Sea life and other fossils can be found in numerous spots in the area. Below are directions and descriptions of fossil locations. Note: I am NOT an expert on fossils, just a casual passive collector. I think they're cool. That's it. My expertise is on finding them, not in knowing how old they are or their proper names.
On this page I will discuss some of my finds and favorite collecting locations. I have visited and collected at all sites listed on this page.
My focus has always been on minerals, but I have been lucky enough to find many fossils right in my neighborhood, in Montague, NJ. I am not "into" fossils as much as I am into minerals, however, I do find them interesting and I do enjoy hunting the area for them. I live close to a fossilized ridgeline, and in just this small area, I have found numerous types of brachiopods(clam shells), gastropods(snail shells) and crinoids(corrugated straws), as well as several nicely preserved Trilobite fossils. I have also traveled around the area and found fossils in other locations as well.
In Marlboro, NJ, I have collected fossil sharks teeth.
In Carbondale, Pa. I have found fossilized ferns, calamites and other swamp plants.
In Dingman's Ferry, Pa. I have found fossilized oysters and clams.
In Milford, Pa. more brachiopods.
In Raymondskill, Pa. a variety of marine fossils, including Trilobites.
In Laurel Run, Pa., more brachiopods and marine fossils.
In Maconaqua, Pa., Even more brachiopods
In Deer Lake, Pa. Large Brachiopod fossils
In Saint Clair, Pa., White fossilized ferns in black shale
In Central NY, plentiful marine fossils.
In Schoharie, Highland Mills, Glenerie, Worcester, Center Valley, NY more marine fossils of numerous varieties
In Little Falls, NY, Trilobites
...and of course, lots of fossils in my home town of Montague, NJ.
NJ-1. TRILOBITE RIDGE, MONTAGUE, NJ
UPDATED 2016 - The Classic fossil site known as Trilobite Ridge is an exposure that is part of a huge upheval of devonian-era sanstone and limestone. It is rich with fossils, but in only a very thin exposure. It is on the eastern tip of the formation (runs north-south) called a hogsback. It is just inches under soil level and any disturbance for construction or excavation immediately brings up the fossilized rock. Fossils have been found in nearly white super fine-grained limestone, medium gray sandstone and dark gray-blue shale all on the same ridgeline. This ridgeline of limestone begins in Montague, just north of Rt. 206 and travels northeast to a point just south of the Baashakill refuge in Deerpark, N.Y. In 1909 geologic reports, this ridgeline was named "Trilobite Mountain" or "Trilobite Ridge". The section I have collected is just south of Port Jervis, and is accessed via streets in my neighborhood. There are several fossils on display in the Franklin Mineral Museum fossil room from this ridge. This entire ridgeline is private property and requires permission to visit. The current landowner of the last open section is okay with collectors visiting the site, but not in big groups. Several homes have been built on the north end of the ridgeline, burying parts of the ridge forever. I will gladly discuss the site with anyone interested in a visit. E-mail me for current site status and instructions.
OTHER NY/NJ METRO AREA SITES
NJ-2. Hamburg, NJ.- World-famous Stromatolite exposure. NO COLLECTING AT THIS SITE!! Photo-op only!! See what is known as the BEST fossilized Stromatolite exposure in the U.S. A huge rock face covered with the remains of stromatolites that were once on the edge of the sea. Also on adjacent rocks are very well preserved Oolites, another fossil from the seas as well defined glacial striations. A must see for every geologist, but don't even think of collecting there!! From Rt.23, drive to Hamburg. At the railroad bridge, turn into Gingerbread Castle Road (Left turn from the northbound lane, a right turn from the southbound side). Drive 1/2 mile on Gingerbread Castle Road and make a left onto BallyOwen Drive.(BallyOwen Estates). stay to the right and drive on the loop road all the way to the back of the development. Turn left on the short dead-end road leading to the clubhouse. Park by the clubhouse and explore the rocks exposed along the road as well as on top, behind the stromatolite exposure.
