These are some of the best local rockhounding spots located within easy driving distance of our area. All directions start off from Port Jervis, NY.
KEY - *=Known location but we have not yet explored or collected from.
**=Location we frequently collect from and highly recommend.
** Montague quartz crystal deposit - see quartz crystal page.
** Mountaintop Rd. Fossil Beds. A bluff overlooking a housing development that has many nice deposits of devonian-age fossils. Many brachiopods, crinoids, pelecypods, and gastropod fossils, as well as other marine-life fossils can be found strewn about on the ground and in small ledges and outcroppings. A few trilobites have also been recovered in this area. Take NJ23 south from Port Jervis. Right on CR653 (Clove Rd.) 1/2 mile then Right on Beach Dr. 500 feet then left on Lakeview. 750 feet then Right on Curving Hill Dr. Go to the end of the road. At the top of the hill is a cul-de-sac, park there. Walk down the dirt road to the right of where you parked. At the end of the dirt road, enter the woods to the right and go to the top of the ridge. The fossils are to the right on the ridge. Look all over, they are scattered all around. Look for small shale outcroppings in the trees as well as light colored rocks on the ground. NEWS!!! There appears to be some new excavating work getting ready to begin near the fossil area again. This is very exciting because the last time land was cleared for a house, a treasure trove of fossils was exposed. Hopefully, this time will be as good or better!
* Trilobite Mountain. Famous in Port Jervis history for fossil collecting. Accounts of fossil finds there date back to the 1800's. The mountain is located between US Rt. 6 to the east and County Rt. 80(Neversink Dr.) to the west. The only access to the mountain is via hiking trails installed in summer 2007 by the NY-NJ Trail Conference. These trails traverse the entire mountain. The trailhead is on Old Greenville Tpk. just outside of Port Jervis. Our club has not yet explored this area, so the exact locations of prime collecting spots are not yet confirmed. The website of the NYNJTC speaks of shale ledges along the trail that are famous for fossil collecting. When we find out exactly where they are, we will post the exact directions here.
** Ellenville Minerals. A very nice deposit of small pyrite and quartz crystals formed on dolomite can be found in an old quarry in the city of Ellenville, NY. The quarry is open to the public and collecting is allowed. US209 north from Port Jervis to Ellenville. Right on NY52 1 mile. At stop sign, turn LEFT and make second right on Berme Road. 200 feet, then turn right into Berme Road Park. Drive up to parking lot. Look for information kiosk by the trees. That is the entrance to the quarry. Follow the trail in for about 75 feet, then bear right where the trail splits. You will then be entering the quarry. The Pyrite/quartz deposits are on the rock face at the far back of the quarry. Some light climbing will be required.
** Wurtsboro (Shawangunk) Lead Mines. These are abandoned lead mines, open to the public to explore and collect from. There are numerous minerals to be found there. The mines are located on the hillside behind Wurtsboro Airport. The only access is on an old railroad bed and public hiking trails. US209 North to Wurtsboro. At traffic light, turn Right on Sullivan St. Go 1 mile and at hairpin curve, turn left onto VFW Road. Follow road to end (VFW hall on right-its an old train station). Continue straight ahead on the old rail bed. Go 1 1/4 miles and look for an old dirt woods road crossing the railbed. Park there. The first mine will be just down the hill between the railbed and the airport. Look down ant to the right for the open clearing with no trees. It looks like a sandpit. That's the easy one, but it's also the smaller one. The better mine is way up the hill to the right(1/2 mile up). It also is a large open clearing with an old concrete foundation. It is a very strenuous climb, but worth every bead of sweat! The views from up there are really nice, and there is a MUCH better selection of specimens. You may get a better idea where these are by going on Google maps, getting the aerial photo of the area and pinpointing the 2 mines. They are directly behind the airport.
