The 12 Best Places in New Jersey to See Fall Foliage
New Jersey is a colorful state, and now is that delightful time of year when nature turns its new leaf to let our most vivid pictures explode. The trees come to life with a flamboyant color palette as green gives way to shades of red, yellow, orange and even purple, blue and copper – mixing hues to paint a captivating landscape.
“Seeing the colors of fall” has become a seasonal sport, a passive but demanding visual training that involves excessive gaze and sharp focus.
While satisfying as a stand-alone pastime, we recommend that you combine your fall leaf sightings with a number of activities that offer a variety of vantage points. Jersey’s fall colors are the perfect backdrop for rocking a club, hitting a trail, sipping wine, or casting a line; and they can be admired not only from the comfort of your car, but also from the deck of a boat, the seat of a bicycle, the back of a horse or a haystack on a tractor across the pumpkin.
The fall foliage season is brief, spanning a short period of weeks from early to mid-October through early November; It is therefore important to know where to go and choose the right time to witness the show at its peak. The 2021 fall foliage predictive map is a handy tool, courtesy of the Smoky Mountains, that shows the season’s national progression from start to finish. The New Jersey Forest Service may be able to help by tracking the most colorful leaves in state parks and forests.
The weeks leading up to it are still well worth your time. Even ‘patchy’ and ‘partial’ views will delight, so there’s no time like the present to go out to take a peek before the peak. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a little list of results. Keep in mind that the leaves will change sooner in the northern parts of the state, so let’s take it from the top.
The Skylands, which has numerous parks and reserves on 65,000 acres in northwest New Jersey, is a prime leaf spot, with several must-see destinations:
Gap in Delaware – Straddling the New Jersey-Pennsylvania line, this area is one of the best places to explore any time of year, but fall brings something special to the landscape. Walk along the Appalachian Trail for a full view of the colorful Garden State landscape.
High Point State Park – You can’t climb any higher than High Point Monument unless you’re on a plane, so if you’re up for an invigorating hike, you’ll be rewarded with a tri-state panorama of fall splendor. There are 50 miles of varying length trails and some accommodate bikes and horses.
Hardscrabble, Jockey Hollow and the Cross Estate – At Morristown National Historic Park, home to Washington’s Headquarters, hike the Patriot’s Path trail system, then grab some cider and donuts at one of the local farms, like Wightman’s.
Hopatcong Lake – If you have a boat, or better yet, a friend with a boat, get on the lake and drink in the scenery of Morris and Sussex counties. Also check out nearby Lackawanna Lake.
Lambertville – Shop, dine and sightsee along the Delaware River in a city recently named “One of the 15 Most Beautiful Cities in America” by Forbes Magazine.
Stokes State Forest – Hike along the Appalachian Trail or one of the other 33 miles of trails for spectacular views. Admire the expanse of the Kittatinny Valley from the ridge of Sunrise Mountain or kayak on Lake Ashroe.
Later in October, head further south to see the last bursts of the fall display.
Bass River State Forest – Fishing is the main draw at this Burlington and Ocean County destination, but the fall foliage isn’t far behind. The hiking trails are easy to navigate, so you can focus on soaking up the gorgeous views. Don’t miss the 67-acre Lake Absegami for a serene experience.
Belleplain national forest – This Cape May County gem is a great destination for hiking, picnicking or canoeing; then end the day with a small wine tasting at Natali vineyards Where willow Creek Farm & Winery.
Delaware State Park and Raritan Canal – Stretching over 70 miles from Frenchtown, New Brunswick, the park’s main trail is the state’s longest completed multi-use trail. Visitors can fish, canoe, kayak, walk, and cycle to fully experience fall in New Jersey.
Parvin State Park – A walk in Parvin State Park in Salem County is nothing short of spectacular. The dizzying array of colors surround the centerpiece of the park – Lake Parvin – and this view alone is worth seeing.
Rancocas State Park – A variety of landscapes in this Burlington County park gives viewers the opportunity to appreciate nature’s colorful bounties in different ways. Streams, marshes, highlands and lowlands also provide a good opportunity to observe wildlife.
Wharton State Forest – Located in Hammonton and home to the historic village of Batsto, you can hike, cycle or ride a pony. Stay alert for the many species of birds and other wildlife that you may observe while taking in the views, especially along the Batona Trail. Cedar Lake is a hidden fall gem you’ll find just south of Hammonton.
No matter where you go, New Jersey’s stunning carnival of fall colors will take your breath away.
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