Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Turtle Rock in Warwick

A while ago, I saw a reference somewhere (I don't ever remember where now) to a stone turtle "effigy" in Warwick, Orange County, NY.  A little Googling led me to a Facebook page called Mysterious Hudson Valley Stone Sites with some more information.  The implication is that this was artificially carved or shaped.

Having an interest in both geology and local Native American culture, I decided to check it out a couple of weeks ago.  It was relatively easy to find (see below) but not something a casual stroll would necessarily stumble across.

Behold Turtle Rock.

See it?  The protrusion on the left is the head.  Here's a closer view.

Here's a view from the front.

After looking at the rock, I don't believe this was made by Native Americans but actually by good old Mother Nature.  Let's look closer at the "head".

If it was artificially-shaped, it's not very well done and pretty asymmetrical.  The head is clearly defined by several natural fractures in the rock.  See the crack on the right.  The top and left side of the head also follow fractures running through the rock.  There are no obvious tool marks either.

Looking under the "head".

See how the rock is spalling off?  This is a common form of weathering called exfoliation.  Perfectly natural resulting in rounded edges.

Looking at Turtle Rock from the rear.

It looks like any other flat slab of rock.  There are no markings on the top of the rock to delineate a possible shell (which I would expect if it was a carved turtle effigy).  And, looking around, one sees many similar rocks strewn about this hillside.

Pieces of weathered out bedrock and glacial erratics.  Nothing special and seen throughout the woodlands of the Hudson Valley.

Now I can't rule out that this rock wasn't seen as a naturally-formed turtle effigy by the Lenape people who once roamed these woods, but there's no evidence I've found to support that.  To this geologist, it simply appears to be a rock that coincidentally looks a bit like a turtle.  Kind of cool but nothing overly unusual.

If you'd like to visit yourself, here are the directions:

About a mile east of Warwick, on State Route 17A, is Warwick County Park.  Follow the park road to the back parking lot next to the baseball field.  There are two ways to go from here.  The easiest, but slightly longer way is to walk back down the road, down the hill, to where it splits.  On your right will be a trail that leads up the hill.  Follow it uphill and it will soon make a hairpin switchback.  A short distance later is the top of a hill.  Look to the left off the path for the turtle.  A slightly shorter, but perhaps harder to find way is to start at the same parking lot but walk between the baseball field and the tree line on the left past a couple of fields until you find a path into the woods on your left (in immediately goes down and up across a ditch-like drainage).  Bear left to follow the path to the above-mentioned switchback and then up the hill.

From the Google Maps satellite view of the park, you can see the parking lot (P) at the end of the road by the baseball field.  The blue line is the longer path and the red is the shorter path (approximated, of course).  The green arrow is the approximate location of the feature.  I'd guess barely 1/4 mile each way on the blue path.

The GPS coordinates given on the Facebook page mentioned above worked pretty well for me: 41.239157, -74.328471 (that's 41 degrees, 14 minutes, and 20.9 seconds north, 74 degrees, 19 minutes, 42.5 seconds west). The feature is only about 75 feet off the trail at the top of the knoll and obvious.


  1. Steve, another interesting article & pictures. Thank you! You said, in general you noticed nuthing out of the ordinary, I believe in reference to the Turtle rock. I recently watched a video blog, Track Rock Gap Georgia, short clip.

    Trac Rock Gap sight location was strikingly similar to you photo's. The narrator/filmer, was pointing out neolithic stone age formations not obvious to the casual observer, but certainly I saw similar structurs in your blog photos. Soo, I obviously have way to much time on my hands.....check it out if you have a moment, not sure if archeologists & geologist are mutually exclusive...but an interesting tie in.

  2. I was just saying to an archaeologist friend, "We will just have to peck and polish up one and come back in 500 years and see how the weathering has affected our sculpture." And as I was just saying to a skeptical archaeologist who won't be friends: "If it looks like a duck..."