Your Trail: Get off the city streets and let’s run the trails in Northern NJ!
Often falling in the shadow of that big city in NY, and ignored as an area with trails due to population density, Northern New Jersey has tucked away a number of worthy parks and runnable trails with views and a ruggedness you just would not expect there. Let’s get off the city streets and find out what Northern New Jersey has!
The “You need to run this” trail:! – We wanted to highlight what might be some of the most underrated trails in the area and get away from the crowds in the more popular parks. Stokes State Forest in Northwest NJ is the best place to do this. You can run from here to High Point State Park and then connect to the Appalachian Trail! The park is well marked, the AT gives you 12+ miles in the park and there is so much more with camping, swimming, fishing and anything else you can dream up!
Other noteworthy trails: The Norvin Green State Forest – A trail network that feels untouched, and wild but has views of the NYC skyline!
Best Race/Event: The Squatchapple. With options of 11, 20, 33, or 50 miles the event is billed as a party more than a race and welcomes families and runners of all abilities.
Honorable Mention: Just over in NY, The Big Bear Squatch North. On bear Mountain in NY and working with the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference this event was an instant classic and runners loved the entire day!
The Most unique event: A 5k in February where everyone wears a onesie? That’s right, a onesie! Check it out here –The Squatchy Onesie! Get a laugh and consider joining for this unique trail party!
Trail Event Companies:
Sassquad Trail Running put on by Kim Levinsky. They throw parties, not races – The sole focus of these events is to welcome runners of paces, backgrounds, and experience levels. The races often boast 50% or more female participation and always partner with a not-for profit to donate proceeds to!
Beast Coast Productions : A bit more south, but worthy of checking out for sure!
The Valley Trail Series : Community focused and barebones trail running!
Best FKT to chase: We leave the state and share one of the most incredible routes we can imagine. The Hudson Highlands, (Hell No Hell Hole), hundo
“The toughest hundo in NY? This might be it. If you’re looking for a soul-crushing, life-changing runventure hundo with incredible views and quad-thrashing climbs and descents…. this is the FKT for you. This rugged, technical mountain traverse is 96 miles long with 22,000 ft of climbing and summits 18 mountains on the east and west side of the Hudson.”
Local Trail Media: There is not too much, but the Trails Collective is doing a great job of capturing what we have going on!
Lodging: There is PLENTY of camping in NJ State parks and being right near NYC, there is certainly no shortage of chain hotels. For something unique though, hit up one of the many Bed and Breakfasts like the Inn at Millrace Pond right near the Kaiser trailhead of the Appalachian Trail.
What to do instead of running? Northern New Jersey is as close to NYC as you can get. Many visitors make a weekend of it. They run one day and enjoy the rugged nature of the region, and the next day, they head off to NYC to take on Broadway, the tourist sites, or any of the NYC shopping and dining options. You can’t go wrong!
Good Eats N’ Drinks: Famous for having the most dense populations of diners anywhere you go, you can’t go wrong with a Jersey diner like The Jefferson Diner. You can generally order anything you want and some are open 24 hours. You want something unique to the region though? Ya gotta head over to Rutt’s Hut and get yourself a Ripper. A deep fried hotdog. The original dogs, when deep fried, would rip open, creating the name “rippers”. A classic and unique to the area!
Bringing it all together: So whether you want to see the NYC skyline from the top of a summit, feel like you are lost of some rugged single track, take on a tough section of the Appalachian Trail or just burn some calories before slamming down a ripper’ -Northern New Jersey trail running is a little secret that we think you should check out!
Don’t live in a trail town and want to build one, check some advice here: https://www.trailrunnermag.com/training/trail-tips-training/building-a-trail-town-from-scratch
Want your town highlighted? Suggestions can be sent to Eric at TrailsRoc@Gmail.com