High Point State Park – Monument Trail

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Hike 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.

7.9 or 4.0 miles.Varies between very rocky and smoother trail. Some uphill to get to the monument.

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 stair 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.

Updated: 8/2020 – Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 7/2018 – Changed link to the new map now on park site instead of our older scanned PDF. 10/6/14 – re-hiked, description, photos, and GPX updated.


Map:

Pick up a trail map at the visitor center, or print from the park site. But you’d really be better off with the detailed Kittatinny Trails.

Books: 

This route now appears in Best Day Hikes in New Jersey. A nice short loop is in Hike of the Week, and another can be found in Hiking New Jersey. Very short hike is in Best Day Hikes Near New York City. Trail details can be found in Kittatinny Trails and the The New Jersey Walk Book


Parking: 41.302650, -74.667833

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.]

There are multiple parking lots at High Point:

This route starts at the large “Appalachian Trail Hiker Parking” lot on Rt 23 once in the park, on the left, just after two stone pillars. 

Just past this on Rt 23 is the visitor center lot but that has a 2-hr parking limit so you can’t park there for hiking. Stop there for info and restrooms and then return to the hiker lot.

No fees at either of these lots.

To start within the park at the monument parking lot or Lake Marcia instead, bear right just past the visitor center for the park road. For these lots, there is a fee between Memorial Day through Labor Day, see NJ State Park Pass.


Restrooms:

At the visitor center, north of the parking area. Times vary by season, check park site. Also, in the parking lot for the monument.


Hike Directions:

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)

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.

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). 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.

[AT South is to the left, straight is Mashipacong (YELLOW).

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

Appalachian Trail sign with an arrow

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.

Rocky Appalachian Trail surrounded by fall foliage

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.

High Point monument on top of a hill seen from the viewing platform along the Appalachian Trail
View from the platform of NJ, PA and in the distance, NY's Catskills

1.6 – Now follow the Monument Trail (RED/GREEN) straight.

[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.

More views of the monument on the approach.

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

View of mountains in PA from the parking lot

Views from the top of the monument, towards the Delaware Water Gap and over New Jersey and Pennsylvania:

View over Lake Marcia
Looking down on foliage covered hills of NJ and PA

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.

Monument Trail sign at the end of the parking lot

Looking back at the monument from the continuation of the Monument Trail:

High Point monument at the end of a parking lot filled with cars

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

RED/GREEN trail with fall foliage

View from a side path on the right, looking over New Jersey:

View over New Jersey with bright red foliage

View from a side path on the left, looking into Pennsylvania:

View across Pennsylvania offall foliage covered hills

3.1 – Cross a small wooden bridge to continue on Monument (RED/GREEN).

[Left is SRT (Shawangunk Ridge (AQUA))  and leads to Cedar Swamp also. Right is an unmarked trail.]

3.6 – Turn LEFT and now follow the Cedar Swamp (unblazed) loop.

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.

Cedar Swamp Loop
Cedar swamp with large ferns

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. 

4.6 – Turn LEFT at the next junction [straight is SRT (BLUE) and leads back to an earlier junction].

Cross over the bog on a long boardwalk.

Long boardwalk over a swamp
Boardwalk over a cedar swamp

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

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.

View of Port Jervis, PA from the Monument Trail
Zoom into Port Jervis NY

The trail is moderately rocky with minor elevation changes and lined with scrub oak (short little oak tree bushes).

Scrub oak turning colors along the Monument Trail

4.9 – Continue on Monument (RED/GREEN). [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] The trail starts to head back uphill.

6.0 – Arrive at the park road near the nature center.

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.

Lake Marcia with tall grasses in the foreground

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

Lake Marcia
Monument seen from Lake Marcia

6.2 –  Monument (RED/GREEN) markers appear again, 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. 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