Established in the 1800s as an isolated mining and logging settlement, the small town’s whimsical name, “Doodletown,” is actually derived from the much grimmer Dutch term for, “dead valley.” It’s applicable: while the valley’s nature is thriving, the town itself, is no more.
The community grew as a crossroads for soldiers in the Revolutionary War, and reached its populace height in the 1920s with around 70 homes, a school, and several small businesses. It was during this time that the park commission which owned the surrounding land began purchasing up all available plots in Doodletown, in the hopes that the entire area could be turned into parkland.
By 1965, anyone living in the town who had not already sold their land had it taken from them under eminent domain. Once the park owned all of the land, the remaining houses were demolished and scenic trails were forged.
Hikers on the official Doodletown trail in Bear Mountain State Park can still see the remnants of the town here and there in the form of crumbled staircases and outlines of former homes.
Know Before You Go
Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to its terminus at the Bear Mountain Circle. Continue south on Route 9W for 1.3 miles to a small hikers trailhead parking area on the left side of the road, just past a concrete bridge over a stream. From the parking area, walk back across the bridge. On the left (west) side of the road, is the small, unmarked trail leading into Doodletown. It is across from a sign for the Iona Island Bird Preserve. The only sign for Doodletown is visible once you're already in the woods on the trail. There is a sign notifying visitors that the area is a timber rattlesnake habitat.