Best hiking trails in North Jersey

Table of Contents

Image by Jean-Baptiste N. from Pixabay

Hiking in New Jersey has become one of my favorite pastimes. I cherish the opportunity to immerse myself in the serene embrace of nature, where the soothing sounds and melodies of the surroundings work wonders in washing away the stresses of daily life. It’s a therapeutic escape from the hustle and bustle, allowing me to find peace amidst the chaos.

Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly trail for quality time with kids, a social hike with friends, or a solitary journey to reflect and recharge, there’s something in these trails for everyone. So before you embark on your adventure, be sure to check the difficulty ratings to find the perfect match for your hiking experience.


Essex County

    • South Mountain Reservation (South Orange Avenue and Cherry Lane, West Orange, NJ) – The South Mountain Reservation, covering 2,110 acres, is a nature reserve that is part of the Essex County Park System. It is located in central in portions of Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, and borders South Orange, between the first and second ridges of the Watchung Mountains. This park contains a segment of the 36-mile Lenape Trail, a unique urban/suburban trail connecting 18 parks and 11 municipalities in Essex County.

    Bergen County

      • Ramapo Mt. State Forest (253 Skyline Drive, Oakland, NJ) – This hilly forest is a sanctuary for wildlife. Hikers and mountain bikers enjoy miles of challenging trails. Many trails offer a view of the New York City skyline. Birdwatchers are attracted to the forest for its ponds, streams and marshes that provide the perfect habitat for bird and other wildlife species. This State Forest has 10 trails that range in length and difficulty. 

      Hudson County

        • Liberty State Park (200 Morris Pesin Dr, Jersey City) – While Liberty State Park doesn’t offer your traditional hiking trails, there are still plenty of trails to be explored! One of my favorite ones is located on Upper New York Bay, opposite Liberty Island and Ellis Island there is a 3.0-mile loop trail near Jersey City, New Jersey. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 55 minutes to complete and offers beautiful views of New York City.  Another, called the Caven Point is an ecologically unique area of Liberty State Park that provides critical habitat for many species including migrating birds and features a sandy beach, saltwater marshland, and a boardwalk trail.

        Morris County

            • Highlands Trail at Spruce Run (68 Syckel’s Road, Clinton) – The Highlands Trail extends over 150 miles from Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River in New York south to Riegelsville, NJ on the Delaware River. The hike route is about 2.6 miles long.

              • Pyramid Mountain National Historic Area (472 Boonton Ave, Boonton) – Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area features over 1,600 acres of rugged trails, fields, forests, rock outcroppings, and wetlands. Easily visible to hikers are the unusual glacial erratic boulders deposited by the Wisconsin Glacier over 18,000 years ago, such as Bear Rock, Tripod Rock, and Whale Head Rock.

                • Hacklebarney State Park (119 Hacklebarney Rd, Long Valley) – Three rare and endangered plant species exist within the park: American ginseng, leatherwood, and Virginia pennywort. Hacklebarney State Park is popular destination for anglers, hikers and picnickers. The trails are well marked and managed, peaceful forest setting with small waterfalls along the way.


                  • Farny State Park (Split Rock Road, Rockaway) – This forested wilderness connects watershed lands and is crossed by an old logging road. Streams, mixed oak-hardwood forest, and swamps comprise the park. Trail entry is through the Farny Natural Area. Split Rock Reservoir is adjacent to the park. There are numerous trails of varying difficulty that cross the natural area for hiking. Trail entry is through Farny Natural Area.

                    • Great Swamp (247 Southern Blvd, Chatham) – The refuge was established by an act of Congress on November 3, 1960. There are 4 great hiking trails in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. They vary in length and the type of habitats that can be viewed.


                  Photo by Jesper Rautell Balle |


                    • Morristown National Historical Park (586 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown) – Morristown National Historical Park offers a variety of experiences for families. There are around 27 miles of designated and well-marked hiking trails. Enjoy hand-curated trail maps, along with reviews and photos from nature lovers like you.

                    Passaic County 

                        • Paterson Great Falls (72 McBride Ave, Paterson) – There are 2 easy hiking trails in Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park that are great for the whole family. You can view the majestic falls (The Paterson Great Falls are the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi!), stop by the National Park Service office to grab a Junior Ranger booklet for your child so they can earn their Junior Ranger badge! Those are not your typical hiking trails however, the park provides breathtaking views and is generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 12 min to complete. This is a popular trail for walking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The best times to visit this trail are March through November. 

                      Saurav Pandey Photography / Getty Images

                          • Long Pond Ironworks State Park (1334 County Rd 511, Hewitt) – Long Pond Ironworks State Park contains the remnants of ironworks operating from 1766 to 1886, two other pre-Civil War furnaces and two waterwheels surviving to this day. A visitor center and museum are on site. There are 10 hiking trails ranging in distance from .41 mile to 5.8 miles.

                            • Abram S. Hewitt State Forest (West Milford Township) – The forest is isolated and untouched, accessible only on foot. Marshes and wetlands are scattered throughout the forest with several brooks and streams crisscrossing the lower areas. A section of Bearfort Ridge reaches into Hewitt State Forest, offering hikers a challenging climb with a rewarding view. There are trails ranging from 1 mile to 4.2 miles.

