The Highlands of New York and New Jersey
The New York - New Jersey Highlands are a geological formation composed mostly of precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock. Its extent runs from the Delaware River near Musconetcong Mountain, northeast through the Skylands Region of New Jersey along the Bearfort Ridge and the Ramapo Mountains, Sterling Forest, Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks
in New York, to the Fishkill Ridge and then extending accross Dutchess County in NY to the Taconic Mountains along the Connecticut border.. The most popular and arguably most scenic area is known as the Hudson Highlands as it is disected by the Hudson River. The area itself is part of the Mid-Atlantic Highlands that run from Maryland to Connecticut. The area covered in this page would be the extent through New Jersey and New York.
The Highlands of New York and New Jersey are very unique. The mountains and hills are made up of old eroded mountains and glacial moraines. This area is the southern extent of the last ice age and the mountains show the effects. The average height of the mountain tops is between 1,000 ft. and 1,500 ft. These are near the lowest mountains along the Appalachian Chain (the Appalachian Trail reaches its lowest elevation here as it crosses the Hudson River at Bear Mountain Bridge) a direct result of the glaciers. The most dramatic glacial result is in the Hudson Highlands area,
where the glaciers carved through
the mountains to allow the Hudson River to pass through the peaks. Here the river is narrow, deep, and the mountain sides come straight out of the water and climb steeply to their summits. This section of the river as it effected by ocean tides and is partly salt water is a true Fjord and one of the very few that exist on the East Coast.
The Highlands region is also a very historic area. Many important battles and events of the Revolutionary War occured in the area. Most notably the betrayel of Benedict Arnold.
Western New Jersey has lowest sections of the Highlands in Warren County near the Delaware River with the average elevation on the tops of ridges just below 1,000 ft. Point Mountain is a good example. As the hills run Northeast through Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, and Bergen Counties the mountain tops reach above 1,400 ft. with the highest point of the Highlands in NJ being Wawayanda Mt. For the most part the climbs to the top of the ridges are vey gentle. The Highlands are 23 miles wide and 1,300 feet high between Vernon and Mahwah in the north, diminishing to 8 miles wide and 500 feet high at Phillipsburg in the south.
In New York, the Highlands have reached there maximum height. Most of the mountain tops are around 1,400 ft. But the tallest of the NY/NJ Highlands is the summit of Brace Mountain, in the Northeast corner of Dutchess County, at 704 m (2,311 feet) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level, along the Hudson. It is near the Hudson River where the highlands are most impressive. They rise over 1,000 feet from the river and in places the climb can be quite steep. Arguably the best hike in all the highlands is Breakneck Ridge.
Parks in New Jersey
Wawayanda State Park
The quiet charm of Wawayanda appeals to hikers, campers, swimmers and boaters. Forested hills surround Lake Wawayanda creating a restful backdrop for canoeists, boaters and fisherman, while steep mountains challenge casual as well as serious hikers. A twenty-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, while the top of Wawayanda Mountain offers sensational views. More than forty miles of trails are marked in the park.
Kittatinny Valley State Park
Glacial lakes, limestone outcroppings, former railroads, and a small airport are features of Kittatinny Valley State Park. Hunting, hiking, mountain biking, birding, and horseback riding are popular activities. The four lakes offer fishing, boating, and kayaking opportunities.
Allamuchy Mountain State Park
The Musconetcong River, with some of the best trout fishing in the state, winds through Allamuchy Mountain State Park. Several miles of trails crisscross through the forests and marshlands of the park. Rock climbing is also allowed on the cliffs of Waterloo Road. Be careful to climb on state land. The boundry is not clear.
Jenney Jump State Park
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.
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
A section of Bearfort Ridge reaches into Hewitt State Forest, offering hikers a challenging climb with a rewarding view. 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. Hemlock and oak are the dominant species of this relatively undisturbed forest.
Ramapo Mountain State Forest
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. The forest borders the Ramapo Mountain Reservation, which is part of the Bergen County Park System.
Norvin Green State Forest
The undisturbed forest and rugged terrain of Norvin Green offers sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. It is home to an extensive trail system built from old logging roads. Several trails link up with public and private facilities. With hills ranging from 400 to 1,300 feet in elevation, Norvin Green provides the avid hiker with scenic vistas, including the New York skyline, Burnt Meadow Brook and Lake Sonoma. The property is accessible by foot only.
