Interested in visiting the highest point in New Jersey? High Point State Park is a great day trip destination with a monument at its peak. Explore lookout points, beaches, play areas along Lake Marcia and great trail hiking including the Application Trail. It’s an easy hour and fifteen minute drive on Route 23 North from the Montclair area with fun winding roads. The scenery is amazing this time of year and the roadsides are full of bountiful farm stands, apple picking, vineyards, and eateries.
Driving into the park, follow signs for the Scenic Route. This shows off the lush landscape hugging the hillside. A quick 3-5 minute hike from the side of the road, you will find a wonderful well built viewing platform showing the postcard like view of the High Point Monument. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, and a wind breaker. At this altitude with nothing surrounding you, you do feel the wind and maps will fly! My kids brought their compass and walking sticks for the full expedition effect.
After you’ve taken in the panoramic view you can hop back in the car for a easy drive to the peak or you can hike the ½ mile trail that runs from the platform to the monument. When you arrive at the monument grounds the views, sitting areas, and mounted binoculars make it clear why this is a great destination spot. Forgot your quarters for the binoculars? No worries. There is a refreshment area to get change, buy snacks and fuel up before heading up to the monument itself.
The colossal 220-foot limestone obelisk was built in 1928-30 by Anthony R. Kuser, a businessman who donated the land for the monument and dedicated it to all war veterans. The monument is a structure to be reckoned with. Its base sits at 1,803 feet above sea level, the highest point in New Jersey. If you are in good condition, take a hike up the 291 stairs. This stairwell climb is free to kids 12 and under but will cost you $1 otherwise. This climb has two rewards.
First you’ll get to travel on an M.C. Esher like stairwell (be sure to look up), and second you’ll get an amazing view from the surrounding vista at the apex of the monument. The climb is challenging but our kids loved it and it was worth the effort to make it to the top.
If you need more adventure there are plenty of places to hike and camp, including the Appalachian Trail. Some other treasures you can find at the 15,654 acre State Park include: look out points, 50 hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, boating, fishing and even a small pond with a sandy beach for kids to play on.
On the drive back there are many farm stands selling seasonal local vegetables and fruits. But if you and your family are hungry for a full sit-down meal, Tony’s Grill and Pub, on Route 23 in the city of Stockholm has excellent Italian cuisine including stromboli, amazing seafood pastas and a great kids menu.
High Point State Park
Location: 1480 Route 23 , Sussex, NJ 07461, (973) 875-4800
Hours: Open daily 8 am – 8 pm
Cost: Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day: Fee per vechicle Free all other times, including right now.
Difficulty: 3 out of 10
Age: Great for ages 3 and up. Younger hikers need to be assisted or carried.
Gear: Non-skid shoes, binoculars, warm clothing, and a camera of course. Water and snacks are recommended.