Stony Brook/A.T./Tower Trails Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take Interstate Route 80 to Exit 34B and continue north on NJ-15 for about 17 miles. When NJ-15 ends, continue ahead on US-206 North for 6.5 miles, and turn right at a sign for Stokes State Forest. After passing the park office (where a park map may be obtained), you'll reach a kiosk where a seasonal parking fee is charged ($5 weekdays, $10 weekends). Continue ahead on the main park road for 2.1 miles, following signs to the Stony Lake day-use area. Park in the Stony Lake parking area.
One of the most popular circuit hikes in Northwest New Jersey, the Stony Brook/Appalachian Trail/Tower Trail loop is considered a moderate hike with a great view from the A.T. at the Tower Trail junction. It also crosses one of the two 24-foot bridges built by the Trail Conference’s West Jersey Trail Crew in spring 2019.
To get there, enter Stokes State Forest at the park office and follow the signs to Stony Lake. Park in the large parking lot. Start your hike on a gated woods road next to the kiosk. Pay attention, since several trails share the same trailhead. The Blue Mountain Loop Trail (blue blaze) turns left, and shortly thereafter, the Stony Brook Trail (brown blaze) bears left. This is the trail you want to be on. From this point on, you should only see brown blazes. The trail follows an old farm road. In a short distance, you will notice the Tower Trail (green blaze). You will be descending this trail at the end of your hike.
Soon the trail will turn right crossing a wet area and begin to climb up a rather stony path. Stony Brook will be on your right. You will cross a cascade and small bridge at Sunrise Mountain Road. The brown blazes continue on the other side of the road. In about 0.2 mile, the Gren Andersen Shelter (with water and latrine) will appear on the left (blue blaze). The Appalachian Trail (white blaze) is a short distance beyond. Turn right (south) on the A.T. and go about a mile over rough rocks until you reach the Culver Fire Tower (notice the dark green markers for the Tower Trail on your right just before the fire tower). Enjoy the view at the tower and backtrack on the A.T. to the Tower Trailhead (green blaze).
Bear left onto the Tower Trail and begin a steep descent to Sunrise Mountain Road. Still on the Tower Trail, cross the road and descend over the rocky trail. In about 0.7 mile, you will cross a bridge over Stony Brook (built by the volunteers of the West Jersey Trail Crew in 2019), and a short distance beyond, you'll reach the brown-blazed Stony Brook Trail. Turn left and walk about 0.25 mile to back to your car.