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 High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016 
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
Another late one... :oops:

When you think New Jersey, you don't normally think mountains, views, and trails. Most people think cities, skyscrapers, Atlantic City, and crime. Believe it or not, there are mountains in the Garden State! And on 6/22, my buddy Chad and I hiked the highest one, 1,803 ft. High Point. This would be my 9th U.S. State high point and Chad's 1st- it was also my last remaining state HP within daytrip range.

I left my house at 4:45 AM and headed over to pick up Chad. Shortly after 5 AM, we hit I-93 south and started the almost 5 hour drive to the trailhead. I-495, I-90, I-84, they all looked so familiar to me since I drove on those roads to get to and from North Carolina on Memorial Day weekend. The western section of the highway, from the I-91 split to Port Jervis, NY, was virgin road, however.

I had high hopes for this trip, but I admit I didn't think it through all the way when I planned it- it was a weekday, and we'd pass through some major cities in Connecticut, like Hartford and Waterbury. Got stuck in a couple notable traffic jams in said cities, but once out of CT, it was smooth sailing on the cop-infested NY portion of I-84. We made one more rest stop at a rest area not too far from our exit (which had a sign telling drivers to pull over and text if they needed to), then made our way to the exit, got off, and eventually found the trailhead on the Greenville Turnpike in Greenville, NY.

Since it was going to be a very long drive, we decided to get our money's worth (or as much of it as we could) and decided to take the long way- the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (long distance trail in NJ and NY) from Greenville Turnpike to the summit, which was around 4 miles one way. Parked the car, locked up, geared up, and then we hit the trail.

The Shawangunk Ridge Trail started out by passing the homes adjacent, then made a moderate climb over a surprisingly rocky footbed. During and after this climb, all the way to the state line, the trail passed through private land, which was heavily posted on both sides of the trail. Made us feel uneasy and unwelcome, but I reassured ourselves that we were good to go. Besides the posting, the first 3 or so miles of the SRT was lightly traveled, somewhat sparsely blazed, narrow, and tricky to follow at times. Felt like a wild mountain trail in a very unwild state.

About 3 miles in, we crossed the border into New Jersey, and soon after, reached a junction with the High Point State Park trails. We stayed left, passing a rock overhang in the process. Before we got to another junction with the Cedar Swamp Trail, we walked on a part of the trail that followed a boardwalk through an absolutely beautiful swamp/bog. Wildflowers everywhere. Really not like NJ.

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Rock overhang

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Wildflowers

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Boardwalk section

We came to the junction and turned right onto the Cedar Swamp Trail, which we followed past a dried up pond to the access road for the state park campsites, not far below the summit. We walked the road past the sites, sipping out of a water fountain en route, to the main road to the top. Across from it was a pond, where a swimming beach is located. Even though we were hot... no thanks :lol: . Looked around, read some kiosks, then walked up the auto road to a dirt road spur, then veered left and followed it to the summit of the highest point in New Jersey.

High Point's summit has parking area for tourists/highpointers and state vehicles, but otherwise it is open with some rock outcrops and good views in all directions. On a crystal clear day (not our case), one could probably see the Catskills. The highlight of the summit, however, was a 221 ft. stone tower, which can be climbed to its top via staircases. We snapped some pics, talked to the tower employee, then climbed to the top. Oh yea, the employee said that it is really hot and sticky up there due to lack of air circulation. He wasn't kidding- the humidity was so bad that we had trouble breathing, we sweated like pigs, and I could splash my buddy Chad with the sweat on my arm! We had to climb it it, though! How can you come here and not?

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One of the summit views

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'Nother view

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Outside of the tower

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My sweaty self at the top of the tower

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Going up... or down?

After having our summit fun, we headed down to and across the parking lot to take the Shawangunk Ridge Trail back to the car in New York. Before leaving the ridge, we stopped for one last view:

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We dipped down and eventually got back to the Cedar Swamp Trail junction, then headed down the boardwalk and on the trail back to the car, but not without seeing some of the locals:

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Snapping turtle

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Mr. Snake

Eventually, we made it back to the car, 3 hours 50 minutes after starting. (The actual hike took around 3 and a half hours not including our summit break.) Packed up and then started the long drive back to Manchester, NH, stopping for Wendy's in Fishkill en route.

