Take Route 206, four miles north of Branchville
15,482 acre Stokes State Forest is situated along the scenic ridge of Kittatinny Mountain in northwestern New Jersey with High Point State Park to the north and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to the west. There are 25 named and marked trails in Stokes State Forest including the Appalachian Trail (hiking only) which traverses the eastern edge of the forest for more than 9 miles. The designated, multi-use trails are available for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding cross country skiing and snowmobiling. They wind through a variety of habitats that include mountain ridges, cool ravines with rushing streams, waterfalls, mixed hardwood forest and stands of eastern hemlock. Mountain laurel, wild blueberry, pitch pine and scrub oak are among the natural vegetation most commonly found throughout the area.
The crest of Sunrise Mountain is one of the most popular sites in Stokes State Forest. From the top of the mountain 1,653 feet above sea level, those on the Appalachian Trail are rewarded with sweeping views of the verdant, rural farmscapes of the Delaware River Valley to the east and forests and mountain ridges to the west.
Rhododendrons and cool evergreen forest of eastern hemlock line the steep slopes of the Tillman Ravine Natural Area, a stream valley gorge carved by the whirling, rushing waters of spring-fed Tillman Brook. Several hiking (only) trails wander through this spectacular ravine, providing views of waterfalls splashing over wide sandstone ledges and ferns clinging to rock crevices. The 525-acre ravine is host to the threatened barred owl and other wildlife and plant species. It's 10 degrees cooler than surrounding countryside, providing a moist, shady retreat even on the hottest summer days.
Stokes State Forest facilities include the Stony Lake and Kittle Field picnic areas. The Stony Lake picnic area, in a wooded setting, offers picnic tables with adjacent grills, pavillions, a new modern restroom showers and dressing rooms. Relax on the beach, or cool off with a swim in the lake (lifeguarded). Canoeing (no rentals - bring your own) and fishing are also popular lake activities. The Kittle Field day use picnic area, with open fields, a playground and short trails ideal for a post-lunch stroll is best for families with young children.
There are two family camping areas at Shotwell and Lake Ocquittunk. Campground facilities include tent and trailer sites equipped with fire rings and picnic tables and flush toilets. Hot showers are within walking distance at Lake Ocquittunk. Some camping areas are open year-round. In the summer and fall, parking and campsites are hard to come by. Ride here in the Spring for more soltitude.
Note: At last check Fall 2007, the Steam Mill area was closed for repairs. This is black bear country. When we were here, summer of 2007 we were lucky enough to spot one ambling down to the Lake for a drink. It was after all, 95 degrees that day!.
The mutli-use trails vary in length from .5 miles to about 9 miles and range from easy riding on old woods roads to challenging, technical singletrack. Some routes require multiple stream crossings, log hopping over blowdown, maneuvering among boulder fields, rocky climbs, tricky descents over loose rock and a variety of other tasty treats for mountain bikers who relish them. Listed below are just a few suggested trails that you can combine for a variety ofmountain bike ride options.
Lackner Trail : 2.0 miles (easy)
This scenic path is one of the easiest mountain bike rides to do in Stokes State Forest. It travels on an old woods road and connects The Old State Road near Coursen with the Recreation Area at Stony Lake. West of Stony Lake, the trail passes the site of Camp Madeline Mulford, a Girl Scout Camp that was active prior to the 1940's. The trail follows along the slope of a low ridge beneath a mixed hardwood forest treating bicyclists to mountain laurel, wildflowers and blueberries in bloom. Near Stony Lake, notice the red sandstone rocks that have been exposed long ago by retreating glaciers.
Steam Mill Road : 0.8 miles (easy)
Sloping gently, the trail follows a low ridge that parallels the Big Flatbrook for a short stretch. There are no steep climbs required.
Blue Mountain Trail : 1.4 miles (easy)
A relatively level trail that follows a ridge of sandstone bordered by stream-cut limestone valleys. It traverses hardwood forest by Kittle Road to Hemlock stands near Big Flatbrook, crossing several small brooks along the way. The ride features lots of wildflowers and is spectacular in late May and June when the mountain laurel blooms.
Swenson Trail : 3.8 miles (moderate - advanced)
The beginning of this ride is moderate on a rocky woods road that climbs steadily but gradually along a low ridge from Station Trail near Stony Lake. It then descends to Sunrise Mountain Road, becoming level along the way. In 1920 the Chestnut forest that blanketed this region was wiped out by a blight (note the tree stubs, gray and bare of branches at Stony Lake). Further along the trail becomes more technically challenging requiring several stream crossings and a narrow, rocky, steep descent.
Tinsley Trail : 2.8 miles (advanced)
A challenging, technical and rocky trail with a steep climb from the School of Conservation to Sunrise Mountain. The route passes through hardwood forest on the way up and closer to the ridge top you'll be biking amongst scrubby oak twisted by nature into the most amazing shapes. Numerous large kettle holes, loose rock and gravel, parallel rock ridges (moraines) and boulder fields are reminders of past glacial activity.
Howell Trail : 1.6 miles (moderate)
This rock strewn trail passes the foundation of the Howell Dam on the scenic Big Flatbrook stream and winds over small, gently rolling hills. A small portion of the trail passes through High Point State Park. although it begins and ends in Stokes State Forest.
Parker Trail : 2.4 miles (moderate)
The trail runs from Grau Road to Deckertown Turnpike before crossing into High Point State Park. It slopes moderately from Grau to Sunrise Mountain Road, then becomes level. Hemlock is common where the trail passes near the Big Flatbrook.
The Snook Mine (Silver Mine Trail)
The area around Stokes Forest has a long history of mining attempts. The Snook Mine, dug in the 1880's is also known as the Silver Mine due to the vein bearing silver ore discovered here. The now flooded shaft for this abandoned mine lies along the 1 mile long Silver Mine Trail which begins at the Kittle Field picnic area. The first part of the trail leads to a waterfall and an early 19th Century mill site. Beyond the falls the easy, wide trail turns fairly rough. STAY ON DESIGNATED PATH AND AWAY FROM THE MINE SHAFT!!!!
For more information:
Stokes State Forest
Phone: (973) 948-3820