New Jersey is a one-of-a-kind state. Where else can you ski, hike, swim in the ocean, canoe down a river, and pick fruit? With the Appalachian Mountains rolling through the north, and the Delaware River Gap cutting through the south, there are plenty of options for hiking in New Jersey. Read on to discover your next trail.
Easy Hiking in New Jersey
1. Hacklebarney State Park
First on the list of hiking in New Jersey is Hacklebarney State Park! Hacklebarney State Park was an iron ore mining site in the 1800s. The Black River, Rinehart Brook, and Trout Brook all cut through the trails, adding the pleasant gurgling sounds of nature to your hike. Stick to the red path, 3.7 miles, for the full trail and best views. If you can, visit in October to take in the luscious fall foliage that surrounds you.
2. Stone Lake Loop
This trail is short, but packs quite a punch. Nestled in Stokes State Forest, the 1.1-mile loop includes two waterfalls. The Stony Brook Falls are a nearly vertical drop of water tucked into the side of the hill. The trail on the map is marked as blue/brown, but the markers on the trees are actually blue/yellow.
3. Pochuck Boardwalk
This 2-mile hike is on a flat boardwalk terrain, letting you walk over marshes and tall grass. Keep your eyes peeled for turtles popping up from the marsh. While one of the easier hikes in New Jersey, the Pochuck Boardwalk still offers an enriching vista of wildlife. You can also tell your friends you hiked part of the Appalachian Trail.
4. Waterfront Park
If you’re in Atlantic City, take a break from the slots to stroll through Waterfront Park. This 2-mile path is located on the beach, the crash of the waves bringing extra zen to your hike. Sculptures by local artists dot the path. The Waterfront Park is by no means strenuous, but it is one of the few New Jersey hiking trails along the ocean.
5. Barnegat Branch Trail
This is one of the longer easy trails at 7.6 miles, but it’s perfect for hikers who are also into trains. The trail follows along the old route of the Central Railroad, which laid down the track in the 1830s. On a mix of paved and gravel trails, take in the bounty of hiking in New Jersey as you travel from bucolic Barnegat Township through the pine barrens into the cute village of Waretown and finally to the Forked River. At one point, the trail goes across a converted railroad trestle, perfect for snapping a selfie.
6. Atkins Glen Park
For 1.6 miles, get lost in the stunning beauty of the surrounding forest and streams crisscrossing your trail, then head into Park Ridge for a bite at a mom-and-pop shop. There’s a sign that says this trail is for residents only, but it’s rarely enforced so long as visitors are respectful and leave no trace.
7. Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Enjoy the flat, easy-on-the-feet boardwalk hike through a swamp wildlife preserve. The land is surrounded by suburbs and development on all sides, making it one of the few natural habitats in New Jersey for birds and animals. There are 244 species of birds that call the Great Swamp home, so bring your binoculars. Treat your 2-mile hike as a mini safari. Reflect beside the countless ponds and lakes dotting the refuge or rest by the winding Passaic River.
Moderate Hiking in New Jersey
8. Stairway to Heaven
Hands down, the crown jewel of hiking in New Jersey. The 7.3-mile trail goes from the Pochuck Valley to the Pinwheel Vista. You’ll encounter a variety of sites and terrains on the hike: boardwalk (the Pochuck Boardwalk mentioned above), suspension bridges, dense forests, fields of wildflowers, train tracks, a cow pasture, and a boulder field. They all lead to the breathtaking Pinwheel Vista at the peak, with stunning views of mountains, farmland, and High Point. The titular Stairway to Heaven part is a section of steep rocks you’ll have to climb during part of your hike, so wear appropriate hiking shoes.
9. Mount Tammany Hike
Mount Tammany Hike is a 3.6-mile trail located in Worthington State Forest and provides gorgeous views of the Delaware River Gap, a must-see attraction when considering hiking in New Jersey. There are two trails: red and blue. Red is more advanced, and it’s recommended that you hike the red trail on your way up, then take the easier blue trail on the way down.
