The Farmer’s Almanac estimates that the 2016 peak season for fall foliage in New Jersey will occur between October 12th – November 4th. Northern and inland areas of the state can expect to see the most vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow starting in mid-October, while southern and coastal regions of New Jersey will see the colors really start to change towards the end of the month. With all of our beautiful parks and gardens, there are so many places to enjoy this yearly phenomenon. Here’s a fun road trip through the state that highlights autumn’s art.
Nearly 300 miles and just over 7 hours of driving, you'll probably want to make this trip over two days. This will give you time to not only take in the foliage, but stop at several attractions along the way.
Palisades Interstate Park
This is one of my favorite fall foliage destinations - the park comes alive with color. Take a stroll through and, if you have time, explore the ruins of Cliff Dale Manor. There are some great lookout points here, so you don't even need to hike for spectacular views of changing leaves, towering cliffs and the Hudson River/NYC.
Ringwood State Park
Besides some fantastic foliage, you can visit Ringwood Manor and Skylands Manor - both beautiful estates. Ringwood Manor is open for tours from 10-3, Wednesday - Sunday, all year. Tours of Skylands Manor are available one Sunday per month from March - November. This park is also home to the New Jersey State Botanical Gardens, a delightful place to take in year-round. On your way to the next stop, you'll be driving through Abraham S. Hewitt State Forest, so keep your eyes out for some gorgeous leaves there, too.
High Point State Park
Home to the highest point in New Jersey, you can snag views of foliage in three states. You'll spot treetops in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on a clear day. Enjoy a rainbow of colors around Lake Marcia and be sure to stop at High Point Monument. You can climb to the top of the 220-foot obelisk on weekends until Columbus Day. After High Point, you'll head towards Buttermilk Falls, driving through Stokes State Forest. Expect some spectacular scenery along the way.
This is just meant to be a quick stop, but one that won't disappoint. These towering falls have a viewing area at the base and a platform for a unique perspective. No hiking is required to enjoy this beautiful spot.
Worthington State Forest
This is your last stop of the day and, depending on how tired you are/how late it is, you can simply drive through and enjoy the view, or head out for a hike. If you do decide to hike, I'd recommend heading out to scenic Sunfish Pond.
Where To Stay
End your day at Main Street Manor Bed & Breakfast in Flemington. Each room is beautifully appointed and common areas include gardens and a library with books, board games, movies and more. Don't miss the delectable breakfast before heading out to your next destination.
Washington Crossing State Park
Relive history at Washington Crossing State Park. Head to the visitor's center for informative exhibits about Washington's famous Delaware River crossing and explore the Johnson Ferry House where Washington likely stayed. Offering regular living history demonstrations, keep up to date with their calendar of events.
Belleplain State Forest
Unlike the other parks on this trip, there isn't a ton to do here in the fall, other than hike. That's exactly what you'll do. There are over 20 trails starting at a mile in length, so choose one that works for you.
Head to historic Batsto Village and explore restored buildings dating back nearly 200 years. See a 19th century gristmill, sawmill, general store, cottages and many other structures. Stroll the village and be sure to take a guided tour of the spectacular 32-room Batsto Mansion. When you're done, head to Batsto Lake for some leaf peeping.