** Carbondale Fossil Ferns. This place is great! I love going here. There are tons of fossils to be found here. There is fossil ferns, swamp grass, swamp plants, and even fossil tree bark! It's all over in heaps and piles from an old strip mine. Very cool. US6 west out of Port Jervis into Pa. Follow US6 all the wat to Carbondale. US6 will open up to be a 4-lane highway. Exit onto Rt. 107, Archibald. Follow 107 for about 1/2 mile and turn right onto Business Rt. 6. Go 3 miles on Business Rt. 6 and watch for the Carbondale Schools on the left (big buildings with green roofs). Just past the schools on the left is a Ford dealer. Turn left onto the street just before the Ford dealer. Turn left again, go over the small bridge and up into the apartment complex. On the right, in between the 2 buildings, you will see a couple of dumpsters. Drive in the dirt path next to the dumpsters. (it's OK to do this!) Follow the dirt path to the left and drive behind the complex into the woods. Follow it to the end and park there. You will see the enormous mountain-like piles of shale straight ahead of you. Walk to the piles on the footpath.
** Franklin Mineral Museum and The Buckwheat Dump - This location offers mineral collecting daily from April thru November. The museum is small, but very cool. They have a "mine replica" which is sort of lame, but the tour guides are very informative. Geared more towards families and kids, though the mine dumps offer world-class collecting possibilities. Rt. NJ23 to Franklin. Turn on County Rt. 631 and go 1/2 mile. Turn right on Buckwheat Rd. then left on Evans St.
** Sterling Hill Mine Museum - A FINE day trip to explore a real mine and its workings. Mineral collecting is allowed for a fee on the last sunday of each month. The mine tour is very good. The mineral display at the start of the tour is breathtaking, and the flourescent mineral display at the end of the tour is world class!! HIGHLY recommended! NJ 23 to County Rt. 517 South. Go 2 miles to Ogdensburg. Turn right on Passaic St. and go 1/2 mile to entrance.
** Amity (Pine Island) NY sites- Just east of the town of Pine Island, NY is a small hamlet called Amity, just off County Rt. 1. This is a famous mineral location. It is the northern end of the Franklin Marble belt and contains a vast array of available minerals, totally different from the minerals of Franklin and Ogdensburg, even though they are part of the same geologic belt. Collecting is easy at any of the numerous road cuts. There are collectible rock outcroppings all over this area. Get a local map for this one!! Just look for the white and tan exposed marble along County Rt. 1, County Rt. 26, Amity Road, Horseshoe Road, Mountainside Rd, Price's Switch Rd., Walling Rd., Hedges Rd., Little York Rd. and Sussex County Rt. 515 (the NJ end of Prices Switch Rd.). Each particular spot contains its own unique mineral mix. Minerals known to be collected in the area are: almond calcite, white marble, franklinite, spinel, tourmaline, diopside, zircon, amphioble, hedenbergite, hornblende, pargasite, wollastonite, vesuvianite, ilmenite, corundum zinc, mica and warwickite. Many flouresce under SW UV light. The very best time to collect in this area is early spring because the roads here are very narrow and the snowplows often dig up the sides of the roads, exposing new and exciting minerals every year. Take US6 East 5 miles from Port Jervis to County Rt. 1. Follow Rt. 1 for 19 miles to the village of Pine Island. After traffic light, go another 1/2 mile on Rt.1. All the roads listed above will be in this area. (except CountyRt.26 which is AT the traffic light) A local detailed street map will be VERY helpful here.
