When thinking about New Jersey, you might think of its rich history, the sandy beaches, or maybe just their busy roads. But hidden behind the preconceptions of this stunning, beautiful state are thousands of square miles of incredible hiking opportunities.
Unbeknownst to most, the Appalachian Trail runs across the entire length of New Jersey, lending hikers access to flowing rivers, towering mountains, and lush green meadows that help New Jersey maintain its status of being, "The Garden State". Here is a guide to 15 of New Jersey’s best and most unique hiking trails across the state.
Time To Plan Your Next New Jersey Hike.
1. Mount Tammany Trail
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The trailhead is located on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey along the Delaware River. To get there, from the nearest town of Stroudsburg, PA, drive east on I-80 E for 11.9 Miles in Hardwick Township. Take the exit towards Dunnfield Creek and the trailhead will be on the right.
The Mount Tammany Trail is arguably the most popular in all of New Jersey. With the tranquil Dunnfield Creek leading you to the beautiful overlooks of Mount Tammany, this hike has a little bit of everything, but is not for the faint of heart.
Early on, as you make your way through the dense and shaded forest, a steady incline increases into a laborious grind. As you approach the summit, the trail transforms into a series of knee-buckling rock scrambles that open to the stunningly panoramic views from the peak of Mount Tammany.
Difficulty: StrenuousDistance: 3.5 MilesElevation Gain: 1,122 Feet
2. Burnt Meadow Loop
From West Milford, drive east on Marshall Hill Rd for 2.5 Miles and turn right on Burnt Meadow Road. Head south on Burnt Meadow for a short while until you find an unmarked turnout where the trail begins.
Deep within Long Pond Ironworks State Park, the Burnt Meadow Loop Trail is a wonderfully secluded hike that traverses through green meadows rife with privacy. Through this incredible wilderness, your path leads you to an overlook that is one of the best-kept secrets in all of New Jersey.
As you steadily climb to the top of the loop, the trail opens to a breathtaking clearing that gifts unobstructed views of the Monksville Reservoir with the Wyanokie Mountains as the backdrop to this extraordinarily picturesque payoff.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 2.9 MilesElevation Gain: 567 Feet
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3. Pochuck Boardwalk and Stairway to Heaven
From Hamburg, head east on NJ-94 N for 6.5 miles and turn left on McAfee Glenwood Road. After 1.7 miles, the trailhead for the Appalachian Trail Boardwalk, the trailhead for this hike, will be on your right.
The hike up the Stairway to Heaven is unique for several reasons – the beautiful overlooking bluffs, open cow pastures, and expansive fields of blooming flowers. But the unique attraction here is the construction and variety of the trail surfaces.
From the onset, you will be hiking across boardwalks that lead to narrow wood plank walkways and eventually a towering suspension bridge. This all leads to the “Stairway,” a steep and rocky climb up carefully positioned boulders, your path to the top of Wawayanda Mountain.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 7.5 MilesElevation Gain: 1,122 Feet
4. Hemlock Falls
From Newark, head west on I-280 W for 7.5 miles and use the left two lanes to turn onto Northfield Ave. Make a quick left onto Pleasant Valley Way and then an immediate slight left onto Cherry Lane. Continue for 1.3 miles and make a left on W S Orange Avenue. Drive for 0.5 miles and the trailhead will be on your right.
The hike to high-cascading Hemlock Falls is a journey with both history and mysticism. The rocky trail leads you to the top of Washington Rock, a former signal beacon point used to warn the armies in Morristown of potential British threats.
While imagining being in the footsteps of American soldiers, do not forget to look for fairy houses, whimsical little nooks made of natural materials that are constructed in the overlooking holes in the trees. This short trail is more than meets the eye.
Difficulty: EasyDistance: 1.7 MilesElevation Gain: 301 Feet
5. Torne Mountain and Osio Rock Loop
From Morristown, drive N on I-287 N for 17.3 miles and take exit 53 onto County Road 694 and drive for 1.6 miles. From here, make a slight right onto Glenwild Ave and continue for another 3.2 miles and the trailhead parking area will be on your right.
The trail to Torne Mountain and Oslo Rock is an especially rewarding hike, but with plenty of difficulty. The short, but rugged trail leads you up the rocky hillside until summiting Torne Mountain and Oslo Rock, a stunning panoramic view that, on a cloudless day, gives a mountaintop view of the New York City skyline.
