New Jersey is home to some of the most idyllic places for hiking and biking on the East Coast, and while it may not have Denali-style skyscrapers, it has dozens of peaks including the altitude exceeds 300 meters. And all of these mountains are right in the north of Jersey.
From an aptly named summit where three states can be seen from one location, to a summit with some of the best sunrises, the state’s most powerful peaks are all within easy reach. While most are heavily trafficked trails that lead to scenic lookout points, some aren’t leisurely walks in the woods (thorns and dense vegetation included), so be careful before stepping outside for that next one. adventure.
Most of the peaks are located in the Kittatinny Mountains and the Highlands, with Sussex, Passaic and Warren counties home to the most. Morris and Bergen counties were also on the list with several peaks above 1,000 feet.
The New Jersey 1K Club has counted 52 peaks in the state that exceed the 1,000-foot mark. The 1K Club is made up of a like-minded group of people whose goal is to climb the highest mountains in the state, while exploring lesser-known areas of the state. Although they only mention 52 peaks, some key New Jersey peaks, including the fantastic Blue, Bird, and Rattlesnake Mountains at Walpack, are missing from the list. The number could be closer to 60 or more, according to peakbagger.com, an online resource for summit-oriented hikers.
And yes, “peak bagger” is a real term for those who take up the challenge of climbing all the peaks at a certain altitude in a certain geographical area: Peak baggers. The 46’ers are cutting edge baggers who have climbed the 46 peaks of New York’s Adirondack Mountains and the Catskill 3,500 Club climbs the highest peaks of the Catskills while New Hampshire owns the Appalachian Mountain Club Four Thousand Footer Club. , formed for those looking to explore the White Mountains of the state.
For a taste of what New Jersey has to offer, here are the 10 tallest mountains to explore and how to get there:
- The highest point in Morris County, marked with a large red sign, is located in the Mahlon Dickerson Preserve and is accessible via a trail off Weldon Road in Jefferson. At 1,350 feet it didn’t quite make the top 10, but still worth exploring. There are several trails that connect, but the simpler trail is accessed through the Saffin Pond parking lot, according to AllTrails, a popular fitness and travel mobile app used in outdoor recreational activities.
- Boulder Pine Peak in West Milford in Passaic County rises to 1,420 feet and has an unmarked but maintained path to the top. It is accessible from parking lot P7 on Clinton Road near Bearfort Waters (note: parking may require a parking permit). Once there hikers can follow the Old Coal Trail and take a right onto Split Rock Trail to climb to the top. Fun Fact: The trail is dotted with unusual cairns, which are man-made piles or mounds of rock.
- Bearfort Mountain North, also in West Milford, reaches 1,460 feet above sea level. Part of an almost unbroken ridge known as the New York / New Jersey Green Pond Outlier, the area offers stunning views to the east, including a view of New York City through a gap in the mountains, according to the New Jersey 1K Club. One hiker says the highest point is actually somewhere in the middle of the woods and doesn’t offer the best view. At over 1,300 feet on the Earnest Walker Trail, hikers can stop and take in the views from the ridge line of the Ramapo Mountains, the Wyanoke Plateau, and the Sterling Forest in New York City.
Mount Wawayanda (Vernon, Sussex County) – 1,460 feet
This tied for eighth place in the state is a plateau at the eastern end of the Vernon Valley. Most famous for the “Stairway to Heaven” trail, a well-traveled boardwalk in Vernon, the current top of the mountain is trail-less but can be reached by jumping the Appalachian Trail and all the way to Pinwheel Vista.
Bearfort Mountain (West Milford, County Passaic) – 1,480 feet
The highest point in Passaic County offers a magnificent view of the Terrace Pond. Hikers say to park in parking lot P7 and walk up Terrace Pond North trail to the top. Take advantage of the “floating” ladder and walkway!
