(Page originally by CharlesD)
New Jersey is not a state known for mountains but rather for freeways, Bruce Springsteen, beaches, and toxic waste, often in combination! This is quite unfair! The Garden State highpoint is picturesque and noble--though not anoxic--and the state is extremely proud of it. Located at the extreme northern corner of the state, High Point is not a mountain in its own right, rather the highest point in the long ridge of Kittatinny Mountain. The state has built a huge monument in the style of a classical obelisk on this point and made it a state park. The monument is comparatively huge given the height of the mountain itself and can be seen for dozens of miles in several directions.
A lone hiker on High Point
For those who prefer not to drive to the parking lot just below the summit obelisk, many hiking options are available. The famous Appalachian Trail approaches from both the north and the south and crosses to within about a quarter of a mile of the summit. From here, a short detour on the Monument Trail takes you the final 200 feet in elevation to the top of New Jersey. In addition to the Appalachian Trail, there are many other trails within and around High Point State Park. If you truly want to explore the region, a four-map set of the Kittatinny Trails is available from the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference and can be obtained through their website.
After a long respite, the renovations are finally completed and the High Point Tower is again open to visitors. The park charges $1 to climb the tower. Hours are as follows:
- Memorial Day - Labor Day - 7 days a week: 9 A.M.- 3:45 P.M.
- Labor Day - Late October Saturday and Sunday only: 9 A.M.- 3:45 P.M. (the closing weekend seems to vary from year to year)
- Late October - Memorial Day CLOSED
High Point State Park is the usual launching point for any assaults on New Jersey's mightiest peak. It is at the top of the Kittatinny Ridge on Route 23. The park headquarters are 2.7 miles north of the small town of Colesville, NJ, and 6.0 miles south of Port Jervis, NY. There is an A.T. trailhead a few hundred feet south of the park headquarters on the west side of the road. The Appalachian Trail (AT) runs past the trailhead and it is easy to follow it across the road and through a mile of forest toward the summit. After 3/4 of a mile, you will encounter a nice viewing platform. From here the summit tower should be obvious. Descend into a small swale near the paved road and continue straight where the AT bears right and down hill. From the junction it is a short steep climb up to the monument itself.
A second option for an Appalachian Trail approach is from the north off of Mountain Road. For details on this hike, see the "Routes" section of this page.
For those who wish a minimum hike, turn off Route 23 to the north near the Park Office. Pass the toll gate and follow the one-way paved road around Lake Marcia. After a mile, bear right on the road heading up to the monument. The road circles counter clockwise around the hill before reaching the monument.
For acrophobes, the lovely Lake Marcia offers an alternative to the summit with picnicing opportunities, a beach, a Nature Center and other diversions.
Since High Point is one of the State Highpoints and is easily accessible from several large metropolitan areas, it gets a lot of peakbagger traffic.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, High Point State Park collects fees to drive up the park road when the tower is open (see overview above). The fee is $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends per vehicle for New Jersey residents, $10 / $20 for out-of-state visitors. There is no charge to walk-in visitors or cyclists. Fall is perhaps the best time to visit as access is free and the leaves can be spectacular.
Additionally, there is no fee to park at the A.T. trailhead on Route 23, but overnight parkers have to register at the park office. The office closes at 4 pm, so get there before that or you're out of luck and may be towed!
Rare October snow and a splash of color give High Point a unique look.
When To Climb
Although the summit obelisk is only open during the summer and early fall, High Point State Park can be enjoyed throughout the year. The Appalachian Trail is, of course, open year round and the State Park is a popular area for cross-country skiing in the heart of winter. Roads in the vicinity of the Park are well-maintained during the snowy months.
Visitors should be careful during hunting season, however, as portions of the Park are open to hunters. Blaze Orange is suggested during the month of November.
Winter view to Port Jervis
Camping is allowed at High Point State Park. There are two A.T. trail shelters (three-wall lean-tos) within High Point State Park: High Point Shelter (1.7 miles 'north' of Route 23) and Rutherford Shelter (2.6 miles 'south' of Route 23 near a feature known as Dutch Shoe Rock). These shelters are meant for multi-day backpackers only, however, and will be crowded during thru-hiker season (July-August). There are other established camping areas within the park as well including the Sawmill Camping area on Sawmill Lake.
The open woods of New Jersey await.
Highpointers Convention 2009
High Point, New Jersey was selected by the national State Highpointers Club as the site of its annual convention for 2009. Traditionally, the Konvention (as it is known to members) is a weekend long event with group hikes, social events and a visit to the highpoint of the state chosen. The New Jersey 2009 Convention was held from July 29 through August 1, 2009 with the event being headquartered at the Best Western at Hunt's Landing in Matamoras, Pennsylvania. This marked the first time that High Point was chosen as the site of the annual festivities. For videos and stories from the 2009 convention, click here.
High Point State Park,
1480 Route 23,
Sussex, New Jersey 07461,
For cross country ski info: (973) 702-1222.