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High Point State Park – Monument Trail

High Point State Park

Hike to the highest elevation in the state of New Jersey – 1803’ – and climb the monument’s 220 stairs for a view of the surrounding areas.

Park Summary: Located in Sussex County – all the way up in the northwest corner of NJ – this park is worth a visit even without doing a hike.

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

This hike goes through an Atlantic white cedar swamp, which looks more like the Pacific Northwest than NJ. At 1500’, it is the highest known swamp of this kind. There is also swimming at Lake Marcia.This is a popular area – with good reason – so don’t expect solitude in the monument/lake areas.

Mileage: 7.1 roundtrip for this route. Shorter versions of this hike:

  • Monument Trail loop is about 3.7 miles and starts from the end of the parking lot for the monument.
  • Cedar Swamp/Kuser Trail – 2.3 mile loop. Trail head is from end of Kuser Road within the park (we didn’t use this trail head, this info is from a book, so you may want to double-check with the visitor center on this one)

Map: Pick up a trail map at the visitor center, or print our scan of the High Point Trail Map. For a more detailed map, purchase the Kittatinny Trails - this route uses Map #18.

Recommended books: High Point trails can be found in Kittatinny Trails and the The New Jersey Walk Book.

Parking: N41 18.159 W74 40.070
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.

High Point T-Shirt

You’ve done the hike,
now get the T-shirt!

Large hiker parking lot for this trail is 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, Lake Marcia, or to access other trail heads to make shorter loops, you’ll need to bear right past the first 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, just north of the parking area for the AT trailhead. Also, in the parking lot for the monument.

Hike Directions: The Appalachian Trail runs through this park and this route follows it 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.

0.0 – From the parking lot, follow the BLUE connector trail near the trail sign

0.2 – Turn RIGHT onto Iris (RED DOT on WHITE). This marking was not obvious, the trail just turned to the right.

0.3 – Turn RIGHT to now follow the Appalachian Trail (“AT” – WHITE) North to the driveway for the visitor center. Cross the park road. There is an AT marker across the street. Walk briefly across the grass to the AT sign at the edge of the woods.

The trail is quite rocky and rugged and starts a gradual climb toward the Monument. Follow the WHITE blazes. (it’s well marked and there are no other paths)

A raised observation platform along the trail offers 360° views of NJ to the east, The Delaware Water Gap to the south, PA to the west and the Catskills to the north. There are other views along the trail, and the monument will come into view as well.

1.3 -  is a junction with the Monument Trail. Start following the RED/GREEN Monument Trail (half red, half green circular marker), straight in front of you. Here, the AT turns right, and the Monument Trail comes in from the left (you will end up here later)

The Monument Trail now starts climbing up towards the Monument. Cross over the park road and continue steeply on the path to arrive at the Monument at about 1.6 miles.

Nice views in this area even if you don’t climb to the top. We were here only once, quite a few years ago, and it was closed for renovation so this was the first time we got to climb it. If I recall, this area gets quite crowded but we arrived shortly after opening and had the place to ourselves.

When you are ready, walk to the very end of the parking lot (pass restrooms on your left) to pick up the RED/GREEN Monument Trail again. There is a trail sign.

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

2.8 -  the trail crosses another trail. The markings were not clear here. Continue straight here, across a small wooden bridge. It appears not to be marked. (To the left would take you to the Cedar Swamp Loop also, to the right is Shawnagunk Ridge trail and NY. Any AQUA blazes are for that trail)

The trail is unmarked for an unusually long time; then a RED/GREEN marker appears on a tree on the left.

3.3 – turn left onto Cedar Swamp loop. This junction is unclear: there is a trail sign once you turn left and walk in a bit. (You will return to this junction once done the loop. Straight here will continue on Monument Trail)

The trail sign indicates you can go left or right. This route heads right and skirts along the cedar bog. It’s a lovely area, and really does feel more like the Pacific Northwest than NJ.  Continue following the loop around.

At the woods road, turn LEFT. (right should take you to the park road)

4.2 – Turn LEFT at the next junction (straight is the Shawnagunk Trail and back to an earlier junction).

Cross over the bog on a long boardwalk; very interesting area.

4.5 – Look for a trail on your RIGHT at about 4.5 miles – and take this out be back where you entered the loop.

Turn LEFT and go uphill a bit. This is the RED/GREEN monument trail again. Follow this along a ridge, with views on the right of Port Jervis, NY and PA. The trail is moderately rocky with minor elevation changes. It is quite close and overgrown with scrub oak (short little oak tree bushes)

4.6 – On the right, pass the junction where the Shawnagunk trail heads off.

The trail will start downhill a bit as it leaves the ridge and enters a lovely forest. The trail curves to the right and goes over a small bridge.

5.3 – On the right, pass the start of the Steeny Kill Trail (BLUE).

Continue straight on RED/GREEN Monument trail. The trail starts to head back uphill.

5.6 – Arrive at the park road. The nature center building is in front of you. Turn LEFT and walk down the 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.

Look for the RED/GREEN markers, the trail skirts the lake on the left side.

5.8 -  the RED/GREEN trail turns LEFT and enters the woods, heading uphill.

Cross the park road again, and continue following RED/GREEN.

5.9 – ,RED/GREEN trail hits the AT where you were earlier today. Turn RIGHT onto the AT and retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

BONUS: Heading home on Rt. 23 in Sussex, there is a Dairy Queen on the left hand side. We recommend the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard.

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

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