Hiking The Stairway To Heaven Trail in Vernon, New Jersey

Hikers of all skill levels can achieve an unforgettable hiking experience at The Stairway To Heaven trail in Vernon, New Jersey. The challenging hike is found within the beautiful Wawayanda State Park and is part of the sprawling Appalachian Trail, which stretches across the eastern United States.

One of the Stairway To Heaven’s most prominent features is the Pochuck Boardwalk. It provides a unique and breathtaking view as you hike through the forest. The boardwalk meanders through a marshy area, which allows hikers to get up close and personal with the natural surroundings. As you walk along the wooden planks, you’ll be closed in by tall trees and the soothing sound of nearby flowing water. 

The Stairway To Heaven also presents a variety of terrain from beginning to end, including fields and thrilling inclines. Combining these different landscapes makes this hike both enjoyable and rewarding when you finally finish. This medium-length hike features a well-maintained trail that is easy to navigate for beginners and experts alike. 

Though it’s beautiful all year, hiking the Stairway To Heaven Trail in the Fall season is perfect timing. You can see the landscape changing before you, with some leaves already changing colors and others on the ground.

Directions and Trail Access 

Traveling to the park and accessing the trail is relatively easy. From Franklin, NJ, start by driving north on Route 23 until you reach Hamburg. From there, turn right onto Route 24 and continue towards Vernon, NJ.

Once you’ve entered the town of Vernon, make a left onto Route 94 and look for the parking lot on your right, just before Heaven Hill Farm.

The parking lot near the trailhead is relatively small, with space for only about six vehicles. It’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a spot in the parking lot. If it’s full, you’ll need to park on the main road and walk to the trailhead. 

There are no fees required to access this trail, but visitors should keep in mind this is a popular destination, and the area is likely to be crowded. 

Must-Have
Collapsable Hiking Poles
Pros:
  • Multi-Function
  • Great for Travel
  • Prevent Injuries
Check Price
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
 

Not Suitable For Beginners

This hike is excellent for beginners in the New Jersey area and safe for families and pets. You don’t have to be a hiking expert to have a memorable experience here; nature enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels are welcome on The Stairway To Heaven! 

The trail is relatively short, at just 4 miles out and back, and the gain in elevation is around 1,000 feet, so it’s not too strenuous. However, the trail is extremely rocky in some areas, which may take extra time to complete for families with young children. 

If you’re planning on hiking the Stairway To Heaven trail, there are a few things you should bring with you to make your experience even more enjoyable. We suggest you bring the following supplies: 

  • Walking Stick or Hiking Poles
  • Camera or Phone for Pictures
  • Hiking Boots with Good Grips
  • Shoe Spikes 
  • Coat or sweatshirt for the top (cooler months)
  • Snacks and water
  • First aid kit 

A walking stick or hiking poles can help you navigate rocky or slippery sections of the trail, which becomes necessary during the cold and wet months. The surface can be slippery on a rainy or damp morning, especially with wet leaves on top. Coming prepared is the best way to avoid unnecessary injuries. Shoe spikes are recommended for trekking through ice and snow in the winter.  

You also won’t want to forget a hiking camera or smartphone to capture all the gorgeous scenery around you as you explore the trail. The natural beauty of the surrounding area is something to be remembered! 

High-quality hiking boots with adequate grips are also a must, along with a coat or sweatshirt in the Fall and Winter. Be sure to bundle up during the cold months with plenty of layers, as it gets especially chilly on the mountaintop due to the high elevation of almost one thousand feet. 

Having a First Aid Kit for any injuries is always a good idea. Be sure to pack supplies in your kit for any blisters, cuts, sprains, or bug bites that may occur throughout your journey. When hiking in the summer, bring lots of sunscreen to reapply. 

Last but not least, remember to bring some healthy snacks and cold water to keep you energized and hydrated during your hike. Along with fresh fruit and veggies, we recommend trial mix, beef jerky, and protein bars as wholesome and nutritious snacks to keep you going. You may even consider using YakTrax for a better grip with wet leaves and during winter.

Yaktrax Diamond Grip for Rocky Surfaces
Check Price
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Forked Trail At The Top

As you near the end of The Stairway To Heaven Trail, you’ll come across a large pile of rocks that marks the top of the mountain. You will see a small sign on this rock pile that says “The View” on the tree

If you want to take in the breathtaking panoramic views from the top of the mountain, take the fork to the left of the trail. This will lead you to the overlook, where you can marvel at the stunning vistas of Sussex County and beyond. On a clear day, you may even be able to see as far as High Point State Park in the distance!

The View From Stairway To Heaven Trail

But the Stairway To Heaven trail offers even more beyond the breathtaking views from the Pinwheel Vista Overlook and Annie’s Bluff. If you take the fork to the right instead, you’ll be treated to an additional small elevation gain and an encounter with a unique and exciting trail feature. 

Here, you’ll find a mailbox attached to one of the trees. Inside the mailbox will be a notebook filled with messages and notes left behind by previous hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

Want urban overlooks?

Click here for NYC Overlook Spots!

Great Hike For Sunsets & Views In New Jersey

Any time of day is a great time to take in these stunning panoramas, but the direction of the view makes this an especially beautiful spot to watch the sunset. If you are hiking the trail in the late afternoon, the peak is the perfect place to watch the sunset in northern New Jersey.

So if you’re looking for a great morning hike or an evening outing to catch the sunset, this trail is definitely worth considering. With gorgeous views and a simple elevation gain, Stairway To Heaven Trail in New Jersey is a solid option for anyone looking to enjoy nature in this beautiful state!

More Information About Stairway To Heaven Trail in NJ:

How long does it take to hike the Stairway to Heaven NJ?

Typically, a round-trip hike for Stairway to Heaven Trail will take between 4-6 hours, with the initial ascent taking around 3 hours. The trail is considered moderately complex, so it’s recommended to come prepared with plenty of water and snacks.

Where is the stairway to heaven trail in New Jersey?

The Stairway to Heaven Trail in New Jersey is located in Vernon, NJ, located in Sussex County. This trail is part of the Wawayanda State Park, one of the state’s largest parks. The trail winds around the mountain and is a challenging hike with some steep slopes.

What is required for hiking Stairway To Heaven Trail in New Jersey?

Hiking the Stairway to Heaven Trail in New Jersey requires some preparation. First, make sure you have sturdy hiking shoes that can handle a variety of terrain and provide adequate support for your feet. Bring snacks such as protein bars or trail mix that are easy to eat on the go so you can keep your energy up throughout your hike.

And don’t forget to bring water or a hydrating drink with electrolytes, like Gatorade, to replenish lost fluids. Lastly, pack a first aid kit with basic medical supplies in case of an injury or emergency. With these items in tow, you’ll be ready for an enjoyable and safe hike through the picturesque landscape of the Stairway to Heaven Trail in New Jersey!

Other Recommended Hikes & Places:

Anything To Add?