The brilliant transformation of New Jersey's lush green summer landscape to the vibrant hues of amber, orange and deep crimson happens each fall. It’s a breathtaking season to discover the state's great outdoors, as its palette of colors transforms all of its regions, from the Shore to the great Highlands. Remember, foliage conditions can vary from year to year, but the information below provides a handy guide for planning your vibrant fall getaway.
EARLY TO MID-OCTOBER
Mountain Tour (map): Travel to Stokes State Forest in Branchville, brimming with hiking paths, scenic overlooks and picnic facilities. Nearby is the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, one of the most beautiful locations in the state. Enjoy boating along the majestic Delaware River, flowing between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hike through autumn's fiery colors or continue on to High Point Golf Club in Montague for a round of golf on the verdant course surrounded by leafy trees.
For those looking to explore some trails, High Point State Park in Sussex, home to the highest elevation in New Jersey at 1,803 feet, offers dramatic views as well as hiking and biking paths. On a clear autumn day, you can see miles upon miles of spectacular fall colors. Continue on to Hamburg to stay in the luxurious Crystal Springs Resort, enjoying its host of outdoor and wellness experiences.
The next stop is Franklin and the Franklin Mineral Museum, where minerals from New Jersey and around the world are displayed. Continue on to Sparta, which abounds with mountain lakes and picture-perfect vistas. From Sparta, return to Branchville.
Woodlands Tour (map): Begin in Riverdale and travel through Wanaque and Midvale, past the commanding Wanaque Reservoir. Continue to Ringwood, full of numerous stops to get your nature and history fixes, including Forest's picturesque hiking trails. Ringwood State Park, which includes Shepherd Lake, is a spectacular sight in the fall. Walk the trails, rent a canoe or just sit and enjoy the scenery. Tour Ringwood Manor, a 51-room mansion with period furniture that was home to early ironmasters in the 1800s. The New Jersey Botanical Gardens features 96 acres of gardens and natural areas.
Continue past Hewitt, the site of several natural points of interest, including Greenwood Lake, Wanaque Wildlife Management Area and Abram S. Hewitt State Forest. There, visitors can hike, picnic or pack their binoculars for bird watching. Next, travel to Newfoundland, where the hills will be awash in autumn splendor. Echo Lake Stables offers guided horseback rides along wooded trails flanked by dazzling fall foliage. Continue on to Rockaway’s Farny State Park for a hike beneath canopies of oak trees. From there, return to Riverdale.
Historical Tour (map): This varied tour will take you through New Jersey's beautiful copper-covered scenery, as well as to a wealth of historical sites. Begin your trip in Netcong, near Lake Hopatcong (New Jersey's largest lake), to view the magnificent foliage. Nearby is Waterloo Village in Stanhope, a restored 19th-century village featuring unique shops and historic homes. The village is part of Allamuchy Mountain State Park, a perfect spot to enjoy the beautiful fall scenery, hiking trails and picnicking, as well as mountain biking and fishing.
From Allamuchy, visit the village of Hope, replete with its array of preserved historic buildings. Stroll this 18th-century village to see its Moravian church, gristmill and cemetery. Nearby is scenic Jenny Jump State Forest, with more hiking and picnic facilities as well as camping (with campsites closing for the season on October 31). From Hope, head into Oxford to explore 5,100 acres of wildlife management area at the Pequest Trout Hatchery before returning to Netcong.
MID TO LATE OCTOBER
Colonial Tour (map): Begin in Titusville at Washington Crossing State Park, where General George Washington made his famous Christmas crossing of the Delaware River in 1776. The park brims with bridle paths, hiking trails, a nature center and a playground, all dotted along the Delaware River. From Titusville, head east to Pennington, a quaint town with lovely shops. Take Route 31 North past several scenic wildlife management areas to Ringoes. While you're there, sip and sample wines while taking in the charming views of vineyards and farmland at Old York Cellars Winery or Unionville Vineyards. From Ringoes, go through Sergeantsville and drive on the state's oldest covered bridge, the Green Sergeant's Bridge in Stockton.
While in Stockton, you’ll discover a lovely historic town with fine restaurants and antique shops. Here, the Bull's Island Recreation Area of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, boating, hiking and nature trails. Then, head south along the scenic Delaware River to Lambertville. Stop here to enjoy the many antique shops, flea markets, art galleries and fine restaurants. From Lambertville, loop your way back to Titusville.
Pinelands Tour (map): Begin at Red Lion Circle (intersection of Routes 206 & 70) and travel south through Atsion to Wharton State Forest, the largest single tract of land in the New Jersey State Park System. It’s the ideal spot for boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, nature walks, hunting and horseback riding—plus, the fall foliage is breathtaking!
Also part of Wharton State Forest, Batsto Village is a historic iron-making town that was a principal source of munitions for the Continental Army—and be sure not to miss the popular Batsto Mansion. The town continued to be a major iron producer until the mid-1800s. Today, many of the buildings have been preserved, and modern craftspeople still ply their trades. Head up Route 563 North to Chatsworth, a historic cranberry town.
Farmlands Tour (map): The Farmlands tour begins in Buena Vista. From there, head southeast through Estell Manor to Tuckahoe and then onto the beautiful Belleplain State Forest, where serene Lake Nummy captures reflections of the surrounding deciduous trees bursting into an array of brilliant colors. Nearby is Mauricetown, a historic sea captain's village popular for its many antique shops. Then head north to Millville, the site of WheatonArts, a highly acclaimed artist community showcasing curated collections and exhibitions and inspiring creativity through educational and cultural programming. The Museum of American Glass is a celebration of the craft of glassmaking.
From Millville, head north and visit nearby Bridgeton, the site of the state's largest historic district with more than 2,000 preserved Victorian, Colonial and Federalist buildings. Travel through Centerton and Olivet to nearby Elmer, the site of picturesque Parvin State Park, where you can walk along the shoreline of Parvin Lake and take in sprawling views of the surrounding trees ablaze with fall color. From here, return to Buena Vista.
Before visiting any attractions on your choice of autumn foliage tours, please call ahead or check out their official websites or social media pages to get the latest hours of operation and other need-to-know details.