Hikes in the New Jersey Skylands

Look out from Appalchian Trail

Whether you're exploring mountains high or misty wetlands, there is hardly an inch of space in New Jersey that has not been under human management for some economic use. A large part of northwest New Jersey’s forests weren’t even here 100 years ago, when the hills were stripped bare for fuel to run furnaces or for room to plant crops and feed dairy cows. With the exception of Hutcheson Memorial Forest, a 65-acre tract of old growth forest in Somerset County, our woods tell largely human stories.

You'll share terrain fit for black bear, bobcats, eagles, but even the most pristine tracts in Stokes, High Point or Waywayanda are filled with invasive species, foundations, holes and ditches of unknown origin, fences, and rock walls. In fact, that is what makes our woods special. An old railroad spike or a barely recognizable tie, a piece of barbed wire, a rotten fence post, an old insulator or bottle… these are treasures for many searching for a pieces of New Jersey history and heritage. While you enjoy a wide range natural phenomena - watchable wildlife, bird species, wild flowers, whatever – don’t miss the rest of the story. High or low, far and wide, wild or wooly you'll find a hike your sure to like.

Allamuchy State Park

Together, Allamuchy Mountain and Stephens State Parks comprise 9,200 acres of park lands in Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties.

Appalachian Trail

Now, my own soon-to-be adventure on the Jersey AT demanded to be done. I told them my hiker buddy and I, both women in our 50s, aren't hikers, never camped out nor tossed food over tree branches to keep it away from hungry, wild animals.

Appalachian Trail Short Hikes

With a little planning and a map or two, the New Jersey section can be conquered one day at a time in seven modest day-hikes.

Autumn Meadow Walks

A walk in an autumn meadow -- make it simple and bring just your senses. Look at the vibrant golden and purple wildflowers and luminous oranges of butterflies like the Buckeye and Monarch. Smell crisp and pungent aromas of Mountain Mint and Wild Bergamot seed heads. Listen to the song of our state bird, the Gold Finch. Or bring some gear like a camera and binoculars, perhaps a magnifying glass or loupe to bring your findings into close focus. Whatever your approach, make sure to take a slow ramble this fall.

Bald Pate Mountain, Washington's Crossing, Howell Farm

Just a few miles south of Lambertville lies an area ripe for weekend adventure and exploration. Components of local, national, and natural history are well represented, as well as brilliant prospects for craft seekers, hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and picnickers.

Big Skylands Country

Warren County's Scott's Mountain, so named since at least 1885, is known locally as Montana Mountain, named for the small hamlet that sits on its scenic plateau. Nearby Merrill Creek Reservoir, with its vast open waters and network of wooded trails, is deserving of any excursion up the mountain. The trip back down into and through the Pohatcong Valley is equally rewarding for students of history and devotees of the outdoors, especially in autumn when you might even spot flying pumpkins.

Blair Creek Preserve

Under the shade of oak, hickory, maple and beech, a rutted, over-grown driveway leads to a little cabin by a lake deep in the woods in Stillwater.

Botanical Spell Along Patriot's Path

Plan to spend a day on this easy path from garden to garden. Get to know the richness and pleasures of their natural and cultivated diversity.

Branchville Country

On the way North through Sussex County on Rt. 206, there's a tiny, old-time borough called Branchville. Just one-half square mile large, it is packed with history, old buildings, new business and interesting people, and where contemporary meets traditional. Surrounded by mountains and glacial lakes, farms, wineries, campgrounds, state parks and forests,

Centered on Rediscovery

Ridge and Valley Conservancy is a non- profit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect natural areas within the Appalachian Valley and Ridge.

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park

Today the canal's route provides a 67 mile corridor of recreation and wildlife that invites your pleasure by foot, bike or canoe.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

After years of struggle, controversy and benign neglect, ways to offer interpretive looks at the rich history of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are finally becoming reality.

Delaware Water Gap Trails

The famous notch that characterizes Warren County's western skyline is where the Kittatinny Mountains have given way to eons of gentle persuasion by the Delaware River, creating one of the most majestic of New Jersey's natural features between Mount Tammany and Mount Minsi in Pennsylvania.

Denville Detour: Jonathan's Woods and More!

Even today, if you needed a natural hideout--a really good one--Jonathan's Woods could work. This six hundred plus acre pocket of undeveloped property, lies not far from one of Morris County's busiest highways: Interstate Route 80. And yet the tract offers unexpected isolation. You could, as they say, get lost here.

Forest Flowers of Musconetcong Gorge

Broadly speaking, the most diverse forest ecosystems are ones with the fewest human interventions dating from modern times. Untouched land in New Jersey is rare if not non-existent. Musconetcong Gorge Reservation has a special mix of natural and human history that makes it a rewarding botanical site in the late spring months of May and June.


