April 21, 2016
New Jersey offers hundreds of incredible hiking opportunities, though some are more manageable than others. There’s nothing more relaxing than a long hike, but we don’t all have the time and energy. Shorter hikes are perfect for families, beginners or anyone looking to take a brief, but rewarding stroll through New Jersey’s natural beauty. I’ve searched through dozens of trails to bring you some of the best short hikes in the state. I’ve chosen 5 trails under 5 miles, from North, Central and South Jersey.
Van Campens Glen, located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, may be the most rewarding short hike in New Jersey. This easy to navigate trail comes in at just 1.6-miles round trip and offers spectacular views of several waterfalls.
This 2.3-mile hike is often combined with the adjoining Van Campens Glen Trail for a longer (yet still manageable) hike. As a standalone hike, it still has plenty to offer, featuring several cascades and the historic Walpack Cemetery.
Starting at the wooden kiosk near the parking area, take the main path past Scarlet Oak Pond and then follow the green trail toward Hawk Rock. The trek offers lovely pond views and an incredibly scenic outlook, pictured. The hike to the viewpoint is just 1 mile long, though you'll need to take the same trails back for a total of 2 miles.
There are only 6 miles of trails in this state park, so you really can't go wrong here when looking for a short hike. All of the trails are enjoyable, though there are two that I feel stand out. The first is an approximately 2.6-mile loop that takes you around the Main and Red Trails. The Red Trail runs along the beautiful black river and offers numerous spots for fishing and picnicking along the way. The second trail is even shorter at just around .75 miles. Take the Main Trail to the Waterfall Trail, and make a left on the Red Trail to get back to the parking lot. It's that easy, and you'll score great views of Hacklebarney Falls.
Most hikers dream of taking on the Appalachian Trail, and New Jerseyans are lucky to have an incredibly easy Appalachian Trail hike available to us. From the Pochuck parking area, head to the Boardwalk Trail and take it to the end. Then, loop back. It's 2 miles round trip and you'll enjoy some gorgeous scenery and a spectacular suspension bridge.
Enjoy a short hike and a long day of family fun. Besides offering several short trails, you'll find a lake, playground, picnic areas, dog park, basketball and tennis courts, and even a small sanctuary featuring farm and barn animals.
There are several multi-use trails at Perrineville Lake Park, but one of the easiest is also the most scenic. The 1.5-mile Lakeside Loop trail takes hikers along the lake and features opportunities for fishing and boating, there is also a picnic area at the very end, right near the parking lot.