Second Mountain

Over the years we’ve explored the eastern part of South Mountain Reservation pretty thoroughly, but I’ve never gone into the narrow strip west of Brookside Drive. This is eastern slope of “Second Mountain,” a much more wild and forbidding place than the more popular “First Mountain.” No glamorous views of Manhattan, no rivers or streams. Just a steeply wooded hillside with the remnants of a livelier time. Abandoned Path

Close to the top is a lookout called “The Crag.” It shows the signs of being a well-thought-ought piece of Olmstead-style woodland landscaping but like so many other things it’s fallen to neglect.

The Crag lookout

The view has potential, you can see a bit of the reservoir across the road and far below.

View from inside

Some rudimentary maintenance is being done, but it only goes so far.

Cut trees awaiting removal

Even the wildlife is more forbidding. Like this nasty-looking guy.

Critter Skull

Or another silver maple auditioning to be one of the apple trees in The Wizard Of Oz.

Silver Maple

And no, this picture does not need to be rotated 90 degrees.


The paths are narrower, darker, and sometimes start to look more like tunnels through the forest.

Low Path

Here’s a mystery:


The park road is closed to cars, but unlike the similar road on First Mountain this sees so few visitors that moss grows on it.

moss-covered road

After the gloom, the sudden view of a sunlit field is refreshing, and emphasizes how dark the woods have been.


Brilliantly colored sunset clouds line the northern horizon as we get back to the parking lot.


Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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