I am an active collector. I try to get out there as often as possible to collect for the sheer joy of the trip and the excitement of finding that one-of-a-kind specimen! My favorite times of the year to collect are March-early June, and Early September until the first snowfall. I have even been known to dig around in the snow for rocks once in a while. I frequent sites in Montague NJ, Paterson NJ, Franklin NJ, Sparta NJ, Andover NJ, Colts Neck, NJ, Amity NY, Wurtsboro NY, Ellenville NY, Herkimer NY, North River NY, Schoharie, NY, Roxbury Ct, Trumbull Ct, McAdoo, Pa. and New Milford, Pa for my personal collecting trips.
These are some of MY favorite local mineral collecting spots located within the area. Always check with property owners before collecting on private land. Be responsible collectors. Be safe and don't litter.
If I do not list directions to a particular site, that means the site has restricted access, or requires special permission from property owners. I will not post directions to these sites. I will not give directions to these sites if asked. The fact that I list them here is for informational purposes only.
If I post directions to a site, it means that the site is accessible to the public and collecting is peremitted.
For some cool fossil collecting spots, visit my fossil page!
Sites noted as UPDATED in red have had information added or updated in my most recent updat, 3/10/2014.
**UPDATED Montague, NJ quartz crystal site - Water-clear quartz crystals up to 3" long in clay-sandstone. This site is located on New Jersey Green Acres land, and collecting status is not clear. Living nearby, I can say that the site is actively collected on a regular basis and I have never heard of anyone having any issues collecting there. Access to the site is via Rt.NJ23 in Montague. Park in small parking area next to the bridge over Mill Creek on Rt.23, immediately adjascent to the wooden Welcome To Montague sign, between the Valero Gas station, and the old white farm stand. Walk in on the path along the creek for about 1/2 mile. You will pass an old iron bridge on the way, which was the original route of Rt.23, pre-1930. When the creek opens up to a large marsh, walk another 150 feet, and the site will be on the right. It looks like a big landslide of light colored sandstone. Quartz crystals and points can be found throughout the rubble. Most of the better specimens can be found up at the top, in the bedrock ledge. **NOTE: I put this information back on this website, since the Montague Site was recently published in the book "Rockhounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey" by Robert Beard.
** 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 rocky 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.
**UPDATED Wurtsboro (Shawangunk) UPPER Lead Mines. ***July 2013 - THIS SITE HAS BEEN CLOSED BY NYSDEC FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP. NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC. (side note: The area is not fenced in , just signs hanging on trees. I have not had any problem collecting at the site.)
**UPDATED Wurtsboro (Shawangunk) LOWER Lead mine, tailings and mill ruins. (see side notes above)
** Beemerville, NJ - A classic locality for flourescent sodalite. This is a spot that would require digging at night with a UV lamp. From Rt.23, take Rt. 519 South towards Beemerville. After you pass through Space Farms, Turn right on Crigger Road. (White fence on corner). Drive to the stop sign. Continue straight ahead on Crigger Road to the end. Park there and walk in on the path that goes to the right of the gate. Walk about 250 feet and veer off to the right into the woods. Look for the small raised "hills" and start checking the rocks laying about on the ground with your UV lamp. Both SW and LW UV lamps will make the sodalite veins in the rock flouresce yellow-orange. Note: Recent reports from rockhounds who visited this site have reported a rather unfriendly dog in the vicinity.
** Franklin Mineral Museum and The Buckwheat Dump(FEE) - This location offers mineral collecting daily from April thru November. The museum is very cool. They have a "mine replica" which is sort of geared towards kids, but the tour guides are very informative. The Buckwheat mine dumps offer really nice collecting possibilities, and continues to produce rare and interesting mineral specimens. Rt. NJ 23 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(FEE)- A WORLD CLASS day trip to explore a real mine and its workings. Mineral collecting is allowed for a fee on the last sunday of each month in the Passaic and Noble mine pits. The Mine Run Dump behind the gift shop is open for collecting 7 days a week. The mine tour is very good. The Oreck mineral display at the start of the tour is breathtaking, and the flourescent mineral display at the end of the tour is PHENOMENAL!! HIGHLY recommended! EXCELLENT collecting possibilities on-site and the mine run dump is replenished by staff continuously. Excellent flourescent and daylight minerals available. NJ 23 to County Rt. 517 South. Go 2 miles to Ogdensburg. Turn right on Passaic St. and go 1/2 mile to entrance.
