High Point State Park – Monument Trail

High Point State ParkHike the Appalachian Trail to the highest elevation in NJ, climb an obelisk, enjoy vast views of NJ, PA, and NY, plus explore an Atlantic cedar swamp.

Our two cents: Located in the farthest northwest corner of NJ, this park packs in plenty of views even without doing a hike. This is a popular area so don’t expect solitude in the monument/lake areas.

In addition to the trail network, there is High Point Monument, a memorial to NJ veterans that also marks the highest elevation in the state of NJ, at 1803’. The monument is hollow like the Washington Monument, and the obelisk’s 220 stairs can be climbed for a view of the surrounding areas (open seasonally).

For those who aren’t keen on heights or climbing steps in towers: the first short flight is a spiral stairs with open grated steps that leads to a large landing; after that is a narrow staircase with closed steps. The top of the monument is enclosed, with 3 smallish windows that are a bit high to see out of (you’ll need to lift the kids). The glass is a little smudgy – check our pics to see the view.

This hike goes through an Atlantic white cedar swamp and at 1500’ is the highest known swamp of this kind. There is also swimming at Lake Marcia.

Trail surface: Varies between very rocky and smoother trail. Some uphill to get to the monument.

  • This route: 7.9 miles
  • Shorter: 4.0 miles – from the AT lot to the monument and back
  • Short: 3.0 miles – from the AT lot to the viewing platform and back
  • Shorter, variation: 3.7 miles. Start at the Monument parking and just follow the RED/GREEN blazes for nice views along the ridge then loop around to Lake Marcia and back.

Updated 10/6/14 – re-hiked, description, photos, and GPX updated.

Map: Pick up a trail map at the visitor center, or print our scan of the High Point Trail Map. But you’d really be better off with the detailed Kittatinny Trails.

Recommended books: High Point trails can be found in Kittatinny Trails and the The New Jersey Walk Book. A nice short loop is in Hike of the Week, and another can be found in Hiking New Jersey.

Parking: N41 18.159 W74 40.070
80W to Rt. 15 N to Rt 565 to Rt 23 N, or a bit more scenic and a tad longer: Rt 287 N to Rt 206 N. When Rt 206 and 15 meet, Rt 206 turns into 565. Take 565 to 23. Turn left onto 23 and follow it into High Point. [Roughly 1.75 hrs. from central NJ.]

Large “Appalachian Trail Hiker Parking” lot on Rt 23 in the park, on the left, right after two stone pillars. (2 hr pkg limit at visitor center lot, so you can’t park there for hiking).

For the monument parking lot or Lake Marcia instead, bear right past the visitor center.

NOTE: Fee is charged Memorial Day through Labor Day, BUT there is no fee to park at this hiker lot, only if you go into the main park. Info on the State Park Annual Parking Pass.

Restrooms: At the visitor center, which is just north of the Appalachian Trail parking area (drive to it and then return to the hiker lot or the trail goes by the visitor center too). Opens at 9am. Also, in the parking lot for the monument.

Hike Directions: This route follows The Appalachian Trail for about a mile before picking up the Monument Trail loop. Within that loop, it takes the Cedar Swamp Loop. So this hike is kind of like a lollipop loop within a lollipop loop.

Overview: Connector (BLUE) – Iris (RED DOT on WHITE) – Appalachian Trail (“AT” – WHITE) – Monument (RED/GREEN) – Cedar Swamp (unblazed) – Monument (RED/GREEN) – Appalachian Trail (“AT” – WHITE) – Iris (RED DOT on WHITE) – Connector (BLUE)

0.0 – From the parking lot, follow the trail near the trail sign. BLUE blazes are visible a few steps in.

0.2 – Turn RIGHT onto Iris (RED DOT on WHITE). GPS: IRIS/BlueConnector. This marking was not obvious, the trail just turned to the right and joined the IRIS trail.

