordering parts for a tune-up. I changed my seat post to the Avenir 200 Series Seat Post which is 400mm long. Being able to raise my seat post up a little higher makes me pedal more efficiently. I like the seat post because there are grooves on the post that help keep it from slipping. My old post used to slowly slip down over time without me realizing it. I might not have needed the longer seat post but this one works out better anyway. Small little upgrade until I find a good deal on a used road bike.

Closter Nature Center 2 Mile Hike

Distance:2 Miles
Duration:45 Minutes

Closter Nature Center is a fairly small park when it comes to hiking locations but it's location makes it very peaceful. You don't spend a good part of the hike hearing traffic from a nearby roadways.

The trail can get pretty muddy so bear that in mind. Much of it has boards but you might want to avoid it after very heavy rainfalls.

There are 2 main loops, blue and orange, the rest of the trails just get you towards them. I passed through most of the trails on this trip and it felt way too short.

The parking lot is on the right off Ruckman just after Ruckman Pond. Pull in and find some place to lock up your bike and get ready for the hike.

While I was there I saw a bunch of people coming in to fish in the pond. It's strictly catch and release.

To get to the main trails you'll need to exit the parking lot and cross Ruckman Rd. Once on the other side make a left and continue up the road a short way until you see the start of the trails.

The trails are clearly marked with blazes. In some areas it seems like there are blazes on every other tree! The start of most of the major trails I've seen also have sign posts with a trail map that tells you where you are.

From the trail entrance you start on the white trail. My plan was to go up white to do the orange loop, head up the unpaved road to pick up the blue trail loop then exit the park along the green then red trails. The whole trip was about 2 miles and terrain was relatively easy.

A short way up the white trail you'll see a wooden bridge that marks the start of the Orange trail.

Here's a view from of Anderson Brook from the bridge.

Thanks to the trail crews much of the trails through the wetlands have boards to keep the trails passable. There is a short section where you pass through some tall vegetation which is cool but also makes you flash back to scenes from Children of the Corn.

Before making it to the loop you'll come across another well constructed wooden bridge that crosses what looks like may at some points be either a small stream or wetlands.

The rest of the Orange Trail Loop consists mostly of wide wooded trails.

While most of the trails are relatively flat, they are mostly very.. uhm... rooty?  Probably not a park I would choose to go trail running on, but that's just me.

Once done with the Orange Loop and back over one bridge, I hung a left on the unpaved road to head up towards the Blue Trail. I have a thing about backtracking too much but I really should have in this case. A nicer option would have been to head all the way back along Orange until you hook up with the White Trail and take that up towards Blue. It's a more scenic route. The unpaved road wasn't horrible though.

A short while up the unpaved road you'll see the trail blazes and sign post marking the start of the Blue Trail.

I found the Blue Trail to have a lot of visual interest as it passes through the wetlands. If you're a fan of trail bridges, Closter Nature Center has plenty of them packed into a small space.

I chose to do the loops counterclockwise but either way works. When I was done with the Blue Loop, I decided to take the Green Trail because it passes closer along Willow Brook.

This short trail was narrower than the others and while the terrain wasn't especially difficult, it was one of the few sections I recall having some hilly spots.

That leg of the hike was over quickly and all that was left was a stroll down the Red Trail and out of the park.

I don't remember if Red Trail wasn't that visually interesting or if it was just a bad day for pictures since it was overcast out but I didn't take any other pictures on that part of the hike until I got to the end. When I saw the exit for the trail I felt a bit disappointed it was over so soon.

All that was left to do was make a right on Ruckman and walk back to the parking lot and head home.... Oh wait!

There is another small trail just past the Nature Center Building that circles a smaller pond marked by green and white blazes.

It's not very long but it is a nice little walk. This smaller pond doesn't have a pump keeping the water moving so this time of year the pond was covered in green algae. While short, it is a nice walk and you get to cross another bridge!

Closter Nature Center To Fort Lee via Piermont Rd and Jones Road

Distance:10.2 Miles
Duration:64 minutes
Total Ascent:423 feet
Total Descent:164 feet

I took the same route back (map) and as you can see it's fairly flat until you pass the traffic circle in Englewood. From E Palisade Ave on it's pretty much all up hill. The toughest climb being up E Palisade Ave itself. With all the hills and being tired from the previous biking and hiking, the way home is a little longer than the way there.

All in all a fun trip.

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