According to experts, the fall foliage in New Jersey will be particularly brilliant this season thanks to the recent weather. The fall landscape in New Jersey is beautiful from nearly any vantage point. Hikers enjoy the expansive views from mountain summits. Paddlers and bikers see equally gorgeous views from below. Whether you prefer boot, boat or bike there will be many worthwhile vistas in northern New Jersey in the coming weeks. Here are a few.
Wyanokie High Point – Norvin Green State Forest: Considered by some to be the finest viewpoint in the state, with a 360 degree view from a virtually treeless summit. On a clear day the New York City skyline is visable in the distance along with the Shawangunk Ridge to the north, the Ramapo Mountains to the northeast and the Watchung Mountains to the south. Turn west and you have a closeup view of the hills of the Wyanokie Plateau.
To get there park at the old Weis Ecology Center parking on Snake Den Road in Wanaque. Take the green blazed Otter Hole trail east for a short distance, then turn south on the blue blazed Hewitt Butler Trail. Just before the summit turn east on the red and white blazed Wyanokie Circular trail and enjoy the view.
Pinwheel Vista – Wawayanda State Park: In contrast to the views of the NYC skyline and rolling hills found at Wyanokie High Point, the commanding viewpoint at Pinwheel Vista overlooks the farmland and towns that sprang from the rich soil of a huge, glacial lake that once covered this area. There are two approaches. The steep, heart pumping climb from the parking on Route 94, or a longer, more gradual approach from Barrett Road, just south of the High Breeze Farm site. Both approaches use the Appalachian Trail.
To get there take Route 94 to the Appalachian Trail parking about a mile north of the junction with Maple Grange Road. Take the white blazed Appalachian Trail east and up.
The Delaware Water Gap – Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: It would be hard to beat a paddle through the Delaware Water Gap to experience the hills draped in their fall colors. This majestic view has enthralled millions over the years.
Getting there. There are numerous canoe/kayak and raft liveries along this stretch of the river that will rent you a boat for the day.
Split Rock Reservoir – Rockaway Township: This gem of a lake is tucked between Routes 80 and 23. Even though it is a few minute drive from those busy thoroughfares, it provides an experience that is hundreds of miles away. Paddlers will find little evidence of human habitation once they leave the put-in near the dam and with just a little imagination, see themselves paddling a remote, Adirondack pond.
Getting there. Take Green Pond Road to Upper Hibernia Road . After 1 mile, turn left onto Split Rock Road. Drive 1.2 miles to parking lot which is shortly after crossing over the dam.
Old Mine Road – Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Some historians belive that this is one of the oldest, contiuiosly used roads in the US. It dates to prehistoric times when local Indians used it to travel between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. It is also a beautiful road to ride. Mostly flat, it goes through farmland and forest and cars are few and far between by New Jersey standards.
Turn it onto a stunning loop ride by returning via Walpack-Flatbrook Road.
Getting there: Take Route 80 to the Dunnefield Creek parking area. Go east and under the highway to River Road and it eventually turns into Old Mine Road
Paulinskill Valley Trail – Various areas: This former right of way of the New York and Susquahanna Railroad extends from Sparta Junction in Sussex County to Knolwton in Warren County. A flat, easy ride, it passes through hills, farms, historic sites and some awesome scenery.
Getting there: Route 94 to Rt.663 north. Parking is a short distance on the right.
Obviously this is only a tiny sample of the numerous scenic hikes, rides and paddles available in northern New Jersey. If you are looking for places to explore these websites are excellent resources:
NJ Division of Parks and Forestry
The NY/NJ Trail Conference hike finder
NJ Bike Map
With the cooler temperatures and beautiful colors, fall is the perfect time to explore New Jersey. If you have a favorite ride, paddle or hike feel free to share it with us in the comments below.