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Monument Trail Loop from High Point Monument
This loop hike traverses two ridges of Kittatinny Mountain, with panoramic views to the east and west, and runs along the shore of Lake Marcia.
Easy to Moderate
Allowed on leash
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Take N.J. Route 208 to Interstate Route 287 South. Proceed on Route 287 to Exit 52B (N.J. Route 23 North), and continue north on N.J. Route 23 for about 35 miles to High Point State Park. Turn right and follow the park entrance road for about 1.5 miles, past Lake Marcia, to its end at the parking area for the High Point Monument. Park at the northern end of the parking area. (Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a parking fee is charged.)
At the end of the parking area, you will notice, at a break in the guardrail, a brown sign marking the start of the Monument Trail. You will be following this trail, marked with a red/green circle on white, for the entire hike. Proceed north along this trail, which follows a relatively level footpath along the easternmost ridge of Kittatinny Mountain, passing through a mixed forest of pitch pines and deciduous trees. The trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and you may see large stone blocks along the left side of the trail, placed there to provide a stable surface for the trail. Soon, views appear through the trees to the right.
In about half a mile, a short side trail to the left leads to a west-facing viewpoint over the Delaware River, Port Jervis, N.Y., and Matamoras, Pa. (You can see three states - New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania - from here.) A short distance beyond, a short side trail to the right leads to a panoramic east-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge over the wide expanse of the Great Valley. After passing another viewpoint to the right, the Monument Trail begins a steady descent.
About a mile from the start, at the base of the descent, the Monument Trail crosses a grassy woods road. A sign indicates that the Shawangunk Ridge Trail and the Cedar Swamp Trail turn left here, but you should continue ahead, following the Monument Trail.
The trail immediately crosses a wooden bridge over the outlet of Cedar Swamp, curves to the left, and soon begins a gentle climb of the next ridge of Kittatinny Mountain. The blazes along this section of the trail are rather sparse, but the footpath is wide and clear. In another half a mile, the aqua-blazed Shawangunk Ridge Trail joins from the left and runs concurrently with the Monument Trail for about 500 feet. At the top of a short climb, the Shawangunk Ridge Trail leaves to the right, but you should continue ahead on the Monument Trail. A short distance beyond this intersection, you'll reach a broad west-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge to the right of the trail. Here, amid pitch pines, you can see the Delaware River, Port Jervis, N.Y., and Matamoras, Pa.
After passing another viewpoint, the trail levels off. It soon begins another gentle climb, reaching a more limited viewpoint at the crest of the ridge, then descends steadily. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a wooden bridge over a stream. Just beyond, the blue-blazed Steeny Kill Trail (which leads for about one mile to a parking area on Route 23 near Steeny Kill Lake) leaves to the right.
The Monument Trail now begins a steady climb, utilizing stone steps built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps for part of the way. It finally emerges on a paved road, with a stone building - the park's Interpretive Center - just ahead. Follow the trail as it turns left, descends on the paved road, and crosses the park entrance road to reach the northern end of Lake Marcia.
The trail follows a gravel road along the shore of this beautiful lake (during the summer, swimming is permitted at a beach at the southern end of the lake). After about 500 feet, the trail turns sharply left, leaving the lakeshore, and climbs on a rocky footpath to cross another paved road. A short distance beyond, you'll reach a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, which proceeds straight ahead and to the right. Follow the Monument Trail, which turns sharply left, traverses a very rocky area, and once again crosses the park entrance road.
Just beyond the crossing of the paved road, the trail turns right on a wide gravel road and climbs rather steeply to reach the base of the High Point Monument. Built in 1930 on the highest point in New Jersey (1,803 feet), this 220-foot monument offers panoramic views in all directions. At present, the monument is closed for repairs, but the same views can be had from the wide platform at its base, where signs point out the various features that may be seen from each side of the monument.
After taking in the views, return to the Monument Trail, turn right, and continue parallel to the paved road leading up to the monument. (If you wish, you may choose instead to go down along the paved road.) After passing concession and restroom buildings, the trail follows the western edge of the parking area to its terminus at the northern end of the parking area, where the hike began.
Same Hike, Another Perspective
For another hiker's description of this same hike, click here.