0.3 – Turn RIGHT to now follow the Appalachian Trail (“AT” – WHITE) north – may need to turn to spot the blazes. GPS: AT/IRIS jct. [AT South is to the left, straight is Mashipacong (YELLOW).

Follow the AT (WHITE) to the driveway for the visitor center.

0.5 – Cross the park road to an AT sign at the edge of the road. Walk briefly across the grass to the AT sign at the edge of the woods. Continue following the AT (WHITE). The rocky and rugged trail starts a gradual climb through the woods, eventually the Monument will come into view.

1.5 – A raised observation platform along the trail offers 360° views of NJ and of the High Point Monument plus the Delaware Water Gap to the south, PA to the west, and the Catskills to the north. GPS: ViewingPlatform

1.6 – Now follow the Monument Trail (RED/GREEN) straight. GPS: AT/MonumentTr [The AT (WHITE) turns right. Monument (RED/GREEN) comes in from the left – you will end up here later.]

Monument (RED/GREEN) climbs up towards the Monument. Cross over the park road and continue steeply up the path.

1.9 – Arrive at the monument. There are fantastic 360° views from this point even if you don’t climb to the top. GPS: HighPointMonument

To continue, walk to the very end of the parking lot away from the monument (passing restrooms on the left) to pick up the RED/GREEN Monument Trail at a trail sign. GPS:MonumentTrailSign

The trail is pleasant, easy and mostly level with some short paths to views on either side.

3.1 – Continue straight, across a small wooden bridge with an easy-to-miss trail marker for the Monument (RED/GREEN) on the bridge. GPS: SRT/Monument [Left is SRT (Shawangunk Ridge – BLUE)  and leads to Cedar Swamp also. Right is an unmarked trail.]

3.6 – Turn LEFT and now follow the Cedar Swamp (unblazed) loop. GPS: Monument/CedarSwamp This junction is unclear: there is a trail sign once you turn left and walk in a bit.

The sign indicates you can go left or right on Cedar Swamp, or turn left for SRT. For this route, turn RIGHT and follow the woods road as skirts along the cedar bog.

4.3 – Follow the Cedar Swamp trail to the LEFT at the John Dryden Kuser plaque and when a woods road comes in from the right. GPS: KuserPlaque

4.6 – Turn LEFT at the next junction [straight is SRT (BLUE) and leads back to an earlier junction]. GPS: CedarSwamp/SRT Cross over the bog on a long boardwalk.

4.8 – Complete the loop and turn RIGHT, walking a few steps back out to Monument (RED/GREEN). GPS: Monument/CedarSwamp

Turn LEFT and continue on Monument (RED/GREEN). Head uphill and along a ridge, with views on the right of Port Jervis, NY and PA. The trail is moderately rocky with minor elevation changes and lined with scrub oak (short little oak tree bushes).

4.9 – Continue on Monument (RED/GREEN). GPS: SRT2/Monument [SRT (BLUE) leaves to the right]

The trail heads downhill a bit as it leaves the ridge before curving to the right and going over a small bridge.

5.7 – Continue on Monument (RED/GREEN) [Steeny Kill (BLUE) is on the right]. GPS: SteenyKill/Monument The trail starts to head back uphill.

6.0 – Arrive at the park road near the nature center. GPS: ParkRoad/Monument Follow Monument (RED/GREEN) along the park road toward Lake Marcia. There is a bench at the end of the lake which makes a nice place to stop and enjoy the view.

Follow the gravel trail as it skirts the end of the lake and continues on the other side, unmarked.

6.2 –  Monument (RED/GREEN) markers appear again GPS: MonumentTrail, turn LEFT and re-enter the woods, heading uphill.

Cross the park road again, and continuing on Monument (RED/GREEN).

6.3 – Junction with the AT from earlier today. GPS: AT/MonumentTr Turn RIGHT onto AT (WHITE) and retrace the route back to the parking lot. [reverse the description from mile 1.6 above]

Hiked: 10/5/14.
Hiked: 5/31/09. Trail Blog: “High Point State Park – Monument Trail