Tech-savvy outdoors enthusiasts have found a new way to spice up their never-ending quests for adventure.

Guiding Lite

New to New Jersey and want to find out what it's all about? Lived here forever and want to find out more? Don't do it yourself, a guide can do it better!

Hacklebarney State Park

Hacklebarney State Park is 892 acres of glacial valley, with gorges carved by the Black River and two tributaries that feed it, the Rinehart and Trout Brooks. There are over 5 miles of trails.

Hard Facts and Solid Stories

Nearly everywhere you look there are rocks; big ones, little ones, sometimes fields of them. Curious explorers cannot help but wonder why some have drawn enough attention in days gone by to have been given names of their own.

High and Mighty

From the top of Mount Tammany the trees lining the Delaware River have shrunk to resemble props for a toy train set. Intent on finding the next hand and foot-hold in the metaquartzite cliffs along the Kittattiny Ridge, climbers work their way skywards. They don't look down.

High Point State Park

I found my thrill walking the Monument Trail in High Point State Park recently. The path along the forested mountain top at the top of New Jersey at 1,800 feet offered me palettes of color and texture that only the shallow-soil ridges of High Point can. Golden vistas of New York, Pennsylvania and Sussex County await the woodland explorer seeking gorgeous views and an enchanting w

Highlands Trail

When complete, the trail will link the full distance of the Highlands from end to end, a 150 mile footpath network for the more than 1.1 million acres of this distinct physiographic province.

Highlands Trailblazing

New routes on the Highlands Trail

Hiking Groups

Organized group hikes carry a certain appeal for those looking for new challenges or guidance getting started.

Hunterdon County Hikes

Although it may not match the drama of the Delaware Water Gap or the legend of the Appalachian Trail, Hunterdon County has plenty of diversity to offer hikers wishing to explore the unspoiled areas of the Skylands Region.

Hunterdon County Rail Trails

When I first began leading long distance day hikes, I sought out routes along abandoned railroads beginning in northern Hunterdon County. While Hunterdon's system of rails was not as intricate as farther north, where mining was more prevalent, the county was home to many spur lines used to transport passengers and products to charming villages and hamlets.

Ice Hiking

One doesn't usually think of New Jersey's Kittatinny Mountains in the same breath as glaciers and icy slopes of higher mountains. Some years this changes in January and February when ice climbing routes come "into condition" on Mount Tammany and on many waterfalls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Jenny Jump State Forest

Jenny Jump State Forest stretches between the four Warren County Townships of Frelinghuysen, Hope, Liberty, and Independence some 12 miles southeast of the Delaware Water Gap

Karamac Kandy

A former railbed just north of the Delaware Water Gap provides another short but satisfying taste of days past in a beautiful setting.

Kittatinny State Park

It is, except for the completion of a few bridges, now possible to hike a continuous distance of nearly 50 miles on public trails through Sussex and Warren counties on the Paulinskill Valley Trail.

Marble Mountain

Trails along the Delaware River lead to the Ice Cave” and a vista overlooking the narrows north of Phillipsburg and Easton.

Merrill Creek Recreation Area

Visitors have the chance to help in environmental studies by merely carrying a turtle or lending a fish on the end of your hook.

Million Dollar Highway

All along the Water Gap’s historic Kittatinny Park in Pennsylvania.

Mohican Outdoor Center

Mohican provides a base of operations for a wide range of trail work projects carried out by AMC in cooperation with the National Park Service.


Natirar offers hiking, horses and fishing outdoors, events, exhibitions and concerts, a museum and interpretive center.

New Jersey High Country

From impressive rock walls to the scattered glaciated boulders that dot the landscape, there's a little something for everyone out here, whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned wall rat.

North of the Tension Line

Bag all the West Milford peaks and give them something to talk about!

On the Banks of the Wild Six

When the Jersey sky hangs white in summer haze, head to the woods at Six Mile Run in Franklin Township, Somerset County.

Paradise Lost, and Found at Blue Mountain Lakes

The pristine aura at Blue Mountain Lake yields scant evidence of the ambitious development for which it was created. Ironically, the land on which the community was built is still, to this day, a wilderness escape.

Path to Discovery

Strolling along the Paulinskill Valley Trail is a fine way to spend a summer day. With access points and parking spaces in many places along this 27-mile soft dirt-cinder path, you can stroll at leisure or pick up the pace as you wish.

Paths of Green, Fields of Gold

A visit to Fairview Farm, headquarters for the Raritan Headwater Association, is captivating. There are six miles of trails, a pond, butterfly garden and restored 1800’s era barn complex.

Pequest Pilgrims

Immerse yourself in the season's beauty, the region's heritage, and a spectrum of natural features along this forty-mile loop that parallels the Pequest River through its upper reaches,

Pochuck Valley

The trail is skinny and unobtrusive with scattered benches good for watching hawks and herons.

