Sometimes a walk through your neighborhood isn’t enough. According to the NJ State Park Service, there are over 600 miles of trails in New Jersey so there is plenty of ground to cover. The state parks and reservations throughout New Jersey provide breathtaking views of nature including waterfalls, foliage, and wildlife. The wetlands are an especially distinct part of New Jersey’s natural ecosystems. From forests to mountains to beaches, there are trails with different terrains and difficulty levels suited to hikers of all ages and capability. Preparation for hiking is important so remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring water to stay hydrated.
This 70,000-acre park sprawls through parts of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hikers can take in views along the ridge or the edge of the river to find waterfalls. The Kittatinny Ridge is part of the Appalachian Trail which extends through several states.
Cheesequake’s trail is suited to hikers of all levels with several paths available and learning posts with information about the wetlands system. The paths are beginner to moderate level and are great for families with children. Dogs are allowed and there is a picnic area with a beautiful view of the lake.
The Preserve is 4,000 acres of untouched land for a beautiful backdrop to hiking. With the diverse landscape, the preserve is open to hiking, bouldering, mountain biking, and more. With a diverse ecosystem, it is popular as an ecological preserve.
With over 3,000 acres, Six Mile Run is a great nature area in central Jersey that provides a getaway from some of the busy surrounding area. The terrain varies but is easy for beginner level hikers with some hills, forest, and level fields. The trails are open to hiking, bikes, and horseback.
The Norvin Green State Forest is an undeveloped wilderness open to only foot traffic—no bikes or horses unfortunately. But that is due to the rugged setting allowing for scenic views and peaceful walks through the park which also functions as a sanctuary for local wildlife. They also have a carry-in/carry-out program to reduce trash in the park with bags available for public use.
This wooded and hilly area offers opportunities for trails that are open to hiking and mountain biking. Its ponds, streams, and marshes provide beautiful scenery that also serves as a home for birds. Birdwatchers can enjoy this park for that very reason.
Watchung provides six miles of historical trails through lush forests with a mountainous terrain for varied levels of hiking. The reservation also preserves local history with several houses and buildings maintained within the park such as the Deserted Village of Feltville.
Wharton is a prime location for seeing wildlife such as eagles, hawks, osprey, and turkeys. There are several miles of unpaved trails for mountain biking, horseback riding, and general hiking. Canoeing is also allowed in the rivers and streams. If you’re looking for history, Batsto Village is available for walkthroughs to see a bit of New Jersey’s industrial history.
This Essex County park is a multifaceted reservation with a zoo, carriage roads, pond fishing and more. With 2,000 acres, the reservation provides enough nature to explore and learn without becoming too rugged. Nestled in the woods is a 25-foot waterfall.
Established in 1960, this refuge is one of several in New Jersey that is dedicated to preserving an American public space. It teems with natural scenery and wildlife to provide a more rugged hike which can be challenging depending on the weather. Learning programs are available onsite.
According to its site, Allaire is a fascinating combination of history and nature. The 19th-century iron town of Allaire Village still has buildings that remain. With the Manasquan River, canoeing and kayaking are allowed. There are also campsites available if you want an extended week or weekend of hiking to enjoy the hundreds of wildflower and plant species.
For a different background, Corson’s adds a beach backdrop to the otherwise forest-dominated image of hiking. The park is popular for crabbing, fishing, and hiking. Hikers can explore the various shoreline inlets and estuaries to see the local species.
The peacefulness of Wawayanda hikes is one of its many draws. The layout of the park includes several key areas such as Bearfort Mountain which is popular for hawk viewing. Several trails also lead to the cedar swamp and Lake Lookout.
Hacklebarny is a rockier state park due to the Black River that courses through it providing a scenic area. There is wildlife throughout the park including bears, foxes, and deer. It is considered a more rugged hike so caution should be taken in preparation of a visit.
Wildcat Ridge is in northern Jersey. The most well-known is the Four Birds which is 21 miles long and passes by the largest bat cave in New Jersey. There is also the popular Hawkwatch for migration viewing twice a year to see the several hawk species that pass through the area.