Mount Rose Ridge

On its own, this is a charming, fairly steep little climb of about 120′ vertical elevation up and over the southernmost ridge in the Sourlands. It is the northernmost section of the Watershed Preserve’s main trail, but except for the … Read More

Haycock Mountain

Haycock Mountain is an entertaining, short hike (only about 0.75 mile from the trailhead to summit). You gain 460 vertical feet in this distance, which puts the average gradient about 12%, though the hike gets a fair bit steeper as you approach the summit. The payoff is the scramble: from roughly the midpoint of the hike to the summit, you’re picking your way through giant boulders. The short length and scrambly nature of the hike makes it particularly entertaining for experienced hiker-kids. It does require experienced hiker-adults to accompany them because the trail is poorly blazed, and appears as if it was never officially marked. (Driving time is just about an hour; rated for experienced hikers for elevation gain, scrambly nature, and poor blazing).

Bowmans Hill Tower Hike

Bowman’s Hill climbs a bit over 300 vertical feet from River Road, with an average gradient of over 25%. That’s pretty darn steep, and it’s one of only a handful of spots within half an hour of downtown Trenton where you can gain so much elevation. Most of this trail is on paved paths, but the climb up the hill is on a trail that’s no longer maintained, hard to find, and unmarked. But it’s short, sharp, and fun: definitely worth checking out by experienced hikers, given its proximity. (Driving time is only about 20 minutes from downtown; rated for experienced hikers only for elevation gain, steepness, and lack of blazing).

Jacobs Creek Trail

The Jacob’s Creek Trail provides a little over a mile of paths along this famous creek, a charming, short reminder of a wilder time. The southern end of this walk is particularly lovely, because it passes through farm land not yet subdivided into McMansion plots. (

Cushetunk Mountain Preserve

Cushetunk offers two different hiking options. If you park at Old Mountain Road in Lebanon, it’s an intense 2.4 mile loop hike that includes a fairly strenuous scramble along a 0.9 mile ridgeline and an elevation gain of about 450 feet. If you park on Mountain Rd, in Whitehouse Station, the hike is about 7.5 miles and 1,100 cumulative vertical feet. (Driving time is about 70 min, Rated for Experienced hikers for elevation gain, rugged footing, and poor blazing)

Witherspoon Woods / Mountain Lakes

In recent years, Princeton has gotten serious about preserving open space. Recently, Princeton added Witherspoon Woods to its park system and trail network. It’s only 40 acres, but it adds charming terrain and a slightly more challenging way to access the Mountain Lakes Preserve. I stumbled upon it by accident and fell in love with it. A wonderful introduction to “real hiking” for beginners, and a charming walk for everyone. (Driving time is about 25 minutes. Rated Beginner though the footing is rocky in places and can get muddy in wet season)

Musconetcong Gorge Preserve

The preserve is great fun, with a fantastic loop hike at its core, which you can extend in various ways. There’s about 600 feet of cumulative elevation gain: some of the climbs are quite steep. There are also a couple of stream crossings. Usually you can just hop over stones to cross, but in high water, you may get your feet wet. (Driving time is about 75 minutes, though the drive, mostly on Rt. 29 is beautiful and stress free; Rated for Experienced hikers because of elevation gain and steepness)

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