Here’s a list of our favorite intermediate hikes. Click on the excerpt title to read the full review and gain access to driving directions and trail maps. Or click here to review them all.
|Eastern Trails of Baldpate Mountain
Lovely trail section of the Baldpate trail system, recently re-blazed with drainage improvements. Less steep than Summit or Switchback trails, but lovely in its own right. We suggest loop hike: Kusar Mountain to Copper Hill (either branch, western harder and wetter), to parking lot, then return via Kusar Mountain, which starts near high tension wires.
|Hacklebarney State Park
For beginning to intermediate hikers, Hacklebarney gives you a taste of what wilderness hiking is all about. The Park is truly beautiful, with trails that overlook tiny, pristine brooks that still support wild native trout (the brook trout), and descend through dense woods towards the Black River. Kids will love the streams and the rock formations. (Driving time is a little over an hour; rated Beginner to Intermediate depending on the trails you select)
|Hartshorne Woods Park
Hartshorne Woods is a magical place for walking or mountain biking (or fishing or birding), located on the highest coastal escarpment on the Atlantic seaboard south of Maine. A little over an hour from Trenton, east of Red Bank, and opposite Sandy Hook, it makes a wonderful half-day excursion in its own right, or combined with a half-day at the beach. Kids will love the lush terrain so close to the ocean, and the military anachronisms such as the WWII pillboxes (Driving time is about 75 minutes; Rated Intermediate for cumulative elevation gain)
|Pine Grove Hike on Baldpate Mountain
Suitable for hiking or biking (see Biking Notes): This has been one of our favorite walks on Baldpate for years, but we've never written about it in part because a critical segment was missing from the County's map. This hike takes you through one of the very few stands of pine trees to be found on Baldpate, via a narrow, twisting trail that's beautiful and fun to walk in almost any season. However, my favorite time to do this hike is in the winter, after a dusting of snow. Another great time to walk this is in July when the wild raspberries are in season. (Driving time is about 25 minutes; rated for intermediate to experienced hikers for elevations and because trails are poorly blazed. Intermediate hikers should load a GR Series Map into their smart phone, and be prepared for a longish hike.)
The Sourlands is one of the few hiking spots close to Trenton where you can experience reasonable elevation gain, second only to the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain. Yes, it is about 40 minutes away (compared to Baldpate's 20 minutes) and in the Sourlands you gain up to about 350 vertical feet on the steepest trail (compared to Baldpate's 425). But, the Sourlands have miles of reasonably challenging forest-hiking trails to enjoy... There are trails suitable for all levels of walkers from Beginner to Advanced. Beginners can do some short loop hikes near the parking lot, while Intermediate hikers have miles of trails in the southern section with moderate grades. (Driving time is 40 min; Rated Beginner to Experienced depending on where you go)