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Stokes Select Professional Review and Guide
"For fear of overselling a park, we normally resist assigning it too many superlatives. But in Stokes, we’re stumped: this solitary, mountainous jaunt is so darn beautiful we can’t help but beat the drum for it. It’s a strenuous outing that alternates between lowland bogs and highcountry terrain, providing several hours’ communion with an extended patch of unspoiled nature. In spring, Kittatinny Mountain Ridge brims with wildflowers, while the autumn display of colors seen from this, New Jersey’s highest natural point, is pure hiker heaven."
--Christopher & Catherine Brooks, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: New York City (Menasha Ridge Press).
I was stuck car-less at my parent's house in suburban NJ for a week (a prescription for boredom) and I finally convinced a friend of mine to drive up to this park in Somerset County and take a hike with me. I was very pleasantly surprised. The hike was a workout but not too strenuous of one. As far as the sights go, the boulder-field known as the Devil's Half Acre was fun to climb and otherwise explore and Roaring Brook was worth the longer hike to see the dozens of tiny mountain stream tributaries all meet up. Ideally I would have waited until a bit later into the year to make the hike as the foliage was just barely starting to blossom, but the scenery was still nice and, as some slight compensation, it may have contributed to the park being as deserted as it was (there were only four cars in the lot excluding ours). My only complaint about the trail was how wet and muddy a lot of the path was, however it's been an irregularly rainy past month or so and so that may not be the norm. All in all I would definitely recommend this hike for anyone located in central Jersey who needs a quick day trip or an escape from the day-to-day.
The trail was easy to follow, a little muddy and slippery in several places due to the rain today. Very well marked and easy to follow. The trail to the north at marker 1 is very rocky compared to the rest of the loop. I would definitely recommend it.
Even though the temperature 84 degrees and humidity on this day was high the trek was still quite comfortable. The majority of this trail is very well shaded due to excellent tall tree foliage. The climb up the trail to the rocky portion of the ridge is easily managed as the path is very well marked. The actual out cropping of rocky structures provides some picturesque landscape. The hike around this mountain loop is reasonable quick about 30 minutes out bound and it links up nicely with additional trails that can extend the hike to upwards of 2-3 hours. This trail is very well suited to accompanient with children in the 6+ age group. A suggestion is to wear good shoes as the rocks and stones are unforgiving to toes. Overall good trail if you have limited time thanks in part to to the variety of path lengths.
If you like rocky you'll like this hike. We made a family hike of it with our 13-year-old son, 11-year-old daughter, and 7-year-old son. They loved it and the level of challenge was perfect.
N.B., get an up-to-date map at http://www.somersetcountyparks.org/maps/Sourland.pdf because there are new trails.
Area fairly barren this time of year. First signs of spring just appearing. Expect trail to be more interesting a few weeks from now.
Good trail to get back in hiking shape after a winter hiatus. Trail is well marked except when it comes to an open section. The trail goes to the right, and then to the left and back into the wooded area. However, there is a wide-open dirt track to the left that goes steeply downhill. This cuts the hike almost in half.
Area was pretty busy for being early in the season. However, exceptionally nice weather probably brought the people out.
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