Best Hikes in New Jersey

New Jersey is amassed with greenery, trees, and rocky pathways that add challenges. There are so many trails that are unbelievably awesome to explore here. It’s the state that I grew up in and sure, New Jersey is a smaller state compare to a lot of others, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make it “feel bigger” when you’re hiking. Hiking trails here can be found from the North to the South and it’s the ultimate nature escape aside from our beaches. Hikes here can also range from easy, moderate, and difficult with a number of different trail ways to take in one spot alone and just seemingly appropriate for all outdoor aficionados.

If you’re researching for great hikes to find, you’ll probably come across a lot of places, but I got you. These are the best (and also probably popular) places to do hikes in New Jersey:

Mount Tammany

If you talk to any New Jersey local or even those who come to travel our state, Mount Tammany might be the first mention of what hike you should do because it’s that popular. It’s also one of the hardest to do, especially if you take the red dot trail. Located in the Delaware Water Gap, it shares the border with Pennsylvania and you will be surprised by the river views. It’s the southernmost peak of the Kittatinny Mountains and the views are just incredible and worth it from all the big boulders you have to step over and the daddy long legs and centipedes that come your way during the summer.

Location: Located near Knowlton, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Red dot and blue dot loop trail
Length: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Hard
Route type: Loop
Elevation gain: 1,197 ft

Vernon Boardwalk via The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (or A.T.) is one of the longest hiking-only trails in the country at 2,200 miles and it passes through 14 states, New Jersey is one of them. If you’re not a thru-hiker who wants to tackle the whole thing in one season, then doing a very short portion of it in a day is totally doable and easy here, all appropriate for beginners.

It passes through the A.T. and it consists of tight boardwalks to walk through and it is especially nicer here in the summer. It is also right across Pochuck Mountain, which has the beautiful Stairway to Heaven hike.

Location: Located in Vernon Township, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Vernon boardwalk
Length: 2.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route type: Out and back
Elevation gain: 91 ft

Stairway to Heaven

One of my favorite hikes I’ve done in New Jersey. It has very rocky pathways with a lot of boulders to step over too, rock slabs to walk on, and it’s a steep climb like Mount Tammany. You get a beautiful overlook of the whole area of meadows, farms, trees and other shadowing mountains in the distance of Pinwheel Vista.

You’ll be on the elevation of 1,283 ft as you reach the top. There are wildflowers you can find in the summer there too. You can also hike this through Pochuck Valley using the Vernon Boardwalk too if you want to make your hike longer. 

Location: Located in Vernon Township, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Stairway to Heaven trail
Length: 2.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Route type: Out and back
Elevation gain: 892 ft

Buttermilk Falls

This is the tallest waterfall in the state and it’s not even that tall, but it’s none-the-less gorgeous to see. It’s 90 feet tall and it’s located in the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. You can hike to the top of the waterfalls to get a luscious peek of the falls flowing down or you can hike it even longer to check out the overlook of all the surrounding areas below. I wasn’t able to hike the whole thing because I came there a lot later. It’s stunningly green to see during the summer.

Location: Located near Layton, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Crater Lake loop
Length: 6.7 miles
Difficulty: Hard
Route type: Loop
Elevation gain: 1,453 ft

Hemlock Falls via South Mountain Reservation

The hemlock falls is pretty unique to see and I love the rock formations around it. Not tall at all, but it still has water flowing. Though this hike has mostly mediocre views, you’ll find many butterflies actively wandering there. The inclines are easy to do and there are cool hills to walk on, where you can also look below to see a small river flowing. It is poorly marked though, but I love using my AllTrails app, so you don’t have to worry about which direction to take.

Location: Located near Millburn, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Lenape (yellow) trail
Length: 5.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route type: Loop
Elevation gain: 751 ft

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Also, a favorite of mine in the state. This area is 4,200 acres huge and a wildlife sanctuary. The elevations will range from 200 feet to 1,100 feet here depending on what challenge you want to take on. There’s an abundance of trails to do here, but the one I did so far is the yellow trail. No matter what trail you take, you can sure to see overlooks of the many trees, the Ramapo Lake, streams, and the forest also connects into New York. You can also be lucky to see the skyline of New York City, especially if you take the yellow trail that leads to explorable and impressive castle ruins (that isn’t even a castle).

Location: Located near Oakland, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Yellow trail, East Shore drive, and Foxcroft Road loop
Length: 3.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Route type: Loop
Elevation gain: 498 ft

Washington Valley Park / Chimney Rock Park

715-acres huge, it is right along the Watchung Mountains. This park is also known as the Chimney Rock Park. You can be in the company of forests, freshwater wetland marshes, a reservoir, and man-made waterfalls that is not to miss. There’s an overlook that will show you an aerial view of the cities of Bound Brook and Martinsville with hills.

Location: Located near Bridgewater, NJ
Recommended trail to take: Buttermilk Falls
Length: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Route type: Loop
Elevation gain: 242 ft

Devil’s Half Acre via Sourland Mountain Preserve

If your ideal hike is to explore huge gray boulders, this trail is perfect. This super cool hike takes you through the forest to see the few boulder fields. But what’s cool about these boulders? They’re from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic age and composed of sedimentary rocks! This trail can be accessed through the White Square Loop. You will come across boardwalks to walk through and mini wooden bridges within the heavily wooded forest that are perfect for photo opportunities. Though, being on the rocks itself is a special moment to photograph too!

Location: Located near Hillsborough Township and Montgomery Township, NJ
Recommended trail to take: The White Square Loop
Length: 2.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Route type: Loop
Elevation gain: 433 ft

Other places to hike at

These are places I have yet to go to and hike, but they’re highly recommended too.

  • High Point State Park
  • Hacklebarney State Park
  • Bearfort Mountain
  • Palisades Interstate Park

To hike in New Jersey can be an introduction to your East Coast adventures and all of them can account for day trips. Eventually, you’ll also want to try its neighboring states, Pennsylvania and New York, for more impressive hikes.

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