Stop # 13: Lemon Squeeze

The Rocks reveal an ancient story

You’re about to make your way through a fairly tight passage, so suck it in. You may even have to walk sideways and carry your daypack to get through what is affectionately called the “Lemon Squeeze.”

Onteora Scout Reservation lies withing the Catskill Mountain Range, which formed in the Devonian Period, over 400 million years ago! At this point in geologic history, North America was attached to present day Greenland, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia before tectonic forces separated them to where they are today. The Catskills are predominantly made up of sandstone and shale, sedimentary rocks formed by little particles getting compacted tightly together.

Four hundred million years is a long time, and in that time, the Catskill Mountains witnessed a large amount of erosion. Constant running waters and the movement of large glaciers dragging across the mountaintops led to the mountain range wearing down over time. This turned the Catskill Mountains into more of a worn-down hilly plateau.

The little sediment particles that made up the rock of the mountains broke away and started to form soil in the area. This soil, known as glacial till, was quite shallow and rather acidic. While acidic soil sounds bad, it provided the perfect conditions for Beech and Maple trees, the two most dominant trees in the region. Because of the relatively shallow soil, there are many areas within the Catskills where you can see bedrock formations. These formations are much more resistant to erosion and can appear almost skeletal in appearance as you see gaps of where eroded rock was millions of years ago.

DIRECTIONS: Continue on the Red Trail