This evening I felt like taking a second look at an old ruin I had visited several years ago. It’s called Van Slyke Castle and it’s located on top of a mountain in Ramapo Mountain State Forest in northern New Jersey. From what I’ve read, Van Slyke was a mansion built around the turn of the century, passed through a few different hands, but eventually abandoned after an ugly divorce. It was apparently torched by vandals during the 1950s and nature took over from there.

vanslyke - Revisiting an Old Ruin: Van Slyke Castle
Apparently, this is what the mansion originally looked like.
Photos courtesty of http://www.users.nac.net/axtell/History.htm

It was tough to find, but there are better directions to be found online now, unlike when I first found my way there in 2005/6. You can find some good directions here –here  and – here. I went in summer, when the greenery was in full force, so I think the time to visit this place would be in the winter, when you’ll get a better chance to actually see what’s there instead of fighting with nature.

If you think this looks cool and would like to visit Van Slyke Castle yourself, be prepared for lots of walking, including up and down mountains! Depending on what time of the year you go, you should also plan on close encounters with wood ticks and poison ivy (yuck!). But you also get some great views of the castle, the lake below and NYC in the distance.

These first photos are of the ruin itself, followed by other photos of this scenic New Jersey park.

All photos © Colleen D. Gjefle, gjfoto.com

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