Rides We Like: Ringing Rocks County Park
(2016) When I was a hockey goalie there were two sounds a goalpost made when struck with a puck. The first sound was gut wrenching. The center post made it, and it produced a deep hollow sound as, “Thunk.” The second sound was a little more welcoming. It produced the most echoing, “Ping” and would occasionally resonate throughout the rink.
The first sound was brutal. Often people asked why goalies didn’t turn around to see if it went in the net. When the puck struck the center post, there was no need to turn around. The sound told the story. If it was an away game, the crowd solidified the fact. Even on television the sound can bring back memories of bad goals.
The second sound, resembling the sound of metal bouncing on concrete, had the possibility to produce a positive outcome. The pinging sound meant the puck hit the post square and deflected in any direction other than into the net (most of the time). Often times goalies would look back to see which direction the puck had flown. Most of the time there was a satisfaction that, despite being beaten, the net took over for one shot of the game. What usually followed these intense pings was the sound of a crowd mumbling over how close it was to a goal.
It was that sound that sent me back over the same roads for the second time in one week. I was recently interested in revisiting roads I thought were nearly too far a decade ago when living farther south. I had forgotten how immensely enjoyable this area is for riding. One of the experiences of cycling these roads was passing the curiously named Ringing Rocks County Park. It lives up to its name.
To get there I took some regularly traveled roads: Clay Ridge, Beaver Run, Rock Ridge. It put me in the northern areas of the County. It also put me in an ethereal region with one notable aspect. Anywhere one looks, there are large rocks and boulders embedded in the countryside. It’s where the glaciers stopped in one of the last ice ages. Housing lots simply build around the boulders.
I took Lonely Cottage Road that is home to a couple campsites. One campsite has quite the water park as well as a fishing hole. This could be a simple way to get into these remote areas. I linked with Lake Warren Road. The lake itself is at the other end, so I never saw it.
Center Hill Road has become one of my favorites in the area. It is strangely blacktopped and extremely smooth for a road so rural. It’s rolling with some tree cover and some meadows off of it. It also starts plunging to the Delaware River but not before the route turns onto Ringing Rocks Road.
From this direction a large granite boulder on the right side of the road can signify Ringing Rocks County Park early. It’s large enough that the municipality didn’t bother to move it when putting the road in. It simply put a reflector to mark the boundary of safe passage. Without it, a rock-inspired striped may appear down the side of a many cars. The parking lot to access the oddity presents itself shortly down the road on the left, marked with a county sign.
The oddity in this park is a boulder field at the end of a short path. That may not be enough for people to want to stop, but if one brings a hammer, the experience becomes more enjoyable. These rocks sing. Hit them lightly with a hammer and they ping just like a goal post in a hockey rink. Some will clunk as if the puck went past the goalie. Those aren’t sought after. There are hundreds of rocks, put there by the last ice age after being created by some ancient volcano. If one is feeling extra adventurous, or it has been an especially wet spell, a continued hike to the back of the park reveals a shale waterfall. It is impressive in stature resembling a sort of amphitheater.
Though I didn’t stop at the park save to photograph its sign, I do explore it from time to time. It’s only necessary when such a feature is in one's backyard.
Today I carried on down Bridgeton Hill Road, fought the urge to plunge onto the porch of Homestead General Store for some coffee, but instead took another enjoyable downhill ride. Chestnut Ridge Road is a smooth affair with a couple of technical turns to keep the drama up. It changes names at some point to Upper Tinicum Church Road. I’ve written about its offerings before.
I’ve wanted to return to these roads because they are like old friends. Once I visited them I felt welcomed and eased. It had been a long time since I had been over these pavings, yet the experiences didn’t disappoint. I also wanted to ride past the park to write about it. I doubt I'll ever rely on the old goal post friends again, so this will be my link to those bygone days. It’s a place everyone should visit should they be in the area. Considering it’s been there since the last ice age, I think there’s plenty of time to plan a trip.