Everything was going smoothly, until we got into CT. Afternoon rush hour + road construction = traffic jams from HELL. I'd be stuck in one for 10 minutes, speed up to 55-60 for 30 seconds, then get caught in another long jam. Took an obscenely long time to drive less than 10 miles. I got so pissed off that I got off the highway at the Sandy Hook exit and attempted to bypass the highway traffic by taking side roads. My intention was to either head northeast toward either the MassPike or I-91, but my superb navigational skills had Chad and I going more to the southeast. Eventually, we ended up in what I later learned was a really sketchy, dangerous part of New Haven, CT. The kind of area where you lock your doors, roll up your windows, and don't look anyone in the eye :shock: . Yelled to Chad, "Take the GPS, punch in 'Home', and get us the hell out of here!". (If you're wondering why I didn't put the GPS on when I got off I-84, I was afraid it would keep redirecting us back onto the trafficky highway.) Got on route 15, took it to I-91 in Hartford, picked up I-84, then went home using the same roads we took there. Ended up making what should've been a 5 hour drive back into an over 7 hour drive :oops: .

Not the smartest hiking trip I've done, but it turned out to be a hell of an adventure, and I had great company for it! OTOH, now that that state HP is out of the way, at present I have no real reason to return to New Jersey :wink: . The roundtrip distance of the hike was around 8.5 miles with 1,150 ft. of elevation gain, and thanks to my blunder on the drive back, I ended up driving 575 miles roundtrip :shock: :oops: .

As always, the full video recap can be found here: https://youtu.be/g_DwBAnKjNc

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Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:02 pm
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 Re: High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
Is this the same Hiker0200 who recently said, and I quote...
hiker0200 wrote:
A daytrip to Acadia?! ...How many miles are on your car :shock: ?

In all seriousness, nice job. You're lucky- you have at least a 1/2 hour headstart on me for Acadia NP. Not feasible for me to do a daytrip there...


If so, you just forfeited your right to ever use that excuse again! :wink:


Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:10 pm
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 Re: High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
Granite Guy wrote:
Is this the same Hiker0200 who recently said, and I quote...
hiker0200 wrote:
A daytrip to Acadia?! ...How many miles are on your car :shock: ?

In all seriousness, nice job. You're lucky- you have at least a 1/2 hour headstart on me for Acadia NP. Not feasible for me to do a daytrip there...


If so, you just forfeited your right to ever use that excuse again! :wink:



Frig... fair enough :lol: . OTOH, I wouldn't have done this trip, at least as a daytrip, if my buddy didn't go.

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Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:23 pm
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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 Re: High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
I bet your buddy would like to high point the eastern seaboard in Acadia, as well as scramble up the beehive, just as much as this one. :D


Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:31 pm
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 Re: High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
Flat down there eh? Was it wirth it? Sounds like a day of hell, including not being able to breathe in the tower! :shock:


Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:36 am
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 Re: High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
Something is up with that I-84 through the Danbury/Sandy Hook area. I recently had to drive to Boston for a business trip and got stuck there as well. The construction was only a small part and it's not just during rush hour, so I don't know what it is. All I know is I won't go that way again.

Wow I'm impressed that you took the time to research and drive all this way to hike the SRT. As you saw, it's a pretty lightly used trail. (Although some of the sections further north are supposed to be spectacular.) I think this would be like me driving up to NH just to hike the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway LOL.

Actually there is a large network of trails in the hills of Northern NJ (the AT passes through there as well). Yet although it's right in my backyard, I've maybe hiked there twice. There are not many views and it's also heavily bear infested (with the types of bears that have become accustomed to human presence and don't always run off into the woods :shock:) A hiker was actually killed by a bear there last year.

By the way, on your way down I-84 near Fishkill, you may have noticed a set of fairly hgh mountains (some with communication towers) off to the left of the highway. That's called Fishkill Ridge (part of Hudson Highlands SP) and worth a return visit if you're ever in the area. Mt's Taurus, Beacon, Breakneck Ridge etc. Some pretty rugged hiking with great views.


Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:16 am
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 Re: High Point, NJ- 6/22/2016
wp_hiker2 wrote:
Something is up with that I-84 through the Danbury/Sandy Hook area. I recently had to drive to Boston for a business trip and got stuck there as well. The construction was only a small part and it's not just during rush hour, so I don't know what it is. All I know is I won't go that way again.

There, and the one I always seem to hit inexplicable slowdowns is going through Waterbury near the mall strip. I've gotten pretty good at timing I-84 for minimal slowdowns most of the time, but I often still get a 10-20 minute near standstill going through there, never with any obvious reason for it (not construction, not heavy traffic, not an accident, it's just like everyone hits the brakes to chill for 10 min, then starts up again!).

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Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:44 am
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