**UPDATED Trackside mineral dump, Franklin, NJ (Rock Dump of the former B.Nicoll Quarry) - Various non-flourescent Franklin minerals in a very old, long abandoned rock dump. An interseting site. Known mineral possibilities are Fluorite, Apatite, Titanite, Phlogopite, and Molybdenum. The land is owned by a nearby Technology Company, but I have had no problems collecting at the site, and in fact, have led a field trip there and had no issues other than nosy, talkative neighbors across the street. From Rt.23 in Franklin, Take Rt.631 towards the Franklin Mineral Museum. Continue past the museum, past the waterfall on the left, and turn left on Cork Hill Road. Drive 1/2 mile, and look for an industrial plant entrance on the right. Continue another 500 feet, looking for a red fire hydrant on the right. Park on the grass just before you get to the hydrant. Be sure not to park too close to the hydrant or risk being ticketed. Walk past the hydrant, and walk in on the foot path to the right. Turn right on the old rr tracks and walk 100 feet. Look to the left and notice a hill with a bunch of busted rocks. this is the site. Many minerals can be found by breaking open rocks, digging around and looking at root balls of fallen trees.
**UPDATED Hardyston Fluorescent Chalcedony - A rock cut in an abandoned housing development has exposed rock coated with bright white platy and bitroydal chalcedony that fluoresces white to light blue, to light violet to deep purple in areas. The host rock fluoresces as well, in different shades of golden yellow and orange in spots through the rock. The rock also has numerous small vugs and voids lined with various minerals including calcite, quartz, black andradite, and others. A very interseting site. A "Night Dig" with SW UV lights might be worth your time at this location. Take Rt.23 into Hamburg. At the railroad overpass, turn into Gingerbread Castle Road (Heading north, turn left, heading south, turn right.) Go 1 mile on Gingerbread Castle Road and look for the town hall and soccer fields on the left. On the right will be Emerald Rd. Turn in and park in the rock cut. Mineral zone is on both sides of the road.
** UPDATED 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.(see the sign photo on my front page) 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., Sussex County Rt. 515 (the NJ end of Prices Switch Rd.)and Sussex County Rt. 517. Each particular spot contains its own unique mineral mix. Minerals known to be collected in the area are: almond calcite, white marble, franklinite, spinel, graphite, tourmaline, diopside, zircon, amphioble, hedenbergite, hornblende, pargasite, wollastonite, vesuvianite, ilmenite, corundum zinc, phlogopite mica and warwickite. A few 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 12 miles to the village of Pine Island. After traffic light, go another 1 mile on Rt.1. All the roads listed above will be in this area. (except County Rt.26 which is AT the traffic light) A local detailed street map will be VERY helpful here. Note: ALL land in this area is private property. Do Not enter private property to collect! It is not advisable to collect from rock walls on people's property either. Even though there are some really interesting rocks in the walls, look, but don't touch! (side note: Much news has been circulating in the Rockhounding world, regarding the recent amazing finds in Amity. If you would like to read up on these amazing finds, go to www.mindat.org and click on the message board. Go to the General Discussion board and scroll down to the thread "Large Crystals found in Warwick, NY. This is incredible and I have had the absolute pleasure of visiting this site, with the owner, Glenn Rhein, and have found some astonishing specimens.)
** Hewitt/West Milford NJ purple/white quartz conglomerate (puddingstone) - On Warwick Tpk in West Milford township, NJ 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, NY. 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.
**Lower Warwick Tpk. road cut - about 3/4 mile down the hill from the puddingstone location there is a road cut that contains many mineralized veins through various host rock. Quartz and calcite veins are easily observed. There are a wide variety of different types of rock in this roadcut and is definitely worth exploring! Some parking in the immediate area.
** Easton Quarry, Easton, Pa. - Collect the beautiful lime-green mineral Eastonite at an old quarry along side of Pa. Rt. 611, just north of US 22 in Easton, Pa. The quarry tailings are piled up along the highwall of the old quarry and climbing around to collect is easy and fun. Take US 22 West out of NJ. As soon as you cross the Delaware River Bridge, Exit for Rt. 611 NORTH. Drive north on 611 for about a mile and you will see a brick water pumping station on the right side along the river. Look to the left side and you will see a dirt/gravel parking spot in the weeds at the entrance to the old quarry. If you pass it by, just turn around at the old garage at the far end of the quarry. You must park in that small parking area or you will get yelled at. Collect along the high wall of the quarry.