NJ-3. Highland Mills, NY Classic fossil locality - This one is in the history books and is still producing abundant fossils. Heavily fossilized orange colored sandstone in layers with fossilized shale. Take Rt. NY 32 north of the Woodbury Commons Mall in Harriman to the town of Highland Mills. Turn right onto Park Av. and go 1/2 mile to where the road turns sharply to the right. Park in the gravel area there. Don't block the gates!! Walk in the gravel road towards the railroad tracks. Cross the tracks and turn left (north) and walk along the tracks about 1000 feet. You will see the outcrop with the shale pile below. WARNING- this is a heavily used rail line with high speed trains!!! Dont walk on the tracks!! Don't allow any rocks to fall on the tracks while you work!!
NJ-4. Big Brook Fossil shark teeth and marine fossils. - Sift in a stream bed for sharks teeth and other marine fossils. Easy to find specimens and cool off at the same time! Bring insect repellent during the summer! NJ 18 to NJ 79 NORTH. Drive 1/4 mile on 79 North and turn right on Vanderberg Road. There are 2 access points. #1- Go 1/2 mile and turn left on Boundary Road. Drive 1.2 miles and park on the right side just above the bridge. Walk down to the brook and turn left, heading upstream. There are no collecting restrictions in this section of the brook. If you go downstream from the bridge, there are collecting restrictions as shown on the sign at the bridge. Access site #2 - Once you turn onto Vanderburg Rd., Go approx 1 mile and turn left on Hillsdale Rd. Drive 1.4 mile and park in the parking area by the little bridge. Obey all posted regulations and restrictions. *At this location, you may not use a screen that measures more than 16" on any side!
CENTRAL NEW YORK FOSSIL SITES
NY-1. Glenerie, NY Limestone Fossil Beds - Along the banks of the Esopus Creek lies the tiny hamlet of Glenerie, NY, in northern Ulster County. On the south side of this blink-and-miss-it town, lies a stretch of limestone outcrops that are quite prolific producers of Devonian-era fossils. You can find fossils in the rubble at the bottom of the ledges. And, With some light hammer and chisel work, you can obtain specimens from the outcrops filled with fossils. The outcrops are located along Route US 9W, on the east side of the highway. There is parking for several vehicles at the south end on the opposite side of the road. The shoulders are wide enough to allow collecting while not getting the feeling that you are about to be run over. The site is on Rt. 9W in Glenerie, about 3 miles north of Kingston, and the intersection with Rt. US 209. As you drive north on 9W, watch for a light blue metal building on the right. After passing that building, go another 1/4 mile and you will see a large gravel pull-off on the LEFT side of the road. Park there. Walk across 9W and start walking North. You can observe the limestone outcrops and ledges along the road for the next 1/4 mile. The fossil layers will be quite evident within the outcrops. It is fun and interesting to walk the whole exposure and observe the fossil history contained within!
NY-2. Rickard Hill fossil beds, Schoharie, NY - An incredible fossil location. So many fossils, you won't believe your eyes!! From I-88, Exit 23 for Rt. NY 30A, Schoharie. Turn South on Rt. 30A, which quickly becomes NY 30 South and drive 1 mile to Schoharie. ***OR... Take the thruway north to exit 21, Catskill. Take rt. 23 west 10 miles to Rt. 145. Take rt. 145 35 miles to the village of Middleburgh. Turn right on NY 30 North and go 5 miles to the village of Schoharie. ***IN SCHOHARIE, at the blinking light, turn East onto Prospect St. and go 1/8 mile. County Rt. 1B (Rickard Hill Road)veers off to the left. Follow Rt. 1B for 1/4 mile to a wide open road cut. That's it!! Search the road cut all over! There are fossils galore there.
NY-3. Little Falls, NY Trilobite beds - Great Trilobite hunting in a streambed in a very productive formation in Central NY. From the NY Thruway (I-90), take exit 29A. Turn right onto NY 5S. Drive about 1 mile and make a right onto County Rt. 102 (Creek Road). Drive 1/2 mile and park on the right side of the road, just before the steel bridge. Walk down the bank and into the stream bed (Nowadaga Creek). The trilos can be found by splitting apart layers of the shale found along the stream.
