OverviewThe Highlands Trail currently runs through some of the most scenic and at times remote public lands in NJ and NY linking the Delaware and Hudson River with close to 150 miles of trails. This is a living, breathing project with the bulk of the land well marked and maintained however there still exist some road walk areas where land acquisition and or permission to blaze is still being worked. The trail is maintained by a group of hikers belonging to the NY/NJ Trail Conference. Currently the trail runs from Hunterdon County, NJ where the final connections to the Delaware require road walks and extends through to Cornwall, NY on the Hudson. Many sections through the Newark Watershed are about as remote as you can get for this region. Eventually the trail will connect into Eastern PA and CT.
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Getting ThereThere are numerous trail heads that allow you to do anything from a 2 mile jaunt through the woods through a 2 week through hike. You can find major trail heads at Mahlon Dickerson Park by Saffin Pond, Ryker Lake in Sparta, NJ, Canistear Road and Route 23 in Jefferson, Weiss Ecology Center in Ringwood, NJ, Stephen State Park in Hacketstown, Allamuchy State Park in Byram, Saxton Falls in Allamuchy and many other great locations. The best way to track trail heads and changes to existing trail sections is via the NYNJTC website Highlands Trail Descriptions.
Route DescriptionAs described earlier the route traverses from the Delaware to Hudson River across numerous paths, detailed descriptions of each section are provided at the link above. The route makes use of road walks, canal paths, state park trails, woods roads and single track rugged hiking paths. It can be as flat as a road walk and and as difficult as a minor class 2 scramble. There are boulder fields and streams, open fields and ridge line views, plenty of historical sites near by with old structures and mines ... The best way to explore is to find a short section in a familiar area and start connecting the teal diamond blazes.
Essential GearFor day hikes you can get away with a pair of sneakers and a water bottle. The current trail supervisor has hiked end to end with Teva's. If you plan on doing a multi day hike bring water filtration, sleeping bag, tent, food, solid footwear and lots of energy. One through hiker has been quoted as saying that the HT goes up hill in both directions. Hiking poles will make you happy in the rockier and steeper sections. There are some sustained climbs at the NE portion of NJ and in NY. If you plan on through hiking think about water sources and camp grounds. You'll also want to bring a bear bag and some means of deterent since this is a very busy area for black bear. Copperhead and Rattlesnake are not uncommon on this trail too so plan accordingly.
External LinksHT Web Site
NYNJ Trail Conference Site
Camping for Through HikersWest to East->
There are not a lot of sanctioned options for camping on this trek. Below are tried and true spots that you can use with various levels of amenities. Please understand that wilderness camping is not a viable option because of land usage restrictions and wildlife risk.
Stephens State Park
Mahlon Dickerson Reservation
Wildcat AT Shelter