Bergen County Parks System
The Bergen County Parks System (BCPS) opperates many parks in Bergen County. The parks offer hiking and skiing.
Hunterdon County Parks Department
The Hunterdon County Parks Department over see's all the parks in Hunterdon County. There are many opprotuinities for hiking, XC skiing, and hunting.
Parks in New York
Hudson Highlands State Park
This mostly undeveloped preserve of nearly 6,000 acres, is called Hudson Highlands State Park. It consists of a series of separate parcels of land stretching from Peekskill, north to Dennings Point in Beacon. The park is perfect for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and birding.
The park's hiking trail network includes terrain that varies from easy to challenging. Trail maps can be obtained at the Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park office. The park's most well known trail – Breakneck Ridge was rated by Newsweek as one of the top 10 day hikes in America. The 5.5 mile Breakneck Ridge trail rises 1,250 feet in only a ¾ mile stretch.
Please note that camping and use of fire are prohibited throughout the park.LINK
Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area
The Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area, is owned by The Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc., and managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, covers 1,030 acres in the town of Fishkill. Scenic Hudson has recently purchased an adjoining parcel of 495 acres, as well as 15 acres at the base of North Beacon Mountain. LINK
Madam Brett Park
This 12-acre park in Beacon, Dutchess County, connects to the "Beacon Shoreline Trail" providing a link between Dennings Point, Long Dock Beacon and the Beacon train station. The park features one mile of trails along the Fishkill Creek lead to scenic overlooks of tidal marshes and Tioronda Falls.
Mount Beacon is the most visible summit for miles around, providing the defining backdrop for the local communities. Its prominence made the mountain an important factor in the Revolutionary War, when George Washington's troops set signal fires (beacons) to communicate information about British troop movements.
An incline railway, the steepest of its kind in the world at the time, carried visitors to the heights of the mountain for dining, dancing and enjoying spectacular views, from 1902 until the late 1970s.
Mount Beacon Park was created on land preserved by Scenic Hudson. Totaling 234 acres, the parcels were purchased in 1995 and 1998, respectively. The latter parcel, proposed for a residential subdivision before Scenic Hudson acquired it, contains the remnants of the lower portion of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway.LINK
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park
This 14,086 acre park, covering land in Putnam and Dutchess counties, boasts hiking trails, a beach, picnic areas, campground, and many opportunities for boating, hunting, fishing, and birding. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park.LINK
Taconic State Park
Taconic State Park is located along 11 miles of the Taconic Mountain Range, sharing a border with Massachusetts and Connecticut.LINK
Pawling Nature Reserve
A diverse natural community along 1,053-foot-tall Hammersly Ridge. Duell Hollow Brook cascades down the rocks and The Appalachian Trail winds through the area. On top are views of the Great Swamp and Harlem Valley below. LINK
The Great Swamp
NY States second largest non tidal wetland. Situated in New York's eastern Putnam and Dutchess Counties, the Great Swamp and its 63,000-acre watershed stretch 20 miles. Located less than 70 miles from New York City, this vast and fragile wetland provides numerous benefits to residents of the Harlem Valley, including drinking water, flood control, recreation, open space, and wildlife habitat. LINK
Depot Hill Multi Use Area
This 260 acre multiple use area is distinctive for hosting part of the Appalachian Trail. There are several parking lots with unofficial trails for hiking and wildlife enjoyment. Possible recreational pursuits for this area include, hunting, hiking, wildlife and bird observation, and camping.LINK
An area in Danger
"The Highlands have been recognized as "a landscape of national significance," by the US Forest Service, and as a "Special Resource Area" by the State of New Jersey, vital open spaces in the Highlands are increasingly being lost to suburban sprawl, including over 5,000 acres annually in the NY-NJ Highlands alone. Unless bold steps are taken soon to protect the critical treasures of the Highlands, the future of this region of water, beauty and life is in jeopardy." Quoted from the Highlands Coalition
Appalachian Trailcoming soon
External LinksNy/NJ Trail Conference
Fishkill Ridge Caretakers
The Highlands Coalition
The Highlaands Regional Information Sysytem
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Page CreditsThis page was originally created and started by RobA. His love for hiking and appreciation for the NY/NJ area has made this possible. Credit is due to him for getting things rolling. Hopefully I can continue to make this page what it is meant to be and what Rob wanted it to be.