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...
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.
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.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.