From I-80: Take Route 206 North about 8 miles through Andover Borough. Turn right onto Goodale Road and follow for 1 mile. Turn right into park entrance where there is a parking lot or proceed to the Visitor Center where there is additional parking.
5,656-acre Kittatinny Valley State Park allows visitors to experience a dazzling array of outdoor activities on an extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails in both the Highlands and Valleys. The trails travel through hemlock and hardwood forests (the sugar maples are gorgeous in the fall), past freshwater wetlands, glacial lakes, vernal pools and fields filled with vibrant wildflowers. Lake Aeroflex, the deepest natural lake in New Jersey, is popular for fishing, canoeing and kayaking. The steep slopes, ravines and rocky outcroppings that characterize much of the northwestern NJ Kittatinny Ridge and Valley region, provide all the contours necessary for great MTB trails.
The mosaic of forest, fields and wetlands are perfect for wildlife watching. Whitetail deer, black bear, raccoon, skunk, opossum, coyote, red fox and the eastern chipmunk make their home here. Kittatinny is also a paradise for bird watchers. Over 200 species have been observed here throughout the year. Watch osprey dive for fish on Lake Aeroflex, listen for songbirds in the spring and summer, look for ruby-throated hummingbirds in the Butterfly Garden (behind the Kittatinny Visitor Center) or spot the elusive wild turkey. The park is also home to several endangered species, such as the barred owl and Cooper’s hawk.
Other interesting park features include Aeroflex Airport (restricted area) and the Kittatinny Visitor Center. It's a short ride along the gravel park road from the main parking area to the Kittatinny Visitor Center and Park Office. The whole scene is "stop in your tracks" breathtaking. You'll pedal through wildflower filled meadows buzzing with bees and butterflies along a curving gravel park road bordered by huge stately trees. The Visitor Center is in a pretty stone house with a wide, white columned porch. Stop in for trail maps and trail guides. Be sure not to miss the colorful butterfly garden round the back.
Kittatinny Valley State Park is one of the most popular mountain bike destinations in New Jersey as you can soon tell by the activity going on in the large parking area off Goodale Road. It seems to be the main staging ground for mountain bikers coming and going in the park. If this is your first time riding here, it's a great opportunity to get some dirt on the park trails. However, do keep in mind that skill level can be subjective.
Over eight miles of singletrack mountain bike trails provide seemingly endless opportunities for both out-and-back and loop rides. There are trails here for everyone from the beginner to advanced rider. The difficulty depends on the terrain, which runs from wide gravel roads and smooth single track to rugged and technical mountain bike routes, with tight, twisty turns, roots, rocks, loose shale and short steep ascents and descents. The trails are well-maintained by volunteers from Team Bulldog, in preparation for mountain bike races (including the popular Bulldog Rump) held in the park each year.
We found out that you really have to determine the best routes for your MTB skill level by trial and error, or with the aid of someone really familiar with the mountain bike trails in the park. Although color coded trail marking is in progress, many of the trails in this maze are yet unmarked. Because the trails lie mostly between Lake Aeroflex and Goodale Road and many end up back on the Sussex Branch Rail Trail, you probably won’t get lost for very long.
We had lots of fun exploring different sections of the park (see descriptions below). There is something for everyone.
Lake Aeroflex Loop Rides
For easy riding there are around 3 miles of wide gravel roads and old logging trails in this area. A loop ride of less than 2 miles can be made from the Visitor Center, along the shore of Lake Aeroflex, west through the forest to the field parking area and back to the Park Office.
Note: For safety reasons, the short section of road that crosses the airport runway at the southern tip of Lake Aeroflex has been gated and is closed to all pedestrians, cyclists and horseback riders.
The Tower Climb
The gravel road leading to the Tower is a nice steady non-technical climb. However, you are in for a hell of a leg burning one mile cardio session. From the Tower road you can access a network of dirt and singletrack trails that loop and cross each other. There is everything from flowy to twisty sections with climbs over loose terrain. For a relatively easy ride option, start on the Tower Road, hook up with the Green Trail and loop around (north) back down to the rail trail to complete the circuit.
Rail Trail Medley
Kittatinny Valley State Park administers two rail trails, the Sussex Branch Trail and Paulinskill Valley Trail. Families and novice riders will appreciate the Sussex Branch Trail that passes through the park. The grade is minimal with a hard-packed surface of cinder and dirt that is ideal for walking, running, mountain biking, and horseback riding. You can create a medley of mountain bike ride options using the rail trail which provides direct access to more challenging dirt roads and rugged singletrack trails. It is also just a short ride from the rail trail (field parking area at Goodale Road) to the Visitor Center.
Red, White and Blue
This network of color blazed trails in the main section of the park, offers a wide variety of challenging and technical ride options that include steep rocky climbs and descents, tight turns on narrow cambered singletrack while squeezing between trees over infamous Northeast roots. While the White Trail, which leaves from the Goodale Road parking area, is the less technical of the three, it starts off with a tough switchback climb. Overall, it's a nice mix of singletrack, doubletrack and gravel road sections that lead you on a long perimeter ride along Goodale Road and around the northern fringes of the park before heading south along Lake Aeroflex.
Aeroflex Airport is surrounded by Kittatinny Valley State Park, sandwiched between Lake Aeroflex and Gardiner's Pond. Built in the 1950's by millionaire Fred Hussey III, the airport is named for his company which developed specialized camera equipment during WWII. Today it is operated by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service and is used for both general aviation and for aerial forest fire observation and suppression. It is the only state-owned and operated airport in New Jersey.
For more information:
Kittatinny Valley State Park
Phone: (973) 786-6445