Visit High Point State Park For Epic Views and All-Seasons Recreation
A visit to High Point State Park was recommended to my family during a random, chance meeting with a stranger on the street, and it has served as a wonderful day trip destination just a short drive away in Sussex, New Jersey.
With outdoor adventures en vogue, High Point State Park is a great all-seasons destination. Featuring a spring-fed lake, miles of easy hiking trails—including a leg of the Appalachian Trail—and opportunities to fish, camp, picnic, swim, cross-country ski, go for a horseback ride, even dog sled, there are tons of activities for an active family to enjoy.
Read on for more details on the fun activities in this New Jersey state park, which may be worthy of a spot on our list of the best NJ parks and reservations for family-friendly fun.
Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining an appropriate distance. If you are traveling to an activity outside of your state or the local area, check to see if there are any travel restrictions, advisories, or quarantine orders.
New Jersey's highest point is marked by the High Point Monument, honoring the state's veterans and offering sweeping views in every direction.
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Perhaps the most interesting feature in this 16,000+ acre High Point State Park is its high altitude, which at 1,803-feet, is home to the highest point in New Jersey. An obelisk monument honoring New Jersey veterans marks the park's apex, and visiting this monument is a can't-miss highlight of the trip here.
With unobstructed, sweeping, 360-degree views spanning New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, it's the perfect endpoint to a hike. You can park right near the monument to enjoy the view after nothing more than a jaunt through the parking lot, or at two other parking lots further away, depending on how far you and your brood can handle hiking.
Entering the Monument trail near the Lake Marcia boat launch takes you up a small, rocky trail for an easy-to-moderate hike to the monument's base. While the monument's interior is currently off-limits to visitors, and its base is closed during the winter and spring due to the risk of falling mortar, there is still a lovely grassy field surrounding it. The views from the base are stunning.
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There are plenty of well-kept trails to explore in High Point State Park.
After we retreated from the monument, my toddler had a wonderful time scampering around the large, exposed rocks near Lake Marcia. He tested his footing while we sat at a picnic table, enjoying lunch as he climbed and explored nearby. You never know what will catch the attention of a little one, but it will usually be something you won't expect.
While a quick hike to the monument is a must-do, there are more than 50 miles of trails in the park, offering something for all skill levels. Trails range from less than a mile (under a half-hour) to 4 miles in length (about 2 hours long).
Springtime visitors can enjoy wildflowers in bloom along the trails. Summer gives visitors a chance to cool off with a dip in its lake, plus canoeing, kayaking, and boating. Blueberries and huckleberries grow alongside the trails, ripening in July and August. Camping, cabins, and large guest houses can all be rented. In the fall, the foliage views are phenomenal and perfect for a horseback ride along the bridle trail. Wintertime brings opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and even dog sledding on certain trails. The sweeping views and natural beauty beckon photographers and serve as a perfect background for a family photo.
There are picnic tables throughout the park, and many surprises to uncover, such as the old stone foundation remains of Ayers barn, in addition to countless opportunities to explore this natural wonderland.
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The walk to the Tri-States Monument takes you on a riverside path.
What's Near High Point State Park?
Save time during your visit to High Point State Park for a quick detour to the Tri-States Monument; an understated, stubby plaque stashed under a very high I-84 overpass about a 7-minute drive from the park.
The Tri-States Monument is located at the intersection of the Delaware and Neversink River and marks the point where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania meet. It almost feels "forgotten," jutting out just a few feet from the ground, with little pomp and circumstance, on the outskirts of the Laurel Grove Cemetery in Port Jervis, New York.
You can drive right up to the monument and park if you enter the cemetery at East Main Street and South Street. We parked near the greenhouse on High Street and South Street and enjoyed an impromptu 15-minute walk through the beautiful cemetery to the end of the road where the monument is located. We happened to bring scooters, which made the journey very pleasant along the paved, riverside road, but a walk would have been just as nice.
On the day we visited, there were only a handful of other onlookers, and we had plenty of space and time to explore the monument while social distancing. The cars going across the bridge above are a little distracting, but nothing you can't handle for a 10-minute stopover, which is more than enough time to see the petite monument and the beautiful area surrounding it before hopping in your car for the ride home.
Know Before You Go To High Point State Park
- Entrance fees are charged from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Weekday admission is $5 for New Jersey residents and $10 for out-of-towners; on weekends, it's $10 for state residents and $20 for non-residents. It is FREE at all times if you walk or bike into the park.
- Plan to arrive early in the day, as it's a popular destination, and social distancing gets more difficult—particularly at the monument—as the day progresses.
- The bathrooms were closed on the day we visited. Call in advance or plan another bathroom stop.
- Though the park advertises blueberries along the trail, it is illegal to take anything out of most state parks, including flowers, berries, and tree cuttings.
All photos by the author