**UPDATED White Haven, Hazelton, and McAdoo, Pa. Quartz Crystals - This area is in the heart of Pennsylvania Anthracite Coal country! Right where I-80 and I-81 meet, abounds some of the largest coal mines in the East. Besides numerous exposures of water-clear to white quartz crystals in old long-abandoned coal mines and strip mines, opportunities also abound to find the coveted Peacock Coal and some fossils as well in this area. I am familiar with a few sites in this area, and more remain to be discovered.
**Anthony's Nose, near 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.(see John Betts' Fine Minerals website for a lot more info on this site)
** Anthony's Nose Mines(Phillips Mine) - There are also abandoned mines on the mountain that have huge tailings piles you can pick from. After crossing the Bear Mt. bridge heading east, turn left on rt. 9D. Go 1 mile and turn right on Manitou Rd. Go 1/4 mile and turn right on South Mountain Pass Rd. Go 1/2 mile and watch for the pulloff on the right side where the Appalachian trail crosses the road. Park there. Walk in to the metal gate. Go around gate and continue 100 feet on the A.T. (marked with white trail blazes). Turn left and head through the woods UPHILL for a few hundred feet and it will bring you to the big tailings piles. (If you come across a rusty stream, the tailings will be to its right side. ALSO, when you are looking for the tailings, note that there are absolutely no trees or vegitation growing on or near the dumps. This makes them very easy to find).** FYI - Do NOT attempt access to the site from a road called "Coppermine Rd" because it is a private road and no trespassing allowed.
**UPDATED Upper New Street Quarry, Paterson, NJ. - Superb variety of NJ Trap Rock minerals. This world famous site is open to collecting as of this update, but may still be at risk in the future if people continue to dump trash at the site. Most mineral collectors I know who frequent the site are very concerned with this, and carry out any trash they find and are careful not to leave any new trash. E-mail me for current site info.
** Montague Glacial Till Site - A small site that has a nice deposit of glacial till. I have found some pyrite nodules, quartz, cubic sphalerite and many colorful rocks for my rock garden at this site. There is a large variety of rounded stones laying about and many to be found simply by digging into the sandy hillsides. I have also found some crinoid and brachiopod fossils in some light gray sandstone outcroppings at the top of the pit. Rt. 23 to Clove Road (CountyRoute 653) in Montague. Take 653 south and make your first right onto Beach Drive. Make the 2nd left onto Lakeside Dr. Then make your 2nd right onto Curving Hill Dr. Drive 250 feet, just past the brown house on the right, you will see a white "No Dumping" sign. Park there. The glacial till pit is on your right.
**NEW SITE Otisville, NY Quartz Crystals - The Mount Hope Historical Society operates a historic homestead just outside of Otisville, NY. Several times per year, they host events at the site, and during those events, they allow attendees to collect quartz crystals, which are plentiful in the soils around the homestead. They even mention the crystals in the news stories about the events. However, collecting at the site outside of the events is questionable. I have tried numerous times to visit the homestead, but it always seems to be closed. It is best to attend an event and speak to the hosts regarding future collecting. Take Rt.209 north from Port Jervis or south from Rt.17 to the junction with Rt. NY 211. Follow Rt.211 to Otisville. Rt.211 will turn sharply left, then right in the town. Follow the curve to the left, but do not go right. Stay straight on Old Mountain Road. Drive about a mile and look for the Eleazer Harding House site on the left.
**NEW SITE Marshall's Creek, Pa. Road Cut Quartz , Calcite and Pyrite. A 2012 highway project on US 209, to bypass the small town of Marshall's Creek, Pa. has opened up a new road cut, exposing bright white quartz and calcite veins cutting through blue-gray sandstone. Some pyrite has been found as well, though I have not found any on my trips to the site. Parking is tough, but many nearby businesses have parking lots. The northern end of the new bypass has some mineral exposures, but the southern end, about 1/4 mile from the traffic circle, has the most interesting and productive mineralogy. Collecting is relatively easy. From I-80, Take Rt.209 north for about 2 miles. You will go through a small traffic circle. You are now on the new section of highway. Continue about 1/4 mile and start looking at the rock cuts on your right side. You will see more and more white veins as you travel north.
