Sunrise Mountain

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Hike through a dense forest before climbing to Sunrise Mountain for views over northern New Jersey from the Appalachian Trail.

8.7 miles. Moderate – to difficult, typical rugged north Jersey trail surface. 

Our two cents:

The AT is not as rocky here as it is closer to the Gap. Steady rocky uphill on the approach to the Appalachian Trail. Stony Brook can be wet in areas and has several stream crossings via rocks or logs.

Updated: 10/2020 – Page refreshed, not re-hiked. Description/Interactive map adjusted to reflect naming changes due to the creation of the Blue Mountain Trail. 8/2017:  Park map link.

10/2015: 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.

10/2012: Description updated, a new set of photos and GPS coordinates added.

Map:

Kittatinny Trails or color coded park map.

NOTE: A 17-mile Blue Mountain loop was created which affected some trail names/colors (Swenson, Cartright). We’ve revised the directions below to reflect this but have not re-hiked it since.

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: N41.20292° W74.77338°

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: Blue Mountain (BLUE) – Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – Stony Brook (BROWN).

Optional: Before starting, walk up from the parking lot to check out at Stony Lake as it’s not along this trail route.

Stony Lake

0.0 – Look for the trail kiosk (large wooden sign), that marks the beginning of Blue Mountain (BLUE) and start down the wide path.

Multiple trail markers on a tree

0.1 – Veer LEFT to continue on Blue Mountain (BLUE). [BROWN and GREEN continue straight and will be the return route].

1.8 – Continue following Blue Mountain (BLUE). [Tinsley (YELLOW) joins in from the RIGHT, and is co-aligned for a bit.]

1.9 – Turn RIGHT to continue on Blue Mountain (BLUE). [Tinsley (YELLOW) goes straight.]

2.3 – Arrive at a cabin. Continue following Blue Mountain (BLUE) – 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].

Spring Cabin

2.9 – Turn RIGHT to continue on Blue Mountain (BLUE). [Swenson (RED) goes straight].

3.8 – Cross Sunrise Mountain Road and continue on Blue Mountain (BLUE), which heads uphill.

Rocky trail

4.0 – Arrive at a slanted slab of rock that opens up to a wide view. It helps to get up on a rock and peek around/through the brush in order to spot it.

Viewpoint on Blue Mountain trail

To the north is the High Point Monument in the distance (on the left, when going up the hill). Continue uphill on Blue Mountain (BLUE).

View of the High Point monument

4.3 – Turn RIGHT and now follow the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). It’s mostly level along the ridge.

4.4 – Short side trail to a very obscured view. Continue on Appalachian Trail (WHITE).

Partial view from a side trail off the Appalachian Trail

4.5 – Pass the parking lot for Sunrise Mountain view point (it’s above and to the right).

Continue up stone steps.

Appalachian Trail near the Sunrise Mountain parking lot

On the left is a short trail to a more open view from Sunrise Mountain. Panorama, normal, and zoom.

Sunrise Mountain panorama
Sunrise Mountain viewpoint
Rural Jersey from Sunrise Mountain viewpoint

4.7 – Large pavilion with benches and views from both sides of the ridge, somewhat obscured with brush.

Sunrise Mountain pavilion

View to the west from the pavilion.

View West from the Sunrise Mountain pavillion

Continue following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – just after the pavilion, the trail 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.]

5.6 – Continue on Appalachian Trail (WHITE).

Appalachian Trail
Wet area along Appalachian Trail

[Pass Tinsley (YELLOW) on the right, and an unmarked trail goes left].

7.0 – Turn RIGHT and now follow Stony Brook (BROWN). There is a small sign for the Appalachian Trail shelter at this intersection.

Longer Option, ~10 miles: See below.

The trail soon veers to the left at another small sign for the Appalachian Trail shelter. This turn is a little hard to spot.

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.

8.4 – Turn RIGHT and follow Stony Brook (BROWN)/Tower (GREEN) [Stony Brook (BROWN) also goes straight].

Continue on Stony Brook (BROWN)/Tower (GREEN) back to the parking lot.


Longer Option, ~10 miles

Instead of turning on to Stony Brook, continue on the Appalachian Trail to the next intersection, with Tower (Green).

There is a fire tower and a view just past the intersection.

Culver Fire Tower
Looking at the route ahead towards Culvers Gap and Appalachian Trail south

After checking out the tower, follow Tower (Green) back to the parking lot.

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Hiked: 10/4/15.
Hiked: 10/14/12. Trail Blog: “Sunrise Mountain in the Fall
Hiked: 5/22/10. Trail Blog: “Sunrise Mountain in Spring