While enjoyable for all, this is a particularly special family route as much of the terrain is easily traversed while the scenery is generally constant.
The hike commences on the Appalachian Trail which is positioned perfectly for gradually increasing views of High Point Monument. Once at the obelisk via Monument Trail
, pause for breathtaking 360-degree views of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York and the Catskills. When the park is open you can also climb the 291 steps to the top of High Point Monument for an even better vista.
When you've had your fill of the views, take Monument Trail
, a (mostly) scenic singletrack in and of itself to a unique Atlantic Cedar Swamp that includes a beautiful boardwalk and a host of interesting plant life. Complete the journey through a hardwood forest spotted with occasional pines and return trip via the Appalachian Trail.
Visitors can drive directly to the monument, so this area can be crowded in the summer or nice fall weekends. The monument is not always open either; it's seems to be closed during off hours or in high winds.
If you are traveling south to head home, the Elias Cole restaurant on Route 23 is a wonderful, cash-only American fare diner located 2.5 miles south of the parking lot.
After parking in the large Appalachian Trail Parking Lot (41.302618, -74.667270) take the AT Connector Trail (Blue)
and Iris Trail
to the Appalachian Trail (headed north). About a half a mile into the journey, the AT crosses a 2 lane road (Route 23), and it isn't readily apparent where it picks up on the other side. Look for a 3-4 foot wooden AT symbol staked into the grass on a small hill across the street, and you can't go wrong.
Follow the AT until the overall 1.6-mile mark and continue straight onto Monument Trail
, and up a steep incline. Monument Trail
also branches off to the left, but keep this spot in mind as you'll return to it on you way back to the trailhead. At the top of the incline stands High Point Monument, a war memorial constructed in the 1920s which is open to the public to ascend 220 feet to its viewing room at the top.
Continue on Monument Trail
until the overall 3.5-mile mark; this section is mostly level and mostly singletrack, with some moderate views off to the east at times. There is a junction here, with a very obvious trail spur that leads to the Cedar Swamp Trail
loop, which can be completed either direction. The trail is very level and wide as a road, and this is a special place that follows through dense forests and crosses an open boggy area on a boardwalk. A myriad of interesting plants can be seen throughout this loop.
After completing the loop, head back onto Monument Trail
(heading left) where it links back with the Appalachian Trail at the approximate 6.2-mile mark. The trail is generally flat in this area with one moderate incline; it also has some sporadic views to the west at times and passes through a nice area of spruce pine and has a small creek crossing.
Once back at the AT, retrace your steps to the parking lot.
Typical northern NJ hardwood forest with the Cedar Swamp Trail
being unique and features many great plants and trees: Atlantic White Cedars, spruce trees, the carnivorous pitcher plant, rhododendron, large ferns, black gums, and the White Calla among many more.
Bear, deer, and other standard northern NJ wildlife can be spotted as well.