**NEW SITE East Stroudsburg, Pa. Quartz veins and crystal pockets - An exposure at a railroad rock cut behind a shopping center in East Stroudsburg contains numerous bright white veins and vugs containing quartz of various qualities and some pretty crystals in a dark black shale matrix. There is plenty of loose material around to pick from, or you can hack at the rock face. This site is next to an active rail line, and you can expect up to 4 freight trains per day at this site. From I-80, take East Stroudsburg exit. Follow the road down the hill toward the city. Turn right onto BUSINESS Rt.209 North. Drive about 1.5 miles, and turn right on Lincoln Ave.(WalMart). Drive to the end of lincoln Ave, behind WalMart, and the road bears sharply to the left and crosses the RR tracks. The exposures are on the right side adjascent to the tracks.
**NEW INFO Catskill, NY quartz crystals. Road cuts along Rt.23 in the towns of Catskill, Leeds, and Cairo have, for years, been providing rockhounds with very interesting minerology and an occasional fossil or two. These are massive rock cuts and collecting can be dicey, but a visit to these rock cuts can provide an interesting perspective into the area's geology. After winter, many specimens can be found laying in the rubble at the bottom of the cliffs. Be sure to park as far off the highway as possible. From the NY Thruway, Take Rt.23 West. Look along the highway on the right (north) side for these amazing outcrops. They run along the highway for several miles.
**NEW SITE Greenwood Lake Quartz Crystals and Calcites - Along the east side of Mount Peter, along Rt.17A, are exposures of quartz and calcite containing many vugs of crystals. However, this is a very busy road, and there is precious little room between you and the traffic. Parking is also an issue, but if you look hard, you can find spots to park. From the village of Greenwood Lake, Follow Rt. 17A west, climbing Mount Peter. Look at the rock faces on your left side as you go up hill.
**NEW SITE Yosts, NY Red Garnet in purple quartzite - In a scenic spot along the beautiful Mohawk River is an outcrop of some of the most interesting rock I have seen in upstate NY. Just west of the Hamlet of Yosts, and 3 miles east of Palatine Bridge, right along Rt. 5 is an outcrop of a very unusual conglomerate of a bright red garnet and purple quartzite that is easily collected and observed. It is on a small rock outcrop between Rt.5 and the CSX Railroad tracks along the Mohawk River. The site is right below a feature called "Big Nose". There is a big curve in Rt.5, and the outcrop is easily observed along the road. The best place to park is on the River side of Rt.5, at the end of the guard rail in the grass. Pieces of the outcrop can be easily broken off with a hammer, but there is plenty of small pieces laying about as well.
**NEW SITE Highland Landing, NY Pink pegmatites - Along the shore of the Hudson River, along the CSX railroad tracks, are big boulders of mica-rich pegmatites, imported from elsewhere, that were used to build the railroad thru the area. The reason I mention this location is because these boulders are a very interesting shade of red, and samples broken off bring some nice color to your collection. Also of note, you will be directly below the majestic Walkway over the Hudson State Park, which is an awesome sight to see. Take US Rt.9w to Highland, NY. Turn at the light where signs point to the Walkway over the Hudson Park(Havilland Road). Make the first left(Mile Hill Road) and follow that road all the way to the bottom of the hill. Turn right when you reach the river and park in the gravel lot 1/10 mile down the road. The boulders line the river bank. Watch for very large freight trains which run frequently along the line. Expect a train every half hour.
**Herkimer Diamond Sites, Herkimer & Montgomery County, NY - this area historically produces large quantities of water clear, doubly terminated quartz crystals called Herkimer Diamonds. There are 4 commercial pay-to-dig sites that are open to the public for collecting. Herkimer Diamond Mine, Ace of Diamonds, Diamond Acres, and Crystal Grove are easily found on the internet and provide collecting possibilities for a small fee. But there is another way to collect these beauties and have a little summer fun at the same time. You can sift the gravels in the bed of the West Canada Creek, which runs along Rt.28 between Herkimer and Middleville, south of the Herkimer Diamond Mine facility. The creek is shallow and wide, and the gravel banks and stream bed routinely produce Herkimer Diamonds with relative ease. All you need is a sifting screen and a scooper, and something to sit on, and a warm day, and you will surely find some beauties right in the stream! There is plenty of parking available all along the creek.
BOOKS ON COLLECTING!!