10. Sourland Mountain Preserve
Hike across boardwalks and through the boulders of Devil’s Half Acre and Roaring Rocks with this 5.7-mile trail. The terrain is extra rocky and can be more challenging after rainy weather, so check the weather before you go. It’s an ideal trail if you enjoy looking at rock formations.
11. Chikahoki Falls
Located in Norvin Green State Forest, this 7.7-mile trail is known for being rocky but manageable. You can check out the Chikahoki Falls slicing through the rocks and forest during your trek and end at a peak that gives you 360 degree views, including the New York City skyline on a clear day. The trail system in the forest is pretty thorough, so you can break this down into shorter hikes. For instance, there’s a smaller 2.2 mile just to the falls.
12. Baldplate Mountain
Baldplate Mountain is the most continuously forested area in Central Jersey. The trail is 6.7 miles of mostly flat terrain and lush greenery, exemplifying the beauty of hiking in New Jersey. The trails are closed to hikers in December for hunting season.
13. Apple Pie Hill
Check out this 8.4-mile hike in Wharton State Forest that takes you through part of the Pine Barrens, the largest remaining Atlantic coastal coniferous ecosystem in the world. The terrain is mostly flat, but walking over the unique sandy soil can take some getting used to. Make sure to climb the fire tower on the trail, which lets you look out over the entire Pine Barrens.
14. Higbee Beach
If you’re down in historic Cape May, take a walk through this 2.9-mile trail. The Higbee Beach path cuts through wooded wildlife preserves and takes you into the sandy dunes of Delaware Bay Beach. Walking over sand dunes will definitely give your legs a workout. It’s best to visit in spring before the weather heats up.
Challenging Hiking in New Jersey
15. Buttermilk Falls
Getting to witness New Jersey’s tallest waterfall is worth the arduous 6.8-mile hike. The trail starts out rough with a very steep initial climb before it evens out. Once you’re over that hump, take in the beauty of peaceful Hemlock Pond. Then, prepare to be humbled by the view of the flowing Buttermilk Falls which will remind you of hot syrup dribbling down a sizzling stack of pancakes.
16. Bearfort Mountain
Bearfort Mountain is a 7.3 mile hike on very rocky terrain. Lots of jagged rock and spindly roots jutting out. The trail starts off with a sharp incline before leveling off. At the top, you will find stunning views of Greenwood Lake and Surprise Lake.
17. Sunfish Pond
Yes, the route is only 4 miles, but the first 1.3 miles are straight uphill, and the rest of the path is extremely rocky and rooty around the pond. Sunfish Pond butts up against the Appalachian Mountains, giving it its rough terrain.
18. Batona Trail
Hiking in New Jersey doesn’t get tougher than the Batona Trail. Short for Back to Nature, the Batona Trail is a 50-mile, multi-day hike through all three forests located in the Pine Barrens. It’s mostly flat terrain, with about twenty percent being the signature sandy soil of the Pine Barrens. Batona trail is one of the only hikes in New Jersey that allows you to do backpack camping along the trail, though there are plenty of campsites.
19. Giant Stairs Hike
The titular natural staircase makes this 4-mile hike a challenge. You have to trek straight down from the top of the cliffs to the Hudson River. But you are left with beautiful views of the river and New York State. It’s a great leg workout!
20. Stonetown Circular
Enjoy 10.6 miles hiking to the top of Harrison Mountain. As with any mountain hike, there are lots of steep ups and downs, so make sure you have the right footwear. Beautiful views of the Wanaque Reservoir and New York skyline await you, though.
21. Grand Loop Trail
Last but not least on my list of hiking in New Jersey is Grand Loop Trail! History buffs will love this rigorous and educational trail which clocks in at 6.5 miles. The path runs through the site where George Washington and the Continental Army spent the 1779-80 winter. There are even reconstructed soldier barracks you can check out.
Take a Hike!
You have tons of options for hiking in New Jersey, from strolls along the beach to arduous treks across the Appalachian Mountains.
Want to make the most of New Jersey’s beautiful trails? Check out 40 of the Best Places To Go Camping In New Jersey for more chances to explore!