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NJ Ghost Lake Trail, Jenny Jump - Hiking

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Lat: 40.915329
Lng: -74.915817

Marker owner: dnorris

Average user rating for this marker: 5

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NJ Ghost Lake Trail, Jenny Jump
Marker Description: Ghost Lake Trail starts at Group Campsite B, the Ghost Lake Trial and the Summit trail (yellow) run jointly for a short distance and then the Summit Trial turns right. The Ghost Trail begins as a woods road and then becomes a narrow footpath as it traverses a ridge. On the way down, it passes glacial rocks and ends at Ghost Lake on Shades of Death Road. Public access to the State Forest exists from this road. Cars may be parked at the boat launch area at Ghost Lake.

As the story goes, Jenny Lee was chased by a scorned suitor and jumped from the ridge - death before dishonor. Jenny Jump State Forest stretches between the four Warren County Townships of Frelinghuysen, Hope, Liberty, and Independence. Park headquarters and the main section are perched between the historic villages of Hope and Great Meadows, while the most southerly segment approaches Mountain Lake just north of the Pequest River at Buttzville.

The forest contains outcroppings estimated to be 1.6 billion years old, some of the oldest rocks on earth, whose banding marks belie their origins deep beneath the earth's surface. Later lifted by intercontinental collision to form ancient mountain chains 15,000 feet high, this fault is part of a larger ridge and valley geologic province that stretches to Alabama. Much later, only 21,000 years ago, a glacier's terminus a few miles south meant the birth of Great Meadows and the Pequest River. Water from the melting glacier accumulated behind the terminal moraine to form the prehistoric Lake Pequest. The lake's outlet waters eventually cut through the natural dam, draining the lake, leaving muck soil formed from the decomposed organic matter that accumulated on the lake bottom. In the late 1800s, areas were cleared, drained and used for intensive cultivation of vegetables and sod in this uniquely fertile soil, the Great Meadows.

The glacier, which was over a mile thick, finally receded 21,000 year sago, leaving behind moraines, kettle holes, erratics, and other features. An erratic is a rock that was transported by glacial ice to its present. site. Limestone boulders, originally part of the 500 million year old Kittatinny Limestone formation, came from the Kittatinny Valley to the northwest.

Over the shallow bedrock and between huge boulders and ledges lives a mature hardwood forest, some of whose trees have invaded the rock with roots wedged in ever widening crevices. Rows of white pine, planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps, fringe the hardwoods. The Corps, who occupied this land in the 1930s, also built the original roads and the Orchard Trail picnic area, probably planning a public recreation area even before its acquisition by the State of New Jersey.

On the southeast side of the ridge in the park's main section sits the Greenwood Observatory, established by the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey in 1992. At its 1,100 foot perch, the telescope is not only a little closer to the stars, but enjoys one of the few "dark sky" locations in New Jersey, relatively devoid of light source pollution. The facility is a 10' x 10' roll-off roof structure housing a 16 inch Newtonian Telescope for use by all UACNJ observers and for public programs. On the property, a building, converted from a private residence, houses a lecture room for public programs, a sales desk offering books and other astronomy related items, a display room, a radio astronomy/ham-radio room, and a maintenance shop.

Greenwood Observatory

The upstairs has a large meeting room and an office/library. For those wanting to observe all night, a full kitchen, bath, and a bunk room are available. The 16 inch telescope magnifies up to 800 times which allows you to see Venus, Mars, and more remote planets; hitch your wagon to other galaxies and nebula (remnants of an exploding star); or have an up-close and personal with the man in the moon. There are two hour programs each Saturday evening from 8-10 pm which may include topics ranging from a children's guide to the stars to current issues in astrophysics. Subjects for the weekly programs are announced at the park office or on the UACNJ website. Whatever your particular interest, you will enjoy an enthusiastic group of hosts, eager to help you on your way across the universe.

The relationship between the Park and UACNJ, actually a a loosely associated umbrella networking group for New Jersey area amateur astronomy clubs, has been a fruitful one. Five additional observatories are under construction, three of which will be run by member clubs. The UACNJ will maintain a solar and a research observatory with a special chronograph and a hydrogen alpha telescope which looks at the sun in red wavelengths. A seventh observatory is in the planning stages and will house the recently donated 28 inch reflecting telescope in a building on top of mountain with full domed roof. When these projects are complete, the UACNJ facility at Jenny Jump will be the largest in the tri-state area dedicated to amateur astronomy.

Visitor Comments

Re: Ghost Lake Trail Jenny Jump Posted by dnorris Tue. March 23, 2010 08:37 pm
Stopped in to check out the observatory. The observatory is open from 8 to 10 p.m. from April through October. See pics.
more photos

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