The Ultimate Guide to the Sourland Mountain Hiking Trail
A few days ago, I embarked on a hiking adventure at Sourland Mountain Preserve. It took me some time to make the decision because I didn’t find much exciting content about it on YouTube, nature websites or Google.
So whenever I had the opportunity to go hiking near this park in NJ, I would opt for more picturesque and captivating places in the area. Nonetheless, after finally mustering up the courage to explore the 6-mile trail around Sourland Mountain Preserve, I am eager to share my insights with you. In this post, I will highlight five things that I learned about this place and what you can expect if you plan on visiting for the first time.
Brief History of the Preserve
The Sourland Mountain Preserve, located in the Sourlands region of New Jersey, has a rich and fascinating history that spans several hundred million years. Despite its significance, it was only recognized by a few people until fairly recently.
Dutch Settlers and Revolutionary War: In the late 17th century, Dutch settlers arrived in the area and established farms. During the Revolutionary War, the mountain served as a strategic location for both British and American troops.
Early Industries: After the war, early industries such as logging and charcoal production emerged on the mountain. In the late 19th century, quarrying became a major industry on Sourland Mountain.
Modern Times: Today, Sourland Mountain Preserve is a popular destination for hiking and nature enthusiasts. The preserve covers over 6,000 acres and is home to diverse wildlife such as black bears, bobcats, and coyotes.
Despite its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, there are also darker aspects to Sourland Mountain’s history. The area was once home to enslaved people and war veterans who were buried there. In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve this important part of New Jersey’s history.
Things to Know Before Embarking on the Sourland Mountain Preserve
Sourland Mountain Preserve may not meet your expectations
While it pains me to say this, the Sourland Mountain Preserve may not be the best option for those looking for a picturesque hiking experience. Located in an area of New Jersey with limited scenic options, it’s no surprise that this preserve falls short in terms of stunning views.
Personally, I prefer to seek out the most breathtaking hikes when I have a day off and was hesitant to visit this park due to its lackluster previews. However, if you’re less picky or want a half-day hike, this preserve could still be worth your time.
Customize your hike at Sourland Mountain Preserve:
There are multiple ways to tackle the trails at Sourland Mountain Preserve depending on factors like how much time you have and your physical level. Take advantage of this flexibility by planning out your route beforehand – check out the map provided in this conversation – and customize it according to your preferences.
For instance, I opted to follow the outer edges of the park for a more challenging experience but you can choose whatever path suits you best! Trail markers are easy to spot so getting lost isn’t likely to be an issue here.
Sourland Mountain Preserve is ideal for mountain biking enthusiasts
If there’s one activity that stands out as a must-do at Sourland Mountain Preserve, it’s mountain biking. The terrain and scenery make it an excellent spot for both beginner and intermediate mountain bikers to enjoy a full day of riding.
Check out the provided link for specific trails designated just for bikers – and don’t worry if you prefer hiking or trail running instead; there are plenty of trails available for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
Flora and Fauna
The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife species, including black bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and white-tailed deer. Birdwatchers will also be delighted to know that the preserve is an important bird area with over 90 species of birds recorded.
But it’s not just the wildlife that makes this preserve special. The Sourland Mountain region is also known for its diverse plant life. The interior forests are home to rare medicinal plants like bloodroot, black cohosh, and Virginia snakeroot. The forest floor is covered in a blanket of wildflowers during the spring months.
Best Hiking Trails On Sourland Mountain Preserve
Devil’s Half-Acre Trail
Devil’s Half-Acre Trail is located within the Sourland Mountain Preserve in New Jersey. This 5.7-mile trail is known for its challenging terrain and nice views, making it a popular destination for hikers of all levels.
The trailhead for Devil’s Half-Acre Trail can be found at the parking lot near the Sourland Mountain Preserve headquarters. From there, hikers will begin their journey through a dense forest filled with towering trees and lush greenery.