Hamburg Mountain (Hamburg, Sussex County) – 1,495 feet
Hikers say to take Route 23 south to Hamburg and turn onto Route 517 / Rudetown Road, and once there turn onto Sand Pond Road where there is a stop for the hike. It’s mostly off-piste, but several hikers have mastered it. While it doesn’t offer a pristine view of much, there is a cairn that marks the highlight.
Rattlesnake (1,497 feet) and Bird (1,492 feet) mountains (Walpack, Sussex County)
Combined with Blue Mountain, with an elevation of 1,450 feet, these three peaks are located along the Kittatinny Ridge near the New Jersey border at Walpack. Hikers say Rattlesnake Mountain offers panoramic views from the top.
The most rewarding trail with open meadows and views is along the Appalachian Trail, but there are several access points on Brinks Road in Stokes State Forest, from Buttermilk Falls and Culvers Gap.
Pro tip: Hikers say the 11 mile hike through the Trio of Mountains is one of the most difficult along the New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail with very rocky and jagged terrain. Be ready !
Mount Tammany (Hardwick, County Warren) – 1,549 feet
It may just be the fifth tallest mountain in the state, but Mount Tammany is arguably one of the most popular and the views from the top are epic. Two trails lead to the top, where they both meet at a spot overlooking the Delaware River. The Red Trail, although shorter (1.5 miles), is by far the steeper of the two. The blue trail is longer (2.5 miles) but often preferred for its less severe inclines.
Pro tip: The Dunnfield Creek parking lot off I-80 West can fill up until 9 a.m. on weekends, so get there early.
Catfish Mountain (Hardwick, County Warren) – 1,560 feet
You’ll want to park on Millbrook Road, if you can go past the metal gate and hop onto the Appalachian Trail. It is moderately difficult but the views are worth it: on a clear day hikers can see the Catskill Mountains to the north and the Poconos to the west. At the top is the Catfish Tower, which rises 60 feet into the air. In late winter, early spring, and again in fall, the tower staff is made up of fire wardens who monitor forest fires.
Fun fact:Catfish Tower will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year as the oldest tower in the Forest Fire Department still in service.
Mount Mohican (Blairstown, County Warren) – 1,580 feet
Informally known as Raccoon Ridge, the mountain is the tallest in Warren County and is part of the Kittatinny Mountains. It sits along the Appalachian Trail in Worthington State Forest and is located between Mt Tammany and Mt Catfish. Check it out if you want a moderate to strenuous hike that takes about 6 miles round trip.
Fun fact: The ridge is a prime location for catching migrating hawks that cross it on their journey south between August and early December.
Mount Paradise (Walpack, Sussex County) – 1,606 feet
Located between the Catfish and Rattlesnake Mountains, the summit can be reached by taking the steps of the Buttermilk Falls Trail, crossing the bridge to the top of the falls, and then taking the steep climb. The summit is located near a radio communications tower, and while the views aren’t spectacular, a trip to Buttermilk Falls, New Jersey’s tallest waterfall, is always a treat.
Sunrise Mountain (Montague, Sussex County) – 1,653 feet
Named for the gorgeous sunrises seen from the east-facing lookout, Sunrise Mountain should be on every hiker’s list.
From the trailhead on Deckertown Turnpike, you will traverse hilly terrain comfortably along the Appalachian Trail through deciduous forest before traversing steeper, rockier terrain leading to the 1,653-foot summit.
Pro tip: The autumn months offer a beautiful view of the changing leaves over the Kittatinny Valley.
High Point (Wantage, Sussex County) – 1,803 feet
The highest peak in the state belongs to the aptly named High Point, the summit of Kittatinny Ridge located in High Point State Park in Wantage. The spot offers a panoramic view of the Poconos in Pennsylvania, the Catskills in New York and the Kittatinny Mountains in New Jersey. During the weekends and holidays between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, the 220-foot veterans monument is open to those who wish to climb the 291 steps to the summit.
Want to go? There are several ways to get to the highest point in the state, including options to park at the Lake Marcia Beach parking lot inside the park, hike the 3.5 mile Monument Trail loop, or drive and walk a short distance to the monument.
Lori Comstock can be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.