In 1996, a book was published called "Gem Trails of Pa/NJ". I purchased this book in 2003 under the high hopes that it would lead me to vast mineral deposits that I could collect from at my leisure. What I have found, through my own investigations, field trips, and through word of mouth, was that of the 47 sites listed, most of them are no longer viable collecting sites. Information listed is quite outdated, especially maps and ownership info. Through property owner issues, land sales, and over-collecting issues, many have been shut down, while others have severe restrictions in place. I will list the sites listed in the book, and state the current status of collecting and I give each site a "grade" for the quality of collecting (A-, B+, etc. Closed sites get an automatic F). I am not bashing the book or its authors, but I highly recommend reviewing this list before venturing out!!
1. Shelcota- Open (B)
2. New Paris - Quarry closed.(F)
3. New Enterprise - Open but dangerous (D)
4. Roaring Spring - Open but very dangerous (D-)
5. Grazierville - Site closed(F)
6. California - Status currently unknown(?)
7. Huntingdon - Open (C)
8. Mapleton - Open(C+)
9. Ickesburg - Open(C-)
10. New Bloomfield - Open(B)
11. Mt. Hope - Status Unknown(?)
12. Mt. Holly - Site Closed(F)
13. Rossville - Open(B-)
14. Kinzua - Open(A-)
15. Highland - Site closed(F)
16. Lock Haven - Open(B-)
17. Jersey Shore - Site closed(F)
18. Antes Creek - Open(C)
19. Ralston - Open (B-)
20. Williamsport - Site Closed(F)
21. Crystal Point - Mine shut down by PaDEP in 2008(F)
22. Montour - Open(A-)
23. Eastern Industries - Quarry closed and off limits(F)
24. Carbondale - Open, but much of described has been reclaimed(A)
25. Deer Lake - Open(A-)
26. Morgantown - Site closed - Reclaimed(F)
27. Vera Cruz - Open but landowner gets upset if too many collectors in stream.(C)
28. Hellertown - Open(B)
29. Easton - Open(A)
30. Ringing Rocks - Open(D)
31. Wissahickon - Park heavily patrolled. Collecting not recommended. Passive collecting at best.(C)
32. Phoenixville - Dump pile is still collectable, and good specimens can still be found.(A)
33. Chrome Run - Closed. Site fenced off(F)
34. Prospect Park, Pa. - Open(C)
New Jersey Sites......
35. Lime Crest - Closed. Quarry sold. No access.(F)
36. Sterling Hill - Open(A+)
37. Buckwheat - Open(A)
38. Lake Valhalla - Open, but access from described directions is no longer possible. Must hike in from marked trails.(C)
39. Basalt Quarry - Must contact University Security. Unknown if collecting is still permitted(?)
40. Schuyler - Sites closed(F)
41. Stirling Brook - Open(C)
42. Cliffwood Beach - Open(C+)
43. Poricy Park - Open, but with severe limits on collecting(D+)
44. Big Brook - Open, but with a 16" maximum size on sifting screens(A+)
45. Pine Barrens - Status unknown(?)
46. Salem - Site closed. Off limits for 9-11 security reasons(F)
47. Cape May - Open(B+)
Then in Jan. 2013, a new book has been published, called "Rockhounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey" by Robert Beard. This is an updated version of the Gem Trails book, with most of the previous sites listed, plus several more added in. I have read the book and found most of the information contained within to be relatively accurate. One thing I did notice in the book is that a majority of the sites he lists are for rock viewing, not collecting. A majority of the sites listed in the book do not allow collecting. Very good reading, though.
In May, 2013, yet another book was published called "Roadside Geology of New Jersey" by David P. Harper. This book contains just what the title says. Roadside Geology. It points out very interesting geological features along New Jersey's roads. But, If you are looking for collecting information, this book is not for you.
In October 2013, a new book was published, the Collector's Guide to the Minerals of New York State, by Chamberlain and Robinson, dealing with long forgotten and often undiscussed mineral collecting sites throughout New York. This book is very interesting and made me aware of many mineralogical exposures in the state that I had never heard of or seen before. Since the last book about collecting sites in New York was published over 35 years ago, it was refreshing to see this publication, which was well overdue. A very interesting read.
In February, 2014, a second book in the Falcon Rockhounding series was published by the same author, Mr. Robert Beard. This book covers the rockhounding possibilities throughout New York State. This website and your webmaster are acknowledged in this book! This book is identical to the Pa-NJ book in style and content, but covers even more sites. New York is another treasure trove for mineral and fossil collectors, and the author does a fine job covering the Empire State!!! Another great read!!
If you find that any of this information has become inaccurate, please contact me!!