Hike to a panoramic view from Blue Mountain in Stokes State Forest via the Red Maple Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and Jacobs Ladder.
8.5 miles, mix of woods road and rocky rooty trail. Short steep section over a rock slab up and down on Red Maple, another longer one downhill on Jacob’s Ladder. Steep up/down to Blue Mountain. Stream crossing.
- Shorter: 7.0 – Skipping Blue Mountain removes 1.5 but misses the big viewpoint.
- Longer: The Appalachian Trail keeps going and going…
- Alternate: Red Maple only. It’s 5 miles one-way from the lot to Tillman Ravine.
- Alternate: Loop on Red Maple starting from Tillman Ravine.
- Nearby: Tillman Ravine, Blue Mountain Loop – Lower, Appalachian Trail – Culvers Gap to Blue Mountain
Our two cents:
The view from Blue Mountain always makes a nice destination and this route incorporates a mix of trails in Stokes.
Kittatinny Trails or the Stokes park map. There are some minor differences between them regarding the Steffen and Shay trails.
None that we know of.
Parking: N41.18410° W74.81167°
29 Struble Rd, Sandyston, NJ 07826.
Rt 206 N into Stokes State Forest, pass the entrance for the park office on the right. Next L onto Struble Road. In about a half mile Struble turns to the right at large dirt parking area on the left, for Lake Ashroe Rec Area.
Porta-john in lot.
Overview: Red Maple (RED LEAF) – Brinks Road/Shay Trail – Appalachian Trail [WHITE] – Jacobs Ladder (BLUE/GRAY) – Red Maple (RED LEAF)
0.0 – From the parking lot, follow the dirt driveway in between the wood fence at the “no vehicle access…” sign.
Start following Red Maple (RED LEAF) as it skirts around a scout camp and then heads into the woods and starts uphill.
There is a short steep section over a rock slab.
1.1 – Follow Red Maple (RED LEAF) as it turns RIGHT at a large rock pile with a painted red rock.
[Unmarked trail goes straight. Steffen (Black/Gray) goes to the left. On the TC map this is the end of Steffen, while on the Stokes park map Steffen continues to the right as well.]
1.6 – Follow Red Maple (RED LEAF) as it turns LEFT onto a woods road.
[The woods road also goes right, marked as Coss Road on the TC map.
1.7 – In a small clearing follow Red Maple (RED LEAF) as it turns RIGHT onto another woods road. You might hear the nearby stream.
[An unmarked woods road also goes left. The Jacob’s Ladder trail is a few steps in this direction and is the return route but we didn’t notice it at all.
Alternate: Reverse the loop by taking Jacob’s Ladder for a steep up instead of down]
Red Maple (RED LEAF) follows a mostly level woods road, eventually passing a wet area off on the right where frogs and birds were making all sorts of a ruckus the day we hiked.
3.1 – Turn LEFT at the gate and now follow a woods road.
This is marked as Brink Road or Shay Trail depending on the map, and we don’t recall seeing any blazes.
[Red Maple (RED LEAF) goes straight and continues to Tillman Ravine. Brink Road (unmarked) goes off to the right]
Soon, pass the Brink Road Shelter/outhouse off on the right.
3.3 – Turn RIGHT and now follow Appalachian Trail [WHITE] uphill to the summit of Blue Mountain and some panoramic views.
4.1 – Panoramic views from Blue Mountain.
Turn around and head back on Appalachian Trail [WHITE].
There are some rocks off on the left that is our usual break spot and turn around point, but turn around whenever – the AT just keeps going.
4.8 – Continue straight on Appalachian Trail [WHITE] through the intersection with Brink Road from before.
5.9 – The first of two limited viewpoints on the right – the side trails to them can be hard to spot. They face the opposite direction over New Jersey than Blue Mountain does.
Continue on Appalachian Trail [WHITE].
6.1 – Second limited view. Continue on Appalachian Trail [WHITE].
6.4 – Turn LEFT to now follow Jacobs Ladder (BLUE/GRAY).
[Appalachian Trail [WHITE] continues straight, all the way to Maine.]
Jacobs Ladder (BLUE/GRAY) heads steeply downhill, with a section over a long rock slab (with “ladder” in the name I was expecting worse but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated.)
6.8 – Cross a stream at the end of Jacobs Ladder (BLUE/GRAY).
This looked to be flowing more than usual the day we hiked it (because all it does is rain in New Jersey anymore) and involved a bit of leap across.
Once across the stream, start following Red Maple (RED LEAF) again by turning LEFT a few steps and then RIGHT.
Be mindful of the intersection here: after crossing the stream you on a woods road… to the right it’s unmarked and to the left is Red Maple (RED LEAF) which splits in two directions.
Be sure to turn LEFT then RIGHT for the correct direction on Red Maple or you’ll be retracing your route back to Blue Mountain.
6.9 – Continue on Red Maple (RED LEAF) as it turns RIGHT.
[A woods road continues ahead, marked as Coss Road on the TC map.]
7.4 – Continue on Red Maple (RED LEAF) as it turns LEFT at the rock cairn.
[Steffen (Black/Gray) goes straight. Unmarked is to the right.]
Follow Red Maple (RED LEAF) back to the lot.