Day trip to High Point State Park, New Jersey
The longer I live in New Jersey, the more I fall in love with all it has to offer. That’s a big change from 6 years ago when living in New York and not thinking much of my neighboring state. It’s been s much fun venturing out in search of new hiking trails and learning more about the area and all the beauty around us.
Our latest venture took us about an hour away to the rolling hills and farmlands of Sussex County. High Point, as the name indicates, is the highest point of New Jersey with a monument standing at the 1,803 feet above sea level marker. The view of the Catskill and Pocono mountain range and valleys is breathtaking, especially on a clear and cool fall day. We visited the park too late in the season to have access to the monument and go up it for even grader views, but still, we weren’t disappointed. Visiting off-season also means not being able to swim in the spring-fed, 20-acre Lake Marcia but on a nice day it makes for a quiet picnic spot with views of the monument from afar.
There are 50 miles of trails, many of which can be used for biking, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. I love the diversity of the trails too, catering to every skill level. We hiked along Monument Trail, a 3.7 mile hike from the monument parking lot, along Lake Marcia and back. A longer 4.0 mile hike takes you through the Appalachian Trail, to the monument and back. This trails also goes through the Atlantic white cedar swamp, which at 1500 feet is the highest known swamp of this kind. In the summer months the trail is pretty crowded, but you have the perk of being able to stop at the lake and go for a swim. But in the fall months, especially if you can get there on a week day, the trail is not as crowded and though you can’t swim, we found the colors of the leaves and the serenity of the trail to be worth it still.
Because we were only there for a day, we had enough time to hike, picnic while on the trail, and enjoy the views from the monument’s base. If you’d like to explore deeper, I suggest reserving a camping spot or, if you are lucky enough to get it, one of their furnished cabins. Check out the park’s website for more details.
But even as a day trip, we felt we had an amazing time. We started heading out just before the sun set. The orange, yellow, and red colors of the late afternoon over the tree tops and farms tempting me to stop for photos along the way. We did stop at a local farm for some ice cream and fresh produce and homemade jellies and sauces, though and plan to go back to get our apples and pumpkins!
Whether you enjoy a good day of hiking or just want an escape into nature, High Point State Park is definitely an area to consider, especially now as the leaves start to change colors for fall.