Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area


River Road under Ken Lockwood Gorge Bridge; Columbia Trail crosses over


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Park Overview:

An unpaved road closed to vehicles parallels the South Branch of the Raritan River through a deep gorge.  Some say it's amongst the ten most beautiful spots in New Jersey. Editor's note: This park is currently being used to test alternative ways of linking to hike descriptions.  See Trail Overview section below.  Comments are welcome.

Trail Uses:Hiking
Dogs:Dogs on leash
Trail Miles:
Park Acreage:445 acres
Buy Book:Hiking the Jersey Highlands - Illustrated Guide

Park Description:

Typical of Wildlife Management Areas, the 445-acre Ken Lockwood WMA is managed primarily for hunting and fishing.  It is also one of the New Jersey's most picturesque.  Towering hemlocks lining the steep walls of the gorge provide shade and contribute to a sense of isolation.  A 2.5-mile stretch of the South Branch of the Raritan River flows through the gorge, cascading over boulders, spilling over small waterfalls, and pouring into quiet pools.  It is a wild and scenic river particularly in the spring. 

Trails Overview:

Hikers can enjoy a stroll along the unpaved road that parallels the river without interruption by vehicular traffic, which has been banned by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

  • There are two alternatives for accessing (the same) hike description:
    • For a detailed description of a hike click on "Find a Hike," scroll down to the name of this park. (Alt. 1)
    • Click for a detailed description of a hike in this park. (Alt. 2)
  • Hikers parking in High Bridge can access the gorge via the Columbia Trail where it crosses the Raritan River on a high trestle.
  • Click here for information about hiking the Highlands Trail in the Ken Lockwood Gorge area.   Or, Visit The Highlands Trail website for complete, accurate and up-to-date information about New Jersey's Millennium Trail, including trail descriptions, current trail conditions and maps. 
  • Current topographical maps are available for download from the Table of Wildlife Management Areas -- observe the steep contour lines.

Take I-78 to Exit 17 and continue north on NJ 31 for 1.9 miles, turn right on County 513 to the Borough of High Bridge.

  • To reach the southern end of the wildlife management area, park in High Bridge -- a municipal lot is located on Van Syckles Street on the left off County 513 just before Borough Hall. The Columbia Trail trailhead is near by, leading to the gorge.
  • Parking is also available at Voorhees State Park further north on County 513 [on the left], just avoid staying after closing time when locked gates can trap your vehicle. Parking is permitted at Voorhees High School [on the right of County 513 near the Voorhees S.P. entrance] when school is not in session.
  • Public transportation is available to High Bridge via weekday commuter service on the NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line.
Contact Information:NJDEP, Division of Fish and Wildlife,
Region:Central Jersey

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Road repair

From George Perry, author of "Hiking the Jersey Highlands," who visited the gorge in mid-August:

The State has been repairing and resurfacing River Road after it was washed out in places by a flash flood after a heavy thunderstorm in June. During the work, access to the road from Hoffman's Crossing Road and from High Bridge was blocked to cars. The work is now almost complete. On Monday I walked the hike, as described in "Hiking the Jersey Highlands," from the parking lot in Califon off Route 512 to the restored rail bridge over the river. Parking on River Road about 0.4-mile in from Hoffman's Crossing is available. A gate has been installed beside the parking area at the beginning of the new pavement, but it isn't locked. No obstacle to hikers.  

Until the paving work is complete, access for cars to River Road may be blocked, but walkers can get through. The work was supposed to be done by the end of July, but of course there have been delays.

It seems to be almost complete, but there are now auto gates at both ends. I've seen one and been told about the other by the driver of the passing car. How they will be used isn't clear.

Access for hikers on the railbed trail from Califon to High Bridge (the route of the Columbia Trail and partially of the Highlands Trail) was never impeded by the work, and remains open.

Hiker parking and access to the Highlands Trail from route 513 and Stephens State Park was never impeded.

Added note: Updates are welcomed, please use the "reply" button.