Doris Duke Trail

Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary, Sterling Forest (9/28/2013)

We returned to Sterling Forest today to hike in an area labeled the Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary on the 2013 edition of NYNJTC Map #100 (Sterling Forest). The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is in the process of creating a loop in this area called the Doris Duke trail. We headed there today to check out the progress following the route indicated on map. But apparently the route indicated on the map will not be the final route, so the map will be out-of-date as soon as the final loop is created. We learned this first after seeing hundreds of blue and orange ribbons within the forest always within eyesight of the woods roads we took today, and second, we met a Sterling Forest park ranger who was actually walking the proposed SW part of the loop as part of the approval process. He told us that the NYNJTC didn't want to use the woods roads because they are too washed out. Hence, the final path will parallel those roads within the forest. We will be heading back once it is completed, however, because the ranger said that the new loop will have some nice views all the way to Manhattan.

We parked on the small pull-off on Benjamin Meadow Road and headed west into the forest just about 0.1 miles south of the pull-off. We took the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, traversing the newly completed part first. This part will remain accurate and is part of the official Sterling Park network at this moment. This segment is a beautiful new trail that passes huge rock formations and that skirts a swampy area between the trail and Benjamin Meadow Road. Fall foliage is beginning, as can be seen in the photos. At the northern tip of this swampy area the white-and-yellow DD blazes ended and most of the remaining part of the loop was on unblazed woods roads and paths (except for the part that co-mingled with the Jersey Highlands trail) following the map's white-blazed loop. We added a tiny out-and-back along the Jersey Highlands trail which included a vista over Sterling Forest. There is a nice amount of climbing and a few nice views (one not specified on the map).

Total distance hiked today was 4.7 miles in about 3 hours.

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Benjamin Meadow Road

The DD trail head

Old shed at trail head

The distinctive DD blaze

Sturdy bridge

[Photo by Laura]

Look at that leaf drop!



Lots of leaves on the ground

Huge rock formations

Early foliage over swamp

[Photo by Laura]

View from above

Beaver lodge

Gorgeous swamp

Ferns are turning

Explosion of red


Leaves are changing

Old foundation

Canal (?) at northern tip

Reflections in canal

Foundations and walls

[Photo by Laura]


Tiny toad

Beautiful ferns

Partial views along ridge

Climbing to ...

... first view

Zoom to rooftop

Red explosion

On Highlands spur

View from ...

... Highlands trail

Dead tree still stands

Cairns along ...

... the Highlands trail

Acadian Flycatcher

Unmarked view ...

... NE of ...

... the Tor

Wider view


Large cairn

Sphagnum moss

Huge mushrooms

Early fall foliage


Grassy stretch of woods road

Active hornet's nest

Heading down

Lots of ...

... leaf drop

Back to the bridge

Stream under bridge

Leaves on bridge

Frog in stream

View from Benjamin Meadow Road

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