As you make your way along the trail, you’ll come across boardwalks that take you over streams and wetlands, providing a unique perspective of the preserve’s diverse ecosystem. The boardwalks are also an excellent opportunity to stop and take in the natural beauty around you, including stunning views of the surrounding hillsides.
One of the highlights of Devil’s Half-Acre Trail is undoubtedly its rocky terrain. Hikers will encounter boulder fields that require careful navigation, adding an extra element of challenge to the hike. However, these obstacles are well worth it when you reach some of the most incredible viewpoints on the entire preserve.
The elevation gain on Devil’s Half-Acre Trail is moderate but still requires some effort from hikers. As you ascend to higher elevations, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of rolling hillsides and forests that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Roaring Rocks Trail
If you’re looking for a moderately challenging hike with stunning views, the Roaring Rocks Trail is a perfect choice. This 3.6-mile loop trail will take you through beautiful natural parks and geological formations.
The Roaring Rocks Trail is generally considered a moderately challenging route, but it’s definitely worth it for the breathtaking views along the way. You’ll start at the parking lot near the trailhead and follow the white diamond markers to begin your journey.
The trail takes you through Devil’s Half-Acre, which is a unique geological formation that features large boulders and rock outcroppings. As you continue on, you’ll cross two creeks before reaching the summit at an elevation of 975 feet. From there, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Other Outdoor Recreations
This hidden gem offers a variety of recreational opportunities in an undisturbed natural setting.
If you’re an avid mountain biker, Sourland Mountain Preserve is the perfect destination for you. With its rugged terrain and challenging trails, this preserve is sure to provide an adrenaline rush for even the most experienced bikers. Plus, biking allows you to cover more ground and see even more of the preserve’s natural beauty.
Sourland Mountain Preserve is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Birdwatchers will be especially delighted with the opportunity to spot rare species such as the Golden-winged Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow.
The Sourland Conservancy works tirelessly to protect this unique ecosystem from development and other threats. By visiting Sourland Mountain Preserve, you are supporting their efforts to preserve this beautiful natural area for generations to come.
Whether you’re a hiker or a biker (or both!), Sourland Mountain Preserve has something for everyone. So why not plan your visit today?
Places near Sourland Mountain Preserve worth visiting:
- High Point State Park: High Point State Park is a beautiful destination located in the northwestern corner of New Jersey. With over 15,000 acres of forested hills and valleys, this park offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, fishing, swimming and camping in this natural wonderland. The park’s centerpiece is the High Point Monument, a 220-foot-tall obelisk that provides breathtaking panoramic views of three different states. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an outdoor adventure, High Point State Park has something for everyone to enjoy.
- Delaware Water Gap: The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area offers year-round recreation opportunities for visitors. Hiking trails wind through the park, offering stunning views of the river and surrounding mountains. Paddling on the Delaware River is also a popular activity, with miles of water to explore. Fishing and hunting are also available in designated areas.
- Stairway to Heaven trail: Looking for a challenging and rewarding hike in New Jersey? Look no further than the Stairway to Heaven trail. This 2.6-mile out-and-back trail near Vernon township offers stunning views and a moderately challenging route that will leave you feeling accomplished. The Stairway to Heaven trail is known for its varied terrain, which includes boardwalks, suspension bridges, hardwood forests, fields of wildflowers, train tracks, a cow pasture, and even a boulder field. The climb is a little challenging for the very young or very old but is manageable for most hikers. The trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and takes you on a boardwalk over marshland, through a forest, and up to Pinwheel Vista.
For more hiking trail guides, visit our page: The Best Hiking Trails In the United States
What is the length of the hiking trail at Sourland Mountain?
There are multiple trails to hike around Sourland Mountain, ranging from 2 to 10 miles.
Are dogs allowed in the preserve?
Yes, dogs are permitted at Sourland Mountain Preserve but must be kept on a leash.
How high is Sourland Mountain?
Sourland Mountain has an elevation of approximately 600 feet.
Are there any bears in the area?
Bears are a rare sight in the preserve, and most trails are quite popular with visitors. You may encounter snakes, but even that is uncommon.