Home Central Jersey The Best Hiking Trails to Enjoy Fall Foliage in New Jersey

The Best Hiking Trails to Enjoy Fall Foliage in New Jersey

The latest update for The Best Hiking Trails to Enjoy Fall Foliage is written by Lindsay Podolak.

As the temperature cools and the leaves start to change, there’s no better way to embrace the season than to get outside and explore the nature around you. New Jersey is home to miles upon miles of beautiful hiking trails, many of which offer the stunning New York City skyline views unique to our state. Which makes fall hiking in NJ a must!

Below are a few of the best trails, where you can immerse yourself in all of the reds, oranges, and golds that you can handle. Grab your water bottle, hiking boots — and maybe even your furry best friend — and get going!

Quick Click Guide: Select an NJ Region below to find the best fall hiking trails near you.
| North Jersey | Central Jersey | Jersey Shore | South Jersey |

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North Jersey

Ramapo Lake

Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area

Standout Trail: A scenic 7.5-mile hike covers Buttermilk Falls, Crater Lake, and Hemlock Pond. Begin at Buttermilk Falls, head onto the Appalachian Trail until you reach the Crater Lake Trail, you’ll then use the Blue Mountain Lakes Trail to link back up with the Buttermilk Falls Trails and return using that route.
Location: Layton, Sussex County
Estimated Duration: 6 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: Buttermilk Falls is NJ’s highest waterfall and a favorite destination of visitors to the park. Be sure to plan your hike after a period of rain to get the best views of the waterfall.
More info: Click here.

Hacklebarney State Park

Standout Trail: Take the Main Trail to the Upper Trail, and then use the Lower Trail to hike along the Black River before looping back.
Location: Morris County
Estimated Duration: 2 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: This trail takes hikers along many streams as well as the Black River, which is a plus as proximity to water causes leaves to change color earlier in the season.
More info: Click here.

Norvin Green State Forest

Standout Trail: This four-mile trail will take you to one of the best views in New Jersey, Wyanokie High Point. Begin on the Otter Hole Trail, until you come to the Hewitt-Butler Trail, and follow this trail to the Wyanokie Circular Trail. Continue on the Wyanokie Circular Trail until it splits from the Mine Trail, at which point you should follow the Mine Trail to the Roomy Mine Trail. Stick to this trail until you once again reach the Mine Trail. From here, follow the Hewitt-Butler Trail to the Otter Hole Trail until you come back to your starting point.
Location: Passaic County
Estimated Duration: 3 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: Wyanokie High Point features breathtaking skyline views, and also overlooks the Wanaque Reservoir. You’ll also see an old copper mine, as well as many streams and unique rock formations.
More info: Click here.

Palisades Interstate Park

Standout Trail: Take the Long Path, which starts at the stunning State Line Lookout, and moves through the park, hitting many other places of interest along the way.
Location: Bergen County
Estimated Duration: 4 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: State Line Lookout features a breathtaking panoramic view of the Hudson River. The park also boasts Greenbrook Sanctuary (a secluded woodland preserve), three historic sites (including the Kearney House, a nineteenth century tavern), four picnic areas, and three boat basins.
More info: Click here.

Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area

Standout Trail: Pyramid Mountain staff members recommend a 3.5-mile, moderately challenging trail that begins in the parking area, passes through a scenic overlook, and culminates at Tripod Rock. Plus, the return loop has a stretch along the Taylortown Reservoir.
Location: Montville Township
Estimated Duration: 2.5 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: The trail boasts stunning views of the New York City skyline, waterfalls, wetlands — and an up-close look at Tripod Rock. It’s a glacial erratic — aka, a rock not native to the area — and, as a 160-ton boulder balanced on three smaller stones, it’s a striking feat of nature.
More info: Click here.

Ramapo Mountain State Forest

Standout Trail: The trails are adaptable, but we like the five-mile route that takes hikers along Ramapo Lake and passes through the ruins of Van Slyke Castle. Take the MacEvoy Trail for about 1.5 miles, turn off onto Castle Point Trail, and use the Todd Trail to loop back around to the MacEvoy Trail.
Location: Bergen and Passaic counties
Estimated Duration: 3.5 hours
Hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm until November 1, when the trails will close at 6:00 pm
Why It’s Great: The trails are flexible, so hikers can mix-and-match routes based on their interests and ability. And Ramapo boasts New York City skyline views — as well as the ruins of Van Slyke Castle.
More info: Click here.

Worthington State Forest

Standout Trail: A 7.8-mile trek follows the park’s Dunnfield Creek trail from the parking area for the first 3.5 miles, reaches Sunfish Pond, and returns on the Appalachian Trail.
Location: Hardwick Township, Warren County
Estimated Duration: 5.5 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: You can enjoy breathtaking views of Delaware Water Gap and Sunfish Pond, a stunning glacial lake. Warning: This terrain is rocky, so hiking boots are a must!
More info: Click here.

Central Jersey

Cheesequake State Park

Standout Trail: A 4.5-mile hike explores Hooks Creeks Lake, Perrine Pond, and terrain ranging from forests to salt marshes. For this hike, take the Yellow Trail to the Blue Trail until you reach the Green Trail, which will complete the loop.
Location: Middlesex County
Estimated Duration: 3 hours
Hours: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Why It’s Great: This park boasts a rare combination of vegetation, from salt marshes to wetlands to forests, all of which are easily accessible to hikers through various trails.
More info: Click here.

Sourland Mountain Preserve

Standout Trail: The Ridge Trail takes you on a 5-mile trek where you will see gorgeous fall foliage, plus a variety of birds like the Summer Tanager, the Winter Wren, and the Carolina Chickadee.
Location: Somerset County
Estimated Duration: 2.5 hours
Hours: 7:00 am to sunset
Why It’s Great: The Ridge Trail takes you past the Devil’s Half-Acre, a group of boulders to admire or even climb on!
More info: Click here

Jersey Shore

jakes branch county park

Belleplain State Forest

Standout Trail: The East Creek Trail is a 7-mile, mostly flat and sandy path that starts and ends at Lake Nummy.
Location: Cape May and Cumberland Counties
Estimated Duration: 4 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: You can shorten the hike by omitting the Tom Field Trail loop, so bring a map along for that option.
More info: Click here.

Jakes Branch County Park

Standout Trail: There are several hikes that are less than one mile for the little ones, but if you have more able, experienced hikers check out the 3.8-mile Tindey Hiking Trail. It offers great views of the Pine Barrens.
Location: Ocean County
Estimated Duration: 2.5 hours
Hours: 7:00 am to dusk
Why It’s Great: This is a great place for families to spend the day,with picnicking, a playground and a nature center all on the premises.
More info: Click here.

South Jersey

wharton state forest

Parvin State Park

Standout Trail: If you’re looking for a flat, quick trail, the Parvin Lake Trail is 3 miles of easy hiking around the perimeter of Parvin Lake.
Location: Salem County
Estimated Duration: 1.5 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: You’ll find vegetation from both pine forests and swamp hardwood forests in the park.
More info: Click here.

Wharton State Forest

Standout Trail: Take in the scenic views of the Mullica River as you embark on the 9-mile Mullica River Trail.
Location: Burlington County
Estimated Duration: 5 hours
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Why It’s Great: You start this hike at Batsto Village and end in the Atsion Recreation Area, which has picnic tables, a playground, fishing, boating and more.
More info: Click here.

Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ
Additional Images (in Order):
Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ
Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ
Jakes Branch County Park / Facebook
Wharton State Forest / Facebook

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