by Mike Hays
There’s a 3.5 mile strip of Rockland County which packs seven points of interest in less than 3.5 miles. Visitors will find four parks, two arts venues, a historic (and a little bit creepy) artillery tunnel, and a cemetery dating back to the Revolutionary War. You can explore Greenbush Road on a bicycle, or on two feet, with parking at several sites along the way.
Greenbush Road was once a major north-south pathway of the indigenous people in pre-Colonial Days before it was absorbed into the Kings Highway system which connected villages throughout New York. Today, it hides in plain site, between the noisy and busy roads Rt 303 and Rt 9W, waiting to be discovered by anyone wanting to take the road less traveled.
In 2019, Orangetown built a short bike/ped path that skirts along the edge of Blauvelt State Park, replacing a dangerous stretch which Greenbush Road and Route 303 share. It’s now a safer bike route, but walkers and hikers should be cautious on this narrow road two lane road.
The seven points of interest are marked with letters on the adjacent Google Map.
A – Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA)
The Rockland Center for the Arts offers art classes, camps, exhibits, and virtual programs at this location since 1947. The Catherine Konner Sculpture Park, a one-mile trail through the woods features an ever-changing mix of large sculptures. A red-blazed trail on the south side of the sculpture trail leads to an overlook at the base of Buttermilk Falls. Check for current exhibits and opening hours at the RoCA museum. During summer children’s classes, the grounds are closed to visitors 9-5 during the week.
B – Buttermilk Falls County Park
Go Take A Hike next door to RoCA at Buttermilk Falls County Park. A blue-blazed circular one-mile hike starts and ends at the parking lot. The north entrance features a steep walk along the falls, mostly dry except for the time of spring water flow and after heavy rainfalls. At the top of the climb, two open areas offer views overlooking the Palisades Center and points west. The return path on the south part of the trail has a much gentler downward grade. Take a longer 2.1-mile hike by turning at the lookouts onto the orange-blazed trail, then turning right on the white-blazed path that reconnects to the blue trail. (Buttermilk Falls County Park trail map)
C – Blauvelt State Park
Part of the Palisades Interstate Park System, Blauvelt State Park has 590 acres of hiking and mountain biking trails. It’s a serene undeveloped space with great views and multiple trails. However, there are no amenities. Hiking boots and walking sticks aren’t a bad idea if you are planning to visit. There’s limited parking on Greenbush Rd near the park entrance, located near the Rt 303 bike/ped bypass path. (Blauvelt State Park trail map)
D – Tweed Tunnels
Nestled inside of Blauvelt State Park is the former Bluefields Rifle Range, a famous pre-WWI rifle range. A graffiti-laden long tunnel used by soldiers to traverse the firing range is a subject of many local myths. Some say it is haunted. Bring a flashlight if you plan to walk the darkened interior. The Tweed Tunnels are also a favorite hangout for area teenagers and giant crickets, chronicled in YouTube videos and in the pages of The New Yorker, too.
F – Clausland Cemetery
Head south on Greenbush Road, the Clausland Cemetery appears on the right. To the left is a view of the southern side of Clausland Mountain. It is possible to park on the shoulder and explore the Colonial cemetery along Sparkill Creek. The cemetery contains the remains of 14 Revolutionary War veterans and eight veterans of the War of 1812.
G – Bell-Ans Center of Creative Arts
Just south of Clausland Cemetery, Greenbush Road changes to an unpaved cinder street as it passes Mountain View Ave. The large, three-story wooden building to the left houses the Bell-Ans Center of Creative Arts. Its name comes from the former pharmaceutical factory, founded by John Lanphere Dodge in 1897, which made digestive aids. Dodge built a large harness racetrack nearby that was also the site of the Orangeburg County Fair for many years. In 2015, Bel-Ans morphed from “From Indigestion to Inspiration,” and is now offers studio and exhibit space to local artists.
Roaming through Rockland covers outdoor destinations to walk, bike or hike in Rockland County.
Sponsored by the Rockland County Tourism.
Roaming Through Rockland includes:
- Five Favorite Rockland Bike Rides, 12/26/2021
- Panoramic Views on The Long Path, 12/4/2021
- History and Scenery Abound in Tappan, 11/27/2021
- The Path on the Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge, 11/20/2021
- Fall in Love with the Hudson (again) at Nyack Beach State Park, 11/13/2021
- Jones Point Path, 11/7/2021
- Tallman Is the Spot For Families, 10/30/2021
- Too Much to See at Harriman State Park, 10/23/2021
- Biking the Trails at Blauvelt State Park, 10/16/2021
- The Grand History of High Tor State Park, 10/9/2021
- The Esposito Trail Is A Stellar Sunday Brunch Ride, 10/2/2021
- RoCA’s Serene Sculpture Gardens, 9/25/2021
- Gazing Out From Piermont Pier, 9/18/2021
- Art, History, and Nature on Greenbush Road, 9/11/2021