Friday, August 21, 2009

On The Appalachian Trail in New Jersey

Take a weekend to hit the trail and see New Jersey in all its natural splendor as it was 200 years ago. The New Jersey stretch of the Appalachain Trail starts in the northern-most corner of the state at High Point State Park at Route 23 and extends down to the Delaware Water Gap.

Most of us will never be the full distance and through-hikers that do the 2000-mile Appalachian Trail across the tops of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine. More people hike the trail in sections, and the 72 miles of it through New Jersey can be further divided into some great one day hikes.

This is another one of those areas of NJ that will surprise even natives - you will forget that you are in NJ - or you will realize (as with our beaches) that we compete very well with other states that are more known for their outdoor recreation and scenery.

Heading into NJ from PA across the Delaware River

The NJ AT is intersected by country lanes or Park roads about every 5 to 10 miles which make it easier to do in stages.

If you are doing a six+ mile section, you should have decent hiking boots (thick soles, and high enough to give ankle support) that allow for some heavy socks and swollen feet. Dress for the weather and the bugs of the season (bring some spray). A light pack (the kids' school backpack can do for a day), lunch and some trail snacks (trail mix is not required!) and a good supply of water. A cell phone is good to have along.

The AT winds among glacial erratics
along the crest of Kittatinny Mountain
Stokes State Forest, NJ

Wawayanda Mountain to Warwick Turnpike (6 miles) - This is a good one-day hike. Wawayanda State Park extends across 13,000 acres of wild land. It is a remote plateau covered by rhododendron bogs where bears forage, craggy cliffs where coyote and bobcat make their dens, and hemlock ravines through which fast-moving streams surge and plummet. This mountain boasts some of the oldest bedrock along the entire AT and a history of habitation that stretches back 12,000 years.

Sunrise Mountain & High Point (17 miles) - Here's a more challenging one-day hike. (There are camping opportunities on sections of the trails.) The northern Kittatinny Ridge rises in an uninterrupted rampart, climbing to 1803 feet at High Point, the greatest elevation above sea level in New Jersey. This rugged AT ridge walk is punctuated by craggy ledges, far-reaching vistas, plus the Normanook Fire Tower, Sunrise Mountain Pavilion, and High Point Monument, man-made features that ascend above the natural landscape.


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