Over a year and a half ago, I climbed Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York state. It was no easy feat, especially in the snow, but it was an accomplishment that inspired me to attempt hiking the highest peaks in the United States and as many as I can abroad. While, I am not sure I’ll ever want to summit Denali or Everest, I would like to at least attempt what I can, starting small and growing from there.
New York was my first peak, but an easy second would be climbing New Jersey’s highest peak, High Point. At only 1,803ft, it was less of a climb than an easy hike and only 3.7 miles roundtrip. In fact, you can drive to the top of High Point if you really want to, but I just don’t see the fun in that.
After camping overnight at a campsite in nearby Pennsylvania, my friends and I woke up with the sun and headed to High Point State Park. On weekends, the entrance fee to the park is ten dollars for New Jersey residents and twenty for non-residents. The park has a beach and lots of open space for picnicking, so it’s a great place to spend a day.
Focused on the hike, we headed to the Interpretive Center to park. There are often educational programs here, but we didn’t bother to head inside, though I did stop to admire the building.
There are plenty of trails to hike in the area, but the trail leading to the top is the Monument Trail Loop, marked red and green, which can be started from the parking lot near the Interpretive Center.
As much as I love hiking, this day wasn’t exactly my best day on the trail. Every single step was a struggle, and it had nothing to do with the trail’s difficulty, in fact it was one of the easiest hikes I’ve ever done. However, the trail was overgrown, so much so that we joked that we needed a machete to make our way through many of the areas. On top of that, there were bugs, ones that kept buzzing in my ears the entire journey. It was enough to drive a person insane, especially after lack of decent sleep the night before.
My legs were itchy, and I immediately regretted my decision to wear shorts, something I never do while hiking. Sure, I had loaded up on bug spray, but that didn’t seem to help.
Relatively miserable for most of the hike, I was looking forward to getting to the top, and I made sure to show my gratitude for any minute that the trail opened up a bit. I’d stay there for a while, slowly sipping on my water and preparing myself for the next overgrown patch.
Eventually, we felt the woods breaking up and knew we were reaching the top. As soon as we got there, I understood why it was all worth it. Finally, I was able to enjoy myself, free and far away from the bugs that had become my new friends.
There was a wide open space and plenty of spots to sit and soak up the views, it was beautiful. We found a bench and had a few snacks before taking on the monument.
On days when the monument is open, you can climb to the top. We started to climb up, but after the hike, we decided that we weren’t in the mood to make it up all those stairs.
Instead, we wandered around the monument a bit, enjoying a part of the state that most people don’t see. Clearly, this was a New Jersey far away from the Turnpike.
Then, before heading off to finish the trail, I took a few celebratory shots on the top.
Climbing New Jersey’s highest peak was probably one of the easiest peaks I’ll hike to the top of, especially considering the others that make the list. It was no Denali, but it challenged me by making me think about why I want to climb to the top of each high peak. I believe it’s that sense of accomplishment at the top after pushing through something difficult.
Every single hike I’ve been on that’s had a goal of summiting the top of a mountain has been hard for me, but I tend to forget the pain and struggles once I reach the top. Then, on my decent, I’m on a high from reaching my goal, which is what makes me want to do it again.
I may not ever reach the top of Mount Everest, but with each peak I reach, no matter how tall, I am given a greater appreciation for my life and the world I live in. For that, it’s worth trying to reach the top of every peak I can.