It was in the fall of 1969 that I first set foot on the Appalachian Trail.

I was sitting on the east shore of Greenwood Lake with some local friends and mentioned to them the rock outcroppings on the mountain across the lake. They told me of the “Appalachian Trail, an old Indian trail” that ran across the top of the mountain.

Greenwood Lake is more than 600 feet below as the AT traverses Bellvale Mountain in Warwick.

Before this, growing up in Bergen County and more likely to venture off to Greenwich Village or downtown Paterson, I had never even heard of it.

The next morning, along with a friend, we headed up 17A and found the trailhead on Continental Road and started out on what would become the first of many hikes and backpacking trips along the AT.

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The lure of the Indian legend (unfortunately not true) dominated our conversation; with each feature we looked at, it was, I wonder if this giant oak tree was a little sapling back then, or “Do you think the Indians sat up on the top of this huge rock along the trail with their tomahawks, ready to jump down on their enemies?

It was a special moment when we stepped out onto those very same rock outcroppings that we had seen from below and could see almost the entire lake stretched out below us and the New York skyline in the distance.

The Village of Greenwood Lake lies in the valley beneath Bellvale Mountain at the Village Vista overlook.

It was the start of a personal love affair with hiking and the AT in particular. I have now hiked more than half of the AT’s 2,178 miles from Maine to Georgia but to this day my favorite hike is right here, off Continental Road, a magical place filled with special memories.

– Gene Giordano, Warwick

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