NEW 12/2016 - NY-4. Earlville, NY Area fossil exposures - Plentiful marine fossils can be found in and around the tiny hamlet of Earlville, NY in central Chenango County. Nearly every road cut, rock pile, mountainside and rock wall in the area contain fossils in a brown to gray sandstone. Drive the back roads and look for exposures in the area. Earlville is accessed via NY State Rt. 12B, North of Sherburne. The following sites are near Earlville, and contain excellent fossil exposures. They are in order so that you may take a single driving tour and visit all of the sites.
NY4A.-Deep Springs Road Fossils - Plentiful Marine fossils 4 miles West of Earlville, in several exposures along Deep Springs Road. Take County Rt. 62 (Nower Road/Lebanon Road) West out of Earlville. Drive 3 miles and turn Left on Deep Springs Road. Exposures along this road.
NY-4B. Briggs Road Fossils - A roadside fossil exposure with prolific marine fossils and an occasional Trilobite. from Earlville, continue North on Rt. 12B, to Middleport. Turn Left on Middleport Road(CR77). Go 1 mile, and turn Left on Randallsville Road(CR75). Drive 1/4 mile, and bear Left on CR73-River Road. Drive 1/2 mile and turn Right on Briggs Road. Drive 1 mile. Fossil exposure will be on the right.
NY-4C. Soule Road Quarry Fossils - An abandoned quarry provides collectors with numerous fossils, close to the Briggs Road site. Drive North on River Road(CR73) from Briggs Road, about 1 mile. Turn Left on Chamberlain Road. At the first crossroad, the road turns into Soule Road. Continue straight to second crossroad(Bradley Brook Road). Cross and continue 100 feet on Soule Road. Quarry is on the left.
NY-4D. Geer Road fossils - Outcrops along Geer Road are excellent sources of marine fossils, near Soule Road location. Go back East on Soule Road to the crossroad. Turn right (south) on Bradley Brook Road. Go 1/2 mile, and turn Left onto Geer Road. Exposures along this road.
NY-4E. Cole Hill Fossils - Further North on Rt. 12 from Earlville, lies the tiny hamlet of North Brookfield. On a local road, there is a huge fossil exposure containing plentiful marine fossils in a road cut. At the Junction of Route 12 and County Road 78 (Main St./Swamp Road), Turn West on Swamp Road (CR78) and drive 3/4 mile to Cole Hill Road. Turn Right (CR78) and go 1/10 mile. There is a large rock cut on the left side of the roadway. Park there and happy fossil hunting!
NY-4F. Beaver Creek Road exposures - In the area of Cole Hill is another fossil exposure to explore. from Rt. 12 at North Brookfield, Turn RIGHT on Main Street. Drive about 4 miles to Skeneateles Turnpike(CR80). Turn Left on CR80 and drive 1 mile to Brookfield. Turn Left on Beaver Creek Road. Fossil exposures 2 Miles North of Brookfield on Beaver Creek Road.
NY-5. Tully, NY Fossil Site - Behind the Tully Best Western is a classic and very popular fossil collecting site. Containing plentiful marine fossils, and the occasional trilobite, this site is easy picking and great for a family outing. Located just off I-81 North, on NY Rt. 80, the Best Western can be seen from I-81. The fossil exposure is well worked and is directly behind the motel. Park in the furthest spots away from the buildings.
NY-6. Pompey, NY Road Cuts - On US Route 20, there are numerous fossil sites at roadcuts across the state. However, the area around the hamlet of Pompey seem to contain more abundant fossils than the others. This area is East of I-81 on US 20, in the area of Pompey and Pompey Center. Numerous road cuts in the area.
NY-7. Bump's Creek, Afton, NY - Multitudes of fossils can be found in a creek within the village of Afton, NY in Chenango County. Plentiful fossils include Crinoid, Brachiopod, and Gastropod, and others. Easy picking, and a great way to spend a day! Be prepared to get wet as you will be walking through the creek to access the fossils. Crack hammer and chisel are helpful. From I-88, Exit 7 for Rt. NY 41 in Afton. Take Rt. 41 North to the center of town. Cross Rt. 7 and continue North on Rt.41. You will see the entrance for Afton Central School on the left as soon as you cross Bump's Creek. Park in the main lot, and walk upstream in the creek, keeping your eyes open for fossils. There will be 2 waterfalls in the creek. The best fossil area is between the first and second waterfalls, and just upstream.
