New Jersey may be known for its famous resort towns, boardwalks, and Victorian homes on The Shore of the Atlantic Coast, but the Garden State has much to offer hikers and nature lovers who want to get away from city life as well. For your convenience we've highlighted what we think are five of the best hiking trails in New Jersey based on suggestions from Trails.com and TripAdvisor.com.
Beaver Brook Trail
The Beaver Brook Trail is a rugged, narrow hiking path through quintessential New Jersey Highland country that treats explorers to views of rocky crags, boulders and wide expanses of tall forests. This 6.2-mile round-trip hike ascends to overlook the construction and dams of an active beaver colony, as you won't get a glimpse of the nocturnal animals during the day.
Appalachian Trail (NJ Portion)
Hikers can explore up to 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail within New Jersey's borders, as it runs from the Delaware Water Gap along the Kittatinny Ridge to the New York state line. This portion of the AT crosses remote, undeveloped backcountry for miles at a time, and points of interest include Sunfish Pond, Mount Mohican, High Point State Park, and Greenwood Lake.
Hikers travel 15 miles on the Columbia Trail, which runs parallel to the South Branch of the Raritan River through deciduous and evergreen forests along an abandoned rail line corridor. You'll have ample opportunity to see wildlife such as deer, raccoons, and coyote as well as many species of waterfowl, including woodpeckers, herons, and ducks, if you take this hike.
Lawrence Hopewell Trail
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is an easy 20-mile loop that runs through forests and wildflower meadows around Lawrence and Hopewell Townships. Made up primarily of natural, off-road paths, the Lawrence Hopewell Trail abounds with amphibians, birds, and mammals.
Stairway to Heaven
In northwestern New Jersey, the Stairway to Heaven is a moderately challenging 3-mile hiking trail that climbs a steep ridge to a flat, rocky overhang that gives unobstructed views of the surrounding wilderness as far as High Point Monument. The Stairway to Heaven offers hikers wide-ranging scenery that includes the Kittatinnies and Catskill Mountain ranges, dense forests, rocky outcroppings, grassy fields, a valley, and even a swamp.