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15 of the Best Hiking Trails in New Jersey

By | Last Updated : 11th June 2022

New Jersey features over 600 hiking trails, allowing one plenty of opportunities to view the diverse landscape ranging from streams and waterfalls to forests and beaches. Though the trails are spread all over the Garden State, the northern part has most of them. Whether you enjoy rock scrambling or treading along a flat-surfaced scenic path, you would find some of the best trails here.

Hiking Trails in New Jersey

Places to Hike in Northern New Jersey

1. Stairway to Heaven Trail

Stairway to Heaven Trail in Northern New Jersey

This trail is indeed a hike to the heaven with beautiful scenery to admire all along the way. A boardwalk takes you up Wawayanda Mountain, which requires a steep climb on a rocky terrain. Sharing the entire route with Appalachian Trail, the trail provides incredible opportunities to see the wetlands, wildflowers, and wildlife like bears, turtles, and frogs.

On your way to the summit, the viewpoints offer breathtaking vistas of the Vernon Valley and the surrounding Pochuck Mountains. While descending, you could pause to soak in the views of the waterfall and cascades. Make sure to start early to avoid the crowd and the heat.

If you don’t want to hike the steep path but wish to enjoy the views, you can head to the suspension bridge located on the opposite side of the trail. Do take a note that the parking lot near the trailhead has a parking fee of about $ 5 per vehicle.

Length: About 2.6 miles (out and back)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: All year round

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2. Monument Trail

Monument Trail in Northern New Jersey

If planning to access the highest elevation of New Jersey at 1803 feet, you’ll have to hike the Monument Trail in High Point State Park. The entire route is shaded with towering trees, however, the steep inclines on rooted and rocky paths make the hike pretty challenging. Besides, the last half mile requires a strenuous climb to reach the trail’s end. On reaching the Monument’s top, you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the three states– New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. The trail is also a popular winter trail for snowshoeing.

Length: About 3.5 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: All year round

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3. Mt. Tammany Trail

Mt. Tammany Trail in Northern New Jersey

Mt. Tammany Trail is one of the well-traversed trails in the state, easily accessible from Interstate 80. Hiking counter-clockwise, as recommended by most hikers, will make the uphill journey a little tedious, though the way back would be a lot easier. Following this route would take you to the summit via the Red Dot Trail.

The steep section on the rocky face requires a strenuous scramble. However, the picturesque views all along the way are sure to keep you going. At the mountain top, you can enjoy taking in the spectacular views of the Delaware Water Gap and the encompassing mountains. The hike down the Blue Dot Trail is comparatively less strenuous. You’ll see some pretty little cascades and a small swimming hole where you could enjoy cooling off in summer.

Length: About 3.6 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: All year round

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4. Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake Loop Trail

Buttermilk Falls Trail and Crater Lake Loop Trail in Northern New Jersey

Hiking enthusiasts seeking a challenging hike shouldn’t miss treading along this trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Though it’s difficult to hike the inclines and declines, the diverse views of waterfalls, lakes, creeks, wildflower-strewn paths, and scenic valleys all along the way are worth the effort. An attractive spot here is the Buttermilk Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the state. You can access it by hiking less than a mile. Many visitors, who aren’t willing to walk beyond the falls, often turn around from this point.

This trail continues to meander through the woods to join the Appalachian Trail and eventually reaches Crater Lake. As the initial hike up and down the path to the waterfall is pretty steep and slippery, be sure to put on a pair of sturdy hiking shoes.

Length: About 6.8 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Hard

Best time to visit: April to November

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5. Hemlock Falls Trail

Hemlock Falls Trail in Northern New Jersey

The South Mountain Reservation is in close proximity to Jersey City and Newark, making it an ideal day’s trip for those residing anywhere around here. It features the splendid 25-foot Hemlock Falls, reachable via a short loop trail that hikers of all skill levels can access. It is advisable to wear waterproof hiking shoes as some sections are extremely muddy. Though bringing your dogs is permissible, walking along the rocky paths could be challenging for them.

Length: About 1.7 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Easy

Best time to visit: March to October

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6. Giant Stairs Trail

Giant Stairs Trail in Northern New Jersey

Located in Palisades Interstate Park in the northeastern part of the state, Giant Stairs Trail is one of the hardest trails in New Jersey. From maneuvering over a stretch of boulders to hiking along a steep stone staircase, the trail is sure to get your heart pumping. At the same time, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the Hudson River, babbling brooks, and cascading waterfalls.

Be sure to pause at the medieval castle-like structure called the Women’s Federation Monument. It was built in honor of the state’s Women’s Federation clubs that strived hard to preserve the Palisades. Since the rock scrambles are challenging, do not plan on bringing your kids or dogs here.

Length: About 4.3 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Hard

Best time to visit: April to October

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7. Grand Loop Trail

Grand Loop Trail in Northern New Jersey

Grand Loop Trail is a must-hike for those who enjoy a blend of history and hiking. Located in Morristown National Historical Park, the trail traverses through the historical Jockey Hollow woods with gradual inclines and declines along the hills. On the way, you can see some reconstructed barracks of soldiers of the American Revolutionary War.