P-1. Carbondale Fossil Ferns and Plants - This is one of my favorites! Fossilized fern plants in dark shale as well as fossilized swamp grasses and large pieces of fossilized trees! Easy pickins and plenty of room to work! I-81 or I-84 to Scranton. Pa. Follow signs for Rt. US 6 EAST. Take US 6 east to exit 6, Meredith St. Turn left on Meredith St. and take it to the bottom of the hill. Turn right on Business Rt. 6 East. Go 1 1/2 miles and watch the left side for the Carbondale Schools (Green roofs on the buildings). Just past the school, before the old car dealership, turn left onto Westside Dr. Go 200 feet and turn left. Go over the small bridge and go up the hill into the apartment complex. Count the buildings on the right. Between the 3rd and 4th buildings, there is a gravel road next to a dumpster. Drive in on the gravel road and bear to the left, driving behind the complex. You will see straight ahead of you a HUGE mountain of mine tailings. That's the spot!! Drive to the end of the gravel road. Park there and walk in to the mountain of tailings. Fossils can be found by simply digging around in the tailings. FYI- The Carbondale Fossils were extracted from the Llewellyn Formation. They formed during the Pennsylvanian age. Thanks to Tom Buckley for the geologic information!!
UPDATED 12/2016 - Collecting status at this site is now questionable. 1 1/2 years ago, the owners had announced that the site was closed to collecting due to overzealous collectors using heavy machinery at the site, but since then, some collectors have been to the site without any problems. All I can say is Enter at your own Risk! P-2. St. Clair, Pa. Fossil Ferns - A huge pit of shale that produces prolific fossilized ferns crusted in white that makes the fossils stand out from the host rock. This is what makes this location totally different from the Carbondale site. From the north: I-81 south to exit 124. Take Rt.61 South to St. Clair. Turn LEFT onto W. Hancock St. (Set your odometer to zero here!!) Travel EXACTLY 2.8 miles. There will be a dirt road on the right and a gravel pull off at that point. Park in the gravel pull-off. DO NOT drive down the dirt road! WALK down the dirt road 750 feet. at that point the dirt road will split right or left. Go LEFT and walk another 750 feet. You will come upon a large open shale pit on the right. That is the spot. You can find fossils throughout this area, just look down! I Recommend a backpack or hand truck to carry out your finds. The walk out is uphill! You can also pry into the bedrock and split apart layers to find more fossils. Directions from the South: Take I-78 to exit 29 and take Rt. 61 North through Deer Lake to St.Clair. Turn RIGHT onto W. Hancock St., set your odometer to zero and drive 2.8 miles to the gravel pull-off, and follow directions above. **As of 2013, this site is in danger of being turned into a recycling facility, closing it forever. Collecting is still possible at the site, but this may change in the near future.
P-3. Deer Lake, Pa. Fossil pits - A productive area in eastern Pa. that has numerous outcrops and borrow pits producing many brachiopod and other fossils. From I-78, take exit 29 and follow Rt.61 North for 5 miles to the junction with Rt.895 (right side). Continue on 61 until 895 turns off to the left. Go 200 feet on 61 and look for the large borrow pit on the left opposite the church. Other outcrops in this area are also productive.
P-4. Maconaqua, Pa. Fossil ledges - I-81 to Pa.309 (Wilkes-Barre), 309 West to Rt. 11 South to Pa.239. Left on 239, go over bridge and make first left. Park at the end of the road and enter the public hiking trails. Fossils can be found throughout the shale banks along and near the trails.
Special note on the fossil sites in the Milford, Pa. area: The area south of Milford, along Rt. 209 and 739 is controlled by the National Park Service, and is heavily and strictly patrolled. Although plentiful fossils can be found, it is ILLEGAL to collect fossils anywhere in this area. I have a friend who was casually hiking, and was spotted by a ranger picking up a fossil and putting it in his pocket. He was arrested and questioned before being released. Even though I have collected in this area in the past, I would not advise doing it now.