Nice views of rural Northern NJ from Sunrise Mountain and along the Appalachian Trail, plus hiking through a dense forest.
NOTE: A 17-mile Blue Mountain loop has been created, much of it using existing trails such as Swenson and Cartright. This has changed some trail names/colors and the old blazes will be removed soon (sometime after Aug 2017). We’ve not had a chance to re-hike or revise the directions below to reflect this, but the route should still be the same, just blazed differently – so be sure to use updated maps.
8.7 miles. Moderate – to difficult, typical rugged north Jersey trail surface. The AT is not as rocky here as it is closer to the Gap. Steady uphill on the Cartwright Trail as well as being quite rocky. Stony Brook can be wet in areas and has several stream crossings via rocks or logs.
- Shorter – Extensive trail system, use the trail map to create shorter options.
- Longer – To make the loop 10 miles, pass Stony Book and take the next trail to the right instead, Tower (GREEN), in the description below.
- Casual Day Out – Combine a drive to the view at Sunrise and walk down the Appalachian Trail for a bit, or add in a short hike at Tillman Ravine and stop at Buttermilk Falls.
Updates: 8/2017: Park map link. 10/4/15: Revised the directions to exclude the Station Trail (Light Green) which is closed and being removed from maps; continue on Stony Brook (Brown) instead. Thanks to Jessica O. for the updated info. 10/7/15 – updated the GPX. 10/14/12: Description updated, a new set of photos and GPS coordinates added.
Map: The 2017 version of the Kittatinny Trails includes the Blue Mountain trail changes. The park map is color-coded showing the old and new trail markings.
Books: Detailed trail descriptions found in Kittatinny Trails and the The New Jersey Walk Book. A similar but longer 9.5 mile route is in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: New York City. A 5.9 mile loop in Stokes that does not take in Sunrise Mountain can be found in Hiking New Jersey.
Parking: N41 12.175 W74 46.403 [Stony Lake Parking]
206 North until you enter Stokes, pass Rt 636 and then turn right for the park entrance. Drive down Coursen Rd and make a right at the end to get to the trail lot. (Follow signs for Stony Lake)
Fee: Charged from Memorial to Labor day. Info on the NJ State Park Pass.
Restrooms: At the Visitor Center. Also at Stony Lake (walk up the hill from the parking lot) from Memorial to Labor Day. Around halfway through the hike is an outhouse at the sunrise mountain viewpoint parking lot. The lot is above the trail slightly, on the right.
Hike Directions: Overview: BROWN/GREEN to Swenson (RED) to Cartwright (BROWN-RED) to Appalachian Trail (WHITE) to Stony Brook (BROWN).
0.0 – Look for the trail kiosk (large wooden sign), that marks the beginning of the BROWN and GREEN trails and start down the wide path beyond a metal gate.
0.1 – Veer LEFT to now follow Swenson (RED). GPS: Swenson [BROWN and GREEN continue straight and will be the return route].
1.9 – Turn RIGHT to continue on Swenson (RED). [Tinsley (YELLOW) goes straight.] GPS: Tinsley/Swenson
2.3 – Arrive at a cabin. Continue following Swenson (RED) – look for a sign post across the open area near the woodpile shelter. [There are also blazes for a GREEN connector trail, off to the left]. GPS: SpringCabin
2.9 – Turn RIGHT and now follow Cartwright (BROWN/RED). [Swenson (RED) goes straight]. GPS: Swenson/Cartwright
3.8 – Cross Sunrise Mountain Road and continue on Cartwright (BROWN/RED), which then heads uphill.
4.0 – Arrive at a slanted slab of rock that opens up to a wide view. To the north is the High Point Monument in the distance (on the left, when going up the hill). It helps to get up on a rock and peek around/through the brush in order to spot it. GPS: CartwrightView
4.3 – Turn RIGHT and now follow the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). GPS: Cartwright/AT It’s mostly level along the ridge.
4.4 – Short side trail to a very obscured view. Continue on Appalachian Trail (WHITE). GPS: ViewPartial
4.5 – Pass the parking lot for Sunrise Mountain view point (it’s above and to the right), keep straight up stone steps, and then on the left is a short trail to a view from Sunrise Mountain, with a bench. GPS: SunriseView
4.7 – Large pavilion with benches with a view on both sides, however, it is partially obscured with brush. Continue following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – just after the pavilion, it veers to the left if facing the direction of travel (south). [A trail appears to go to the right as well but that’s not it] GPS: Pavillion
5.6 – Continue on Appalachian Trail (WHITE). [Pass Tinsley (YELLOW) on the right, and an unmarked trail goes left] GPS: AT/Tinsley
7.0 – Turn RIGHT and now follow Stony Brook (BROWN). There is a small sign for the AT shelter at this intersection. GPS: StonyBrook/AT
Longer Option: Instead of turning on to Stony Brook, continue on the Appalachian Trail to the next intersection and turn RIGHT on Tower (GREEN). There is a lookout tower and viewpoints marked on the map just past the intersection but we have never gotten around to checking them out. Take Tower (Green) to where it meets this description at 8.2 below, and turn LEFT onto Stony Brook (BROWN)
The trail soon veers to the left at another small sign for the AT shelter. This turn is a little hard to spot. GPS: ATShelterTrail Stony Brook (BROWN) is rocky and can be quite wet, as it follows along a brook.
7.2 – Cross Sunrise Mountain Road.
7.8 – Continue following Stony Brook (BROWN) as it turns left and becomes a wider, more level, and less rocky path.
8.2 – Tower (GREEN) comes in from the left and is co-joined with Stony Brook (BROWN) for a short time. GPS: TowerTrail
8.4 – Turn RIGHT and follow Stony Brook (BROWN)/Tower (GREEN) [Stony Brook (BROWN) also goes straight]. GPS: Stony/Tower
Continue on Stony Brook (BROWN)/Tower (GREEN) past the intersection with Swenson (RED) GPS: Swenson from the start of the hike, back to the parking lot.
Hiked: 10/14/12. Trail Blog: “Sunrise Mountain – Stokes State Forest“
Hiked: 5/22/10. Trail Blog: “Stokes State Forest – Sunrise Mountain“