Sunrise Mountain in Spring

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First time hiking Sunrise Mountain in Stokes State Forest.

Had been wanting to do this hike for awhile, but Stokes is a bit of a drive for us (1.75+ hrs from central NJ), so it makes for a long day… but it was worth it for a great view from Sunrise Mountain and just some nice secluded forest hiking.

Complete hike details, photos, and video on our main Sunrise Mountain page.

All trails start on one path
Swenson Trail

Swenson Trail is mostly level, with some rocky areas.


Pass a cabin on Swenson


Wet crossing on Swenson

The first viewpoint on the Cartwright trail – as the trail starts to head steeply up – is fantastic.


Section of ferns on Cartwright


Start heading steeply uphill on Cartwright

Sit on a rock and look out over nothing but thick green… you can’t see or hear a road… a rare treat in NJ. Look north (your right if you are looking at the view) and spot the High Point Monument in the distance.


View on Cartwright, the trail where you just came up on is visible on the left


Viewpoint on Cartwright – all green, no cars or buildings. Very quiet!


Look to your right (north) and spot the High Point Monument

Sunrise Mountain can be driven up, and there is a parking lot near the viewpoint – so expect some people there.


Appalachian Trail (AT) near the parking for Sunrise Mountain

There also is a pavilion with benches down the trail a bit, but the views are obscured some by brush. The first view is better.


Sunrise Mountain pavilion further down the trail


Sunrise Mountain view from pavilion


Sunrise Mountain view from pavilion


Little snake along the AT

There is another wonderful break spot, with a rock to sit on and a nice view, further down the AT before hitting Stony Brook.


Viewpoint along the AT

We only did an 8.5 mile loop, cutting our planned 10 mile route short due to us still not being fully 100% after catching a bad cold after our vacation earlier this month. (Peru – Machu Picchu!)


Stony Brook trail

Route overview:

From Stony Lake parking… Swenson Trail (RED) to Cartwright (BROWN-RED) to AT (WHITE) to Stony Brook (BROWN) to Station (Light GREEN). To make the 10 mile loop, pass Stony Book and take the next trail instead, Tower (GREEN).

Directions: 206 North until you enter Stokes, pass Rt 636 and then turn right for the park entrance. The ranger station has a bathroom and a park map. There is a parking fee charged between Memorial and Labor Day.

Drive down Coursen Rd and make a right at the end to get to the trail lot. There should be bathrooms open in season (Memorial-Labor Day) if you walk up the hill to the beach, but nothing appeared open when we went just a week before.

Look for the trail kiosk, that marks the beginning of the trails – all 5 start down the wide path.

4 thoughts on “Sunrise Mountain in Spring”

  1. Hey, thank you for all your info. I did have a question. If I wanted to come see the sunrise do they still let people do that? I’ve been reading that it doesn’t open up until 8am?
    If they allow it, where could I go to perch my car?

  2. Lightgazer – There is a parking lot on Sunrise Mountain Rd that is right at the overlook that has a sign posted opens 8am and a gate. It may be in force seasonally but I’m not sure, we parked there last year and forgot about the gate but happened to roll up right at 8am so it was open – best bet is to call Stokes and check.

    From this overlook lot you can be on the AT and the pavillion in minutes: This hike route passes the lot about half way thru.

    Alternate if the lot isn’t open might be to park at Culver’s Gap lot on Sunrise Mtn Rd, think thats always open (check with them), and hike the AT to the overlook for sunrise – offhand I think that’s probably 6-8 miles roundtrip.

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