Do not miss the funky stone living room detour at 0.5 miles in, where a set of carefully stacked stones have been assembled into chairs within the wilderness.
Difficulty: StrenuousDistance: 2.6 MilesElevation Gain: 728 Feet
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6. Sunfish Pond via Appalachian Trail
From Byram Township, follow I-80 W for 24.1 miles until you reach Hardwick Township and take the exit towards Dunnfield Creek. After a quick slight right, the Dunncreek Natural Area will be on your right. The connection towards Sunfish Pond via the Appalachian Trail will be here.
Following along the Appalachian Trail, the hike to Sunfish Pond is a wonderful hike that is well-suited for a day hike or an overnight camping trip. The climb can be steep and rocky, but it leads through miles of beautiful forest lands before finally reaching the reflective shores of Sunfish Pond.
More of a small lake than a pond, the waters of Sunfish Pond are an excellent place to relax before returning or setting up camp for the evening.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 9.7 MilesElevation Gain: 1,200 Feet
7. Wyanokie High Point, Chikahoki Falls, and Otter Hole
Credit: Kevin Conley / Flickr
From Riverdale, head north on I-287 N for 1.7 miles and take exit 55 onto County Road 511. Continue for another 4.0 miles and turn left on Westbrook Road. Drive on Westbrook Road for 1.9 miles and after 0.3 miles, turn left onto Snake Den Road. After 0.3 miles, the parking area will be on your left.
The hike to Wyanokie High Point, Chikahoki Falls, and Otter Hole in Norvin Green State Forest is a popular trail that has remarkable natural beauty around every turn. Along the difficult loop, you will encounter roaring waterfalls, beautiful panoramic overlooks of the entire park, and refreshing swimming holes.
Both Chikahoki Falls and Otter Hole are stunning waterfalls that create perfect mountain ponds while Wyanokie High Point is an excellent overlook of Wanaque Reservoir and the valley of Norvin Green State Forest.
Difficulty: StrenuousDistance: 6.6 MilesElevation Gain: 1,387 Feet
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8. Long Loop via Peanut Leap Cascade, Giant Stairs, and Closter Dock
From Northvale, drive north on Livingston St for 0.7 miles, crossing the state line into New York State. Stay on NY-303 for 1.3 miles before turning on Palisades Interstate Pkwy S. Re-enter into Jersey along Palisades Interstate Pkwy S for 4.6 miles and take the exit towards State Line Lookout, the parking area for this hike.
A beautifully challenging hike, the journey through Long Loop via Peanut Leap Cascade, Giant Stairs, and Closter Dock is not your typical day hike. The highlight (and most intense) section of the trail is the aptly named, Giant Stairs – a mile-long rock scramble over rugged and steep boulders that have fallen from the Palisades.
Before leaving, be sure to take in the sweeping views of the Hudson River, along the stone walls of the parking area.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 10.3 MilesElevation Gain: 1,092 Feet
9. Grand Loop Trail at Morristown National Historical Park
From Morristown, drive southwest on Western Avenue for 2.0 miles. The road will become Jockey Hollow Road and continue for another 1.0 mile and the trailhead will be on your right.
The Grand Loop Trail at Morristown National Historical Park is not just a hike with amazing scenery and memorable overlooks, but also a trail rich with history. This moderate loop takes you through the lush and dense forests of Jockey Hollow, once serving as the winter living quarters for the Continental Army from 1777-1780.
You will travel through “Patriot’s Path,” with signage marking where the brigades once occupied the area. This moderate hike traverses through rushing streams and rolling hills before reaching expansive overlooks that can see as far as the Empire State Building.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance:7.1 MilesElevation Gain: 1,030 Feet
10. Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake Loop Trail
From Branchville, head northwest on US-206 N for 3.8 miles and turn left onto Struble Road. Drive down Struble Road for 3.9 miles and turn right on Tilman Road. Drive for 1.0 miles and turn left on Brook Road. Continue for 2.0 miles and the trailhead for Buttermilk Falls will be on your right.
The loop trail from Buttermilk Falls to Crater Lake is an unforgettable experience that is equally beautiful and unique. Buttermilk Falls is located at the very beginning of the hike and is the tallest waterfall in all of New Jersey, cascading down from a towering 200 feet.