                              • Ringwood State Park (1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood) – Ringwood State Park contains the New Jersey Botanical Garden at Skylands, the historic Ringwood Manor and the Shepherd Lake Recreation Area. The park is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry. This state park offers over 15 hiking trails that range from .6 miles to 7 miles.

                              • Norvin Green State Forest (150 Snake Den Road, Ringwood) – The undisturbed forest and rugged terrain of Norvin Green offers sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. Part of the Wyanokie Wilderness Area, the forest is near Wanaque Reservoir and is home to an extensive trail system built from old logging roads. Several trails link up with public and private facilities, including the New Weis Center. The existing trails, either old forest roads or new trails constructed by volunteers, are perfect for nature walks and other outdoor classroom activities.



                              Sussex County

                                  • Wawayanda State Park (441 New Jersey 94, Vernon Twp.) – Wawayanda State Park is a popular destination for hikers, campers, swimmers, and boaters. Forested hills surround the lake and a twenty-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park. The top of Wawayanda Mountain offers sensational views. More than forty miles of trails are marked in the park.

                                    • High Point State Park (1480 Rt. 23, Sussex) – High Point State Park is a popular destination for hikers, skiers, campers and anglers. The feature attraction is High Point Monument located 1,803 feet above sea level and offering panoramic views.

                                      • Stokes State Forest (1 Coursen Road, Branchville) – The breathtaking and panoramic view from Sunrise Mountain along the Appalachian Trail rewards the hiker who has trekked up the steep side of the mountain. The view encompasses the pastoral farmland of New Jersey to the east and undeveloped forests and mountain ridges to the west. For those who don’t relish the idea of climbing up the side of a mountain and following a sometimes rocky and steep trail for a few hours, there is a short drive to the pavilion at the top of the mountain.

                                        • Swartswood State Park (1091 E Shore Road, Swartswood) – Established in 1914 as New Jersey’s first state park, Swartswood is well known for its great fishing and tranquil surroundings. The park is open year-round with a variety of recreational activities available depending on the season. Trails are short, easy to moderate in difficulty and explore the unique glaciated landscape of the region. Trails are from .5 mile to just over 3 miles.

                                          • Kittatinny Valley State Park (199 Goodale Rd, Newton) – Kittatinny Valley State Park is home to a variety of wildlife including whitetail deer, wild turkey, a variety of songbirds, beaver, muskrats, and squirrels. Trails in the park vary in difficulty and terrain. 


                                          • Hopatcong State Park (Lakeside Boulevard, Landing) – Hopatcong State Park is at the southwest end of Lake Hopatcong and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming. The historical museum is located in the old Morris Canal lock tenders house and offers exhibits on local American Indian history, the Morris Canal and the history of the lake. There is one, .25 miles long hiking trail.

                                          Union County

                                              • Hawk Rise Sanctuary (1811 Lower Road, Linden) – it was opened in 2012 and is maintained by the NJ Audubon Society. This place offers about 1.5 miles of trails and the sanctuary spans 95 acres. 

                                                • Trailside Nature and Science Center (452 New Providence Rd, Mountainside) – the trails are located in the Watchung Reservation. The 2,065-acre preserve contains woodlands, lakes, streams, fields and more than 13 miles of hiking trails. 

                                                  • Reeves-Reed Arboretum (165 Hobart Ave, Summit) – this is a hidden gem for a perfect nature walk. The Arboretum is about 13.5 acres of natural beauty, including forests with clearly marked trails. There are two trails, and each is less than a mile long.



                                                Warren County

                                                    • Mount Tammany of the Kittatiny Mountains (Red Dot Trail) (Worthington State Forest in the Delaware Water Gap) – this is a pretty challenging loop in the Delaware Water Gap. The Red Dot trail requires climbing up some rocks on rather steep terrain as it climbs almost 1200 feet in 1.5 miles. The Blue Dot is also rocky, however more gradual.

                                                      • Stephens Allamuchy State Park (Waterloo Rd, Byram) – Allamuchy Mountain State Park is known to have some of the best trout fishing in the state thanks to access to the Musconetcong River. Waterloo Village, located on the banks of the Morris Canal, is well known for its historic buildings and diverse cultural programs of classical and popular music as well as dance and opera. There are more than 14 miles of marked trails available.

                                                        • Jenny Jump State Forest (330 State Park Rd, Hope) – Jenny Jump State Forest is located in Warren County along the stunning rolling terrain of Jenny Jump Mountain Range. Panoramic vistas of the Highlands and the Kittatinny Mountains and Valley to the west, and scenic views of the Great Meadows in the east dramatically greet the visitor who climbs the narrow path leading to the top of Jenny Jump Mountain. Rocky outcroppings and boulders line the trail – evidence that great glaciers once covered what is now known as Jenny Jump State Forest. There are about 11 miles of hiking trails with magnificent views of the mountains and scenic Mountain Lake.


                                                      So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice explorer, I encourage you to lace up your boots, pack a water bottle, and hit the trails. New Jersey’s diverse landscapes offer something for everyone, promising moments of wonder, discovery, and pure joy. Embrace the journey, and may each hike bring you closer to nature and closer to yourself. Happy trails!

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