Series of Unfortunate Events Brings Us to High Point State Park

Even the Delaware River was almost frozen over!

The day we visited New Jersey’s High Point State Park was a day of bitter cold and frustration! I debated about even blogging about it, but in the end, decided that it serves as a lesson about preparing better for an outting. My lack of planning and research before a day trip nearly froze us out of an entire day in a lovely part of Pennsylvania. This post is also about how to make the best of it, even when you’re not so prepared.

There is a beauty in winter landscape that I’ve not fully appreciated before this adventure.

Initially, this post was supposed to be about a winter hike to a waterfall in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. I’d identified two hikes that would be good for really cold weather; the idea of photograhing frozen waterfalls intrigued me. We had a day with nothing planned during a stay in the Pocono Mountains, near the Delaware Water Gap. We arrived at our first location, and found the access road to the trailhead closed. To park and hike in would have added too much mileage given the minus-5 degree windchill, or whatever. (Coming from Maryland, and after a series of warm winters, it felt much colder than that!) We turned around and headed to my plan B location, which access road we discovered to be also closed. Again, hiking in would have added too much to the hike. (Although we had long johns on, we didn’t have snowpants or adequate head protection.) I’d read that the park is open — and indeed it was, sort of.

We defaulted to plan C: High Point State Park in neighboring New Jersey. The drive through the snow-covered countryside was lovely, and we were exploring and taking notes (with plans to return in the summer to do those hikes and even some kayaking!).

Part of the Kittatinny Mountains, the highest point in the state of New Jersey sits in the northern reaches of the park. There’s also a monument, which we had to enjoy from a distance.

This was as close as I got to the Veterans Monument and its promised views!

High Point Monument, built at High Point marks the highest point in New Jersey, (hence the name),  and in warmer weather or at least to the properly dressed for the weather, offers views of farmland and forest, hills and valleys in three states, out to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where the Delaware River separates the ridges of New Jersey from those of Pennsylvania. Although we could have hiked up to the monument the day we visited, we were there on one of the coldest days of the year: 8 degrees, and the wind was a-blowing: wind chill was sub-zero. We were not dressed for any sort of substantial hike in such cold weather. We would have to return to the park during warmer weather!

This cross-country skier was clearly enjoying skiing on the frozen lake.

Notably, High Point offers trails for hiking and cross-country skiing and areas for camping and fishing. Despite the frigid temperatures the day we were there, folks were out and about enjoying the park, mostly on cross-country skis.

Very picturesque view of High Point State Park headquarters.

To the south, the Appalachian Trail follows a rocky ridge which offers many scenic views of the valleys and mountains surrounding the area. To the north, the trail drops off the ridge through hemlock gorges into former agricultural fields with a view of the surrounding countryside and the High Point Monument in the distance.

The Appalachian Trail goes right through High Point State Park. 

Getting there: 1480 NJ-23, Sussex, NJ 07461

Hours: Daylight


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View from the lake at High Point looking up to the hillside adjacent the monument.