While it’s often the butt of many a joke, in truth New Jersey is home to a wealth of delightful landscapes. While a short drive in one direction can have you in the middle of Times Square, head the other way and you’ll find yourself in the center of a lush wilderness. Here are just a few of the many beautiful places to go hiking in New Jersey.
Van Campens Glen, Hardwick
Deep within a serene hemlock forest you’ll find not just one, but two cascading waterfalls. A terrific place for birdwatching, this area boasts many varieties of cuckoos and warblers, along with the Louisiana waterthrush and solitary vireo. An established trail meanders along the banks of the stream, providing visitors with a peaceful and relaxing environment. There are a number of different routes to choose from in this area, ranging from one mile to the full 6.8 mile round trip, which includes sections running through historic Millbrook Village, a replica of an original 1832 settlement. This is also a wonderful place to view vibrant fall foliage.
Palisades Cliff, Fort Lee
There are about thirty miles of trails to be explored in Palisades Interstate Park. The Long Path (also called the Aqua Blaze) goes along the top of the cliffs and crosses over into New York State. Along this route, you’ll find the scenic State Line Lookout, where you can see across the Hudson River for one-of-a-kind views of that iconic New York City Skyline.
Within the park, you’ll find a variety of trails. Easy hikes range from less than a mile to three miles, along with moderate trails of 2-5 miles. Those looking for a challenge can tackle the eight mile Bombay Hook, a rugged and sometimes steep route that includes The Giant Stairs, a rocky, boulder strewn area that will definitely give you a run for your money.
Rahway Trail, West Orange
Looking for something to delight your little ones? Head to the South Mountain Reservation to explore the Rahway Trail (white blazes). Here, amidst the towering trees, you can spy tiny houses and sitting areas, put in place for use by the fairies of the forest. Local artist Therese Ojibway began creating these miniature homes several years ago, and over time, visitors have begun adding their own creations to the collection. Hikers are welcome to contribute to the fairy dwellings; just be sure to construct your items out of all-natural materials.
The longest route along this trail is 6 miles, though ample parking options allow visitors to “create their own hike” by parking in different sections along the route. In addition to the wee fairy homes, you can check out the plunging Hemlock Falls, which flows over Washington Rock, an historic landmark of the Revolutionary War.