** Hewitt/West Milford NJ purple/white quartz conglomerate (puddingstone) - On Warwick Tpk there are large deposits of what looks like deep purple and white "polka-dot rock" along the roadway. (just as the road starts going down the mountain. You can't miss it!) This is some beautiful rock! It is actually a conglomerate of non-crystalized, massive white quartz, ruby-red quartz, and deep purple amethyst quartz, called "puddingstone". Many small chunks litter the roadside, since there was a recent road widening project, so the pickin's are easy. The entire "belt" of this rock runs for about 1000 feet from the crest of the hill downward. Take NY 94 south of the village of Warwick. Look for signs for Upper Greenwood Lake. Follow that road (County Rt. 21 - Warwick Tpk.) for 4 miles into West Milford, NJ. 1/2 mile after you pass the ballfields on the right, Watch for big yellow sign for "HILL". AS SOON as you start going down the mountain look on both sides of you at the road cuts. You'll know you're in the right place immediately!! There are many parking spots on the uphill side of the road to park in.
**Anthony's Nose, Fort Montgomery, NY - Mineral-rich mountain on the east end of the Bear Mountain Bridge, on US 6 in Fort Montgomery, NY. Parking in the scenic overlooks along US 6. Collecting areas are along road cuts of US6, the downhill slope towards the river where numerous road-widening projects have created material which was simply dumped over the edge and down the hill. Collecting also along the railroad tracks along the river. There are also abandoned mines on the mountain that have huge tailings piles you can pick from. After the bridge, turn left on rt. 9D. Go 1 mile and turn right on Manitou Rd. Go 1/4 mile and there will be a dirt road on the right with a gate across. Park there. Walk in past the gate and look for a rusty stream. Follow that stream uphill for a few hundred feet and it will bring you to the big tailings piles.
** Rickard Hill Fossil Beds, Scoharie, NY - (a day trip) Abundant marine fossils in a very wide open road cut. Actually, abundant is not the correct description of this site. EVERY rock that is there is FULL of fossils. Many fossils there "pop" right out of the host rock intact! It is a fossil hunter's dream! Also some nice pale blue calcite/chert has been found at this location. Easy parking and easy collecting. NY 17 west to exit 94, Rt.206, Roscoe. Follow 206 West for 10 miles to Rt. 30. Turn Right on Rt. 30 and go 63 miles to the Village of Scoharie (a long but very scenic drive). ***--OR--*** Take NY Thruway to Catskill (exit 21). Take rt. 23 west 9 miles to Rt. 145. Take Rt. 145 north 35 miles to Middleville. Turn right onto Rt. 30 north and go 4 miles to Scoharie. IN SCOHARIE, At the flashing light, turn right onto Prospect St. Go 1/4 mile. County Rt. 1B (Rickard Hill Rd.) veers off to the left. Drive up the hill 3/10 mile and you will see the wide open road cut through the shale on the left side. That's it. Go past the road cut further up the hill and turn around. Park along the road cut facing downhill, pulling off the road as much as possible. We dug there all day and no one ever gave us a second look. A premier location!!
* Vernon, NJ quarries - Several abandoned quarries in Vernon, NJ. Park near the RR tracks, near the light at NJ94/CR517 intersection (south of the ski slopes-Falls View diner at the light). A lot of land to explore! No posted signs as far as we could see. Future trip to explore and report.
** Barton Garnet Mine, North River, NY - This was a nice place to visit. The garnet mine was interesting, but they only give you 1/2 hour to "mine" there. No tools allowed except small hand spades and garden cultivators. You are actually able to collect some nice stuff in the time allotted. Garnets are everywhere at the mine. $10 plus $1 per pound collected and 1/2 hour of collecting time. NY 28 to Barton Mine Road. 5 miles to entrance.
** Hooper Garnet Mine, North River, NY - Same garnet as Barton Mine, except this mine requires a small hike and you can dig there at your leisure. No restrictions except that I would hold off on the really heavy equipment as it may attract unwanted attention. Rt. 28 north to North River. Turn left onto Thirteenth Lake Road and go about 4 miles. Turn left on Garnet Hill Rd. and proceed to the Garnet Hill Ski Center. Across from the ski shop is a tennis court. Next to the tennis court is a gravel driveway. Pull up in and park behind the tennis court. The drive splits, stay on the trail to the right. It brings you right into the mine. Nice stuff to be found there.