Take your pick: You can opt for an easy stroll on Pochuck Boardwalk, or use the boardwalk hike as a warm-up for the more demanding Stairway to Heaven hike. Both are popular attractions; go early to avoid the crowds.
Pochuck Boardwalk is an elevated trail that zigzags for almost two miles over wetlands and through a cow pasture. Limited roadside parking is available at the trailhead on Route 517, near Vernon Valley. Keep a sharp eye out for hawks, herons and other wildlife above and around the narrow, wooden boardwalk as it passes through acres of cattails and wildflowers. At one point, you’ll cross a 110-foot suspension bridge over Pochuck Creek. Follow the boardwalk all the way to Route 94. Here, you can head back—or cross the road and continue with the Stairway to Heaven hike. You can also visit the neighboring Heaven Hill Farm (451 Route 94) for refreshments and fresh baked goods.
The 2.9-mile Stairway to Heaven hike starts across the road. There’s a small parking lot at the trailhead on Route 94. Follow the white blazes and head almost immediately uphill—a change of pace from the flat boardwalk. Here, you’ll walk through woods and climb over rocks in some sections until you reach the trail’s summit at Pinwheel Vista. You’ve gained 900 feet of elevation. Walk out on the boulders and gaze down at the trail you just climbed and at the rolling hills to the west.
Both sections of this hike are part of the Appalachian Trail, the 2,190-mile pathway from Maine to Georgia (including 72 miles in northwestern New Jersey). Don’t be surprised to encounter backpack-lugging through-hikers along the way. On the Stairway to Heaven, you need to be wary of the black bears that frequently cross the trail. Play it safe and be noisy!
Leashed dogs are welcome on both trails. The boardwalk hike can be done in under an hour, out and back. Allow about two hours to go up and down Stairway to Heaven. Avoid these hikes after heavy rains; sections of the boardwalk can sometimes be swamped, and the Stairway can get muddy and slippery.
MORE FROM THIS PACKAGE:
Take a Ride Along the Delaware River
Grab a Kayak and Paddle the Pinelands
Test Your Agility on a Treetop Course
Hike the Wonders of Wawayanda State Park
Get a Kick Out of Foot Golf
Sleep Under the Stars in Worthington State Forest