Pyramid Power

The story of one of the Northwestern New Jersey’s largest and more improbable natural treasures, a fist shaped swath of land designated in 1987 as the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, nearly 1,500 acres of wooded terrain dotted with brooks, swamps, glacial deposits, rock outcroppings glens and vistas.

Rail Trails

Since my grandfather first took me hiking on the old DL&W line through Warren County, I have had an affinity for exploring the paths left along these rights of way,

Rock A Bye Rail Trail

The Rockaway Valley Railroad was about 25 miles long and lasted for about 25 years.

Round Valley Recreation Area

My family and I have enjoyed many hours boating on the reservoir and exploring the terrain.

Sourland Mountain Preserve

Legstretchers in New Jersey's Sourlands Mountain Preserve.

Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area

The Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lies in Sussex County off Route 517 and Glen Road near the Town of Sparta, and along the Highlands Trail.

Steep Devotion

Whatever your plans in the great outdoors, make hiking in the Delaware Water Gap part of your adventure. The Gap offers trails for all hikers from novice to expert. Come with a sense of wonder, a willingness to explore, and you may find a trail blazed just for you.

Stokes State Forest

On the north side of Branchville near the top of New Jersey is a 15,482-acre playground known as Stokes State Forest.

Stokes State Forest Family Hikes

The Forest does have its own charm and quiet presence that you and your family won't want to miss.

The Hills Are Alive

The Hill and Dale Preserve in Tewksbury is the most recent purchase of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF), an organization dedicated to saving and protecting New Jersey's important lands and natural resources for all to enjoy.

Trails, Tracks and Taverns

Old roads and new trails in and around Hunterdon County’s Jugtown Mountain offer scenic options for fall explorers as they wander through historic districts, old hamlets, wooded roads, environmental preserves and county parks. The more you look, the more you see!

Tripod Rocks

Begetter of mystery, artifact of glacial motion or signpost of American Indians?

Union Forge and the Taylor Steelworkers Greenway in High Bridge

The Hunterdon County Borough of High Bridge would on its face appear little different than any of the other many municipalities in New Jersey. However, the sign which welcomes those who pass through this sleepy little town with the words "Settled in 1700", implies a long abiding heritage: a story of the workers who helped shape the history and destiny of the United States.

Warren County Hkes

Hiking may be Warren County's favorite sport. Certainly the county offers the largest variety of hikes in New Jersey, including a panorama of magnificent vistas, intriguing history, and abundant wildlife.

Warren County Natural Resource Areas

Though not well-known, these places provide pristine destinations for family jaunts, hikes full of historical fabric, even the excitement of cave exploration.

Waterfall Hunting

There are waterfalls scattered throughout the Skylands region, but nowhere so plentiful than in the Kittatinny Mountains, where streams find their way down steep slopes to the Delaware River.

Wawayanda State Park

As wild as its name, the land of "winding, winding water" is home to Indian shelters and some of the best bear dens in NJ, a lake to swim and boat on, great gobs of pudding stone to climb, rock to scramble, ledges for leaping, primeval forest, 20 miles of Appalachian Trail and so much more

Wet and Wild

Newfoundland, West Milford offer preserved deep forests, brooks, ponds and unspoiled landscapes throughout the Pequannock Watershed.

Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area

Tucked between Rockaway Township's town of Hibernia and Split Rock Reservoir lies a large portion of Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area, one of New Jersey's many multi-use WMAs

Wildflower Hunting at Jenny Jump

Native perennial wildflowers bloom briefly, anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the species. That means a regular visit to particularly robust nature preserves can reveal different wildflowers blooming each time. Jenny Jump State Forest has a magical variation in elevation and terrain that makes it a rewarding site for spring forest flowers.

Wildlife Management Area Hikes

Discover over 305,000 acres of little known forests, meadows, streams, and lakes collectively called Wildlife Management Areas - all public property, all owned by the people of New Jersey.

Winter Hikes

The Winter season has its own wonders that merit braving the cold. In fact there are intrepid hikers that don't take to the trails until the branches are bare, in search of vistas from ice formations to sun glistening on a freshly fallen snow.

Worthington State Forest

Few of the hikers, campers, canoeists, and nature lovers that visit Worthington realize that industrial pumps are responsible for the preserved wilderness and natural wonders that they enjoy there. Charles C. Worthington, a prominent and very wealthy New York socialite, sportsman, fisherman, and skilled rifleman, assembled this park in the late nineteenth century. He called it Buckwood Park.

Worthington State Forest

Situated along the river, within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Worthington State Forest comprises almost 6,000 acres extending about seven miles along the Kittatinny Ridge.

This story was first published: Spring, 2024
Stay in the Loop!

Get our newsletter, This Week in the NJ Skylands, with updates, special offers and good ideas!

Read current newsletter

Privacy Statement