From here, you will follow along the historic Appalachian Trail in a moderate climb, traversing through dense forests and colorful meadows that lead you to the rocky shores of picturesque Crater Lake.
Difficulty: StrenuousDistance: 6.8 MilesElevation Gain: 1,453 Feet
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11. Cape May Point Trail
From South Cape May, drive west on Sunset Boulevard for 1.7 miles and make a left on Light House Avenue. The entrance to Cape May Point State Park and parking lot for this hike are on your left.
Central to Cape May State Park is the premier Cape May State Park Trail. This loop hike is suitable for all experience levels and meanders around the length of this unique park. The trail gives you access to the iconic lighthouse overlooking Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, viewing all of Cape May from an unbeatable vantage point.
The path leads to excellent wildlife viewing opportunities in the Cape May Wetlands Natural area and around the shores of Bunker Pond – A haven for rare migratory birds.
Difficulty: EasyDistance: 1.8 MilesElevation Gain: 9 Feet
12. Hacklebarney Loop Trail
From Washington Township, drive south on Fairmount Road for 1.6 miles and make a left onto E Valley Brook Road. After 0.4 miles, make a right on Old Farmers Road and take a right. Drive for 1.6 miles and Old Farmers Road will merge with Hacklebarney Road and continue driving for 0.7 miles. Turn right and you will be in the Hacklebarney Trail parking lot.
Hacklebarney Loop Trail is an excellent hike for beginners and day-hikers alike. This short hike through Long Valley has some elevation gain, but mostly is a well-maintained and smooth hiking surface that makes this hike one of the most popular hikes in New Jersey.
The path follows along fast-moving streams and small waterfalls before leading to the benchmark of this hike, the cascading waters of Black River. This hike is exceedingly popular, getting there early will make for a much more peaceful day in the woods.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 2.1 MilesElevation Gain: 331 Feet
13. Terrace Pond North
From West Milford, head north on Union Valley Road and drive for 1.7 miles, and make a slight left onto Warwick Turnpike. Continue for 1.8 miles and make a slight right onto Clinton Road. Stay on Clinton Road for 1.7 miles and your trailhead will be on the right.
The out-and-back journey to Terrace Pond is a sometimes steep, but peacefully secluded walk to the shores of a picturesque and beautifully reflective glacial lake. The hike is a steady climb of rolling hills, paralleled by forests and unique rock formations.
This gorgeous section of Wawayanda State Park is also a place with an opportunity to see the rare and endangered, red-shouldered hawk. For a less strenuous journey, there is an easier route to the pond via Clinton Road that bypasses much of the elevation gain.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 6.4 MilesElevation Gain: 593 Feet
14. Split Rock Reservoir Loop
Credit: Karen Peterson / Flickr
From Rockaway, drive north on Green Pond Road for 6.7 miles and make a right on Upper Hibernia Avenue. Continue for 1.0 miles and turn left on Split Rock Road. After 1.2 miles, you will find a small dirt lot off the side of the road. Try to get there early, as the lot is small and any parking along the road is illegal and will likely get ticketed.
A challenging trail, the loop around Splitrock Reservoir is a hike reserved for the bold. Along the route, several streams are crossed by exposed boulders that can be difficult to navigate during high water levels. The hike is an unrelenting trek through the rolling hills of the highlands, only taking a “rest” with some light rock scrambling.
With that said, this beautiful hike through this beautiful wilderness and around the stunning landscape surrounding Splitrock Reservoir is well worth the steep price of admission.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 11.6 MilesElevation Gain: 1,673
15. Manaticut Point Trail
From West Milford, drive south on Morsetown Road for 3.4 miles and turn left on Westbrook Road. Stay on Westbrook Road for 2.4 miles and turn left onto Magee and then a near-immediate left onto Burnt Meadow Road. Continue for 1.0 miles and turn left onto Crescent Drive. After 0.2 miles, the trailhead will be on your right.
The Manaticut Point Trail is found in one of the more secluded sections of the Norvin Green State Forest. The moderate out-and-back hike is serene, lending you the sights and sounds of the green New Jersey wilderness as your approach the beautiful and expansive views from Overlook Rock.
From Overlook Rock, you can peer down on beautiful Lake Sonoma with a background canvas of both the Bear and Board Mountains. This private trail is a perfect place to witness the colorful changing leaves in the fall.
Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 4.5 MilesElevation Gain: 770 Feet