Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area


View Sparta Mountain WMA in a larger map

Park Overview:

An unusual joint cooperative management of a wildlife area by the NJ Audubon Society and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. One encourages birding; the other permits hunting. The two areas are kept separated.

Trail Uses:Hiking
Dogs:No dogs
Trail Miles:
Park Acreage:3282 acres
Sparta, Jefferson,
Buy Trail Map:Jersey Highlands: Central North Region Trails Map
Park Description:


The Sparta Mountain Greenway, extending along the westernmost ridge of the New Jersey Highlands, includes a large tract of land purchased cooperatively by the New Jersey Audubon Society and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife [NJ F&W], to establish the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area.  With divided stewardship come two areas with significantly different management plans.  The Audubon Society section is closed to hunting at all times and offers hiking trails and woods roads to enjoy nature.  The NJ F&W section is operated more like a traditional WMA, where hunting is allowed in season.  Both have a variety of habitat types, including upland forest, lakes and wetlands. 

Thomas Edison invested in iron ore mining and limestone processing operations in the area - now long abandoned.  Those activities left remnants of limestone strip mines, fenced-in mines opening, and landmarks associated with his name such as Edison Bog and Edison Pond, not to mention a nearby namesake town.    

Not surprising, given the Audubon's shared ownership, the area is prime birding territory.

Adjacent parks include the Mahlon-Dickerson Reservation, Russia Brook Sanctuary.

To contact the New Jersey Audubon Society see below.  New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife can be reached at 908-637-4125.

Trails Overview:

Published trail maps are on-line for the Audubon Society's section in the southern portion of the Wildlife Management Area.  The Edison Trail is just over 4 miles long and passes through a habitat of forest, lakeside and wetland.  The trail may be rocky and wet in places.  The Highlands Trail, a long distance trail, traverses roughly 1.5 miles of the management area, with one segment  east of Ryker Lake. In addition to two named dirt roads - North Entrance Trail and Monument Trail - other linking trails, side trails and woods roads make loop hikes or in-and-out hikes possible.

Trail maps are available online. Note: The two maps below label some trails with different names.

Topographical maps in PDF for the northern and southern sections are available for download from the Table of Wildlife Management Areas.  Several parking areas are shown, although local roads are not always clearly identified. 


To Ryker Lake Section:

  • From US 80, exit at Route 15, travel north 8.2 miles to Sparta/Lake Mohawk Exit [Route 181] on right.   Take 181 North 1.2 miles; take a right onto East Mountain Road.  Follow it for 1.3 miles and turn right onto Glen Road [Route 620 East]. Take Glen Road 3.7 miles and take a left onto Edison Road.  Entrance to Ryker Lake is 300 meters on your right.
  • From 287/23 Interchange, take Route 23 north 9.6 miles and take right jug-handle to Oak ridge Road exit.  Continue through light on Oak Ridge Road and drive 3.1 miles.  Take a right [past a gas station] onto Ridge Road.  Take Ridge Road 2.8 miles and take a right onto Edison Road. Entrance to Ryker Lake is 300 meters on your right.

Parking areas for other sections of the park are identified on maps for Sparta Mountain management area in "Table of Wildlife Management Areas" [link above],

See Location Tab for additional information.  

Contact Information:The New Jersey Audubon Society