Pyramid Mountain Park & Tripod Rock in Montville Township, New Jersey
Bill Maloney

01NYCSkyline 02TripodRock 03BalancePoints 04BalancePoints 05BalancePoints
NYC Skyline
Tripod Rock
Balance Points Balance Points Balance Points
06BalancePoints 07BalancePoints 08SecondaryBoulder 09NotchForStaff 10EquinoxAlignmentPoint
Balance Points Balance Points Secondary Boulder
Notch For Staff Equinox Alignment Point
11TripodRock 12BearRock 13BearRock 14BearRock  
Tripod Rock Bear Rock Bear - Another view Bear Rock with Person for scale

Tripod Rock at Pyramid Mountain Park

These are shots of Tripod Rock and Bear Rock at Pyramid Mountain on Boonton Ave in Montville Township, NJ. Tripod Rock is a large glacial erratic (boulder deposited by a glacier) balanced on top of 3 other smaller boulders. It is said that this glacial erratic was used as an ancient astronomical site by early native Americans. Supposedly if you sit in the cleft on the smaller boulder next to it and hold a straight staff in the notch that would be between your legs, the staff would align with the peak of the larger boulder and the sun at noon on the day of the Equinox.

In the fall of 2006 I returned to the site and checked the alignment between that smaller boulder and the peak of Tripod Rock. Now I'm not so sure they would align on the equinox. On November 17 the sun was well to the right of the peak of the main boulder when I aligned the two points by eye. There are two other boulders about 30' due north of Tripod Rock. The boulder that is the closer of these two has a peak which I think just might align with Tripod Rock's peak on the equinox. I suppose a hike at Pyramid Mountain on the equinox would answer that question.

Bear Rock is a much larger glacial erratic further along on the trail. It's amazing what the power of a glacier can do.

The trail is about 5 or 6 miles total. The Pyramid Mountain Park office with parking and facilities marks the start of the trail (at the intersection of Boonton Ave & Mars Ct., Montville NJ. Take Route 287 to where it intersects Route 23 in Riverdale, NJ. Take Route 23 North then take Rt 511 South. You will have to go just past 511 to take the next jug handle to reverse direction and turn right onto Rt 511). Pick up a trail map at the visitor's center which is open Wednesday through Sunday 10:00 AM through 4:30 PM.

There is a fairly steep climb at first then a very good view of the NYC skyline. When I go I always pack a lunch and stop at this point to find a nice spot to sit and eat and take in the view. The boulders are easiest to see when the leaves are off the trees. If you have hiked the Pyramid Mountain trails in the past and want to make the trip again today, be sure to get a map from the visitor's center and pay careful attention to the trail blaze marks. Sections of the trail have been closed and re routed in at least 3 areas so if you were familiar with the trails in the past you may not be today.

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