Length: About 7.1 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: April to September

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8. Hacklebarney Loop Trail

Hacklebarney Loop Trail in Northern New Jersey

The scenic setting of Hacklebarney State Park makes it a perfect spot for picnicking and hiking in the spring and fall seasons. The Hacklebarney Loop Trail offers splendid views of the Black River while meandering through the hardwood forest. It’s a well-marked route with some rocky sections that require a scramble. With red, blue, and white trails and several other adjoining tracks, you can connect the paths or lessen the length of them as per your convenience.

Length: About 2.1 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: All year round

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9. Devils Half-Acre Trail

Devils Half-Acre Trail in Northern New Jersey

Sourland Mountain Preserve, located in the north-central part of New Jersey, is home to many scenic hiking trails. Among these, Devils Half-Acre Trail is one of the most favorites among hikers. It’s a fun challenge trudging over the rocks while the trail twists through the woods.

The quiet and secluded setting with views of streams and foliage makes the hike more enjoyable. It takes less than two hours to complete hiking the trail. If you wish to explore further, you can connect the path with many adjoining trails like Tributary Trail and Roaring Rocks Trail.

Length: About 2.9 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: April to October

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10. Pyramid Mountain Loop Trail

Pyramid Mountain Loop Trail in Northern New Jersey

If you enjoy viewing rock formations, you can hike this trail that loops around the Pyramid Mountain, Tripod Rock, Bear Rock, and Whale Head Rock. It’s well-marked, making it easy to follow. With the towering trees covering most sections, you won’t have a problem treading along it in summer. Though there are inclines and declines and a few rock scrambles, hiking on it is not overly strenuous. Several lookout points provide sweeping views of the stunning scenery. If you find the loop trail is too long to hike, you can consider returning from Tripod Rock that you would come across while following the blue trail marked with black dots.

Length: 5.6-mile loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: All year round

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11. Schooley’s Mountain Boulder Gorge Loop Trail

Schooley’s Mountain Boulder Gorge Loop Trail in Northern New Jersey

This trail near Long Valley offers many scenic views of streams, a lake with a beach, and dense forests. However, the main attraction is the gorgeous waterfall that sits at the trail’s end. Besides, you will also get picturesque views of Long Valley from the lookout points. Hiking it is rated moderately challenging due to the rock scrambles, and the steep incline on the way out and steep decline on the way back.

Length: About 3 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: March to November

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Places to Hike in Central New Jersey

1. Batona Trail

Batona Trail in Central New Jersey

If you want to explore New Jersey’s natural landscape, hiking Batona Trail would be an excellent opinion. Also, it is ideal for those who are seeking a multi-day hiking trail in the state. Connecting three state parks, the trail traverses through the heart of Pine Barrens as it boasts awe-inspiring scenery all along. The relatively flat terrain makes it easily accessible by kids and novice hikers.

It’s also one of the best trails for camping. With many backcountry campsites along the path, you will surely enjoy the experience of staying overnight in close proximity with nature. However, remember to acquire permission to camp here before planning your trip.

Length: 51.3-mile (point-to-point)

Difficulty: Moderate

Best time to visit: March to October

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Places to Hike in Southern New Jersey

1. Batsto Lake Trail

Batsto Lake Trail in Southern New Jersey

An easy hike in South Jersey, Batsto Lake Trail is one of the best trails for families visiting Wharton State Park. The various elevation gains along little hills and the twists and turns through woody areas on a sandy terrain make it a fun path to tread on. Throughout the hike, you will enjoy the views of the lake and the towering pines, along with the peaceful setting.

If you have sufficient time left and wish to extend your hike, you can walk further along the adjoining Tom’s Pond Trail. Also, don’t forget to explore the Batsto Village for some historical insights into the place..

Length: About 4 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Easy

Best time to visit: April to October

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2. Cape May Point Trail

Cape May Point Trail in Southern New Jersey

Cape May Point Trail consists of a combination of boardwalk and a well-groomed path along a flat surface, making it stroller and wheelchair-friendly. The marshy areas, coastal woodlands, and pine needles all along the way beautify the area.

As Cape May Point State Park, within which the trail lies, is home to migratory birds that come here during fall. The historic Cape May Lighthouse, dating back to the World War II period, also sits in the premises and can be seen while hiking along the trail.

Length: About 1.8 miles (loop)

Difficulty: Easy

Best time to visit: All year round

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TOP PICKS

Best Hiking Trails with Waterfalls: Schooley’s Mountain Boulder Gorge Loop Trail, Buttermilk Falls and Crater Milk Loop Trail, Hemlock Falls Trail

Best Mountain Hikes: Mt. Tammany Trail, Stairway to Heaven Trail, Pyramid Mountain Loop Trail

Best Winter Hikes: Monument Trail, Pyramid Mountain Loop Trail, Grand Loop Trail

Best Hikes for Camping: Buttermilk Falls and Crater Milk Loop Trail, Mt. Tammany Trail, Batona Trail

Most Hardest Hikes: Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake Loop Trail, Giant Stairs Trail

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