We mounted an expedition to the highest point of natural elevation in the entire state of New Jersey on the way back from our recent visit to Maine after being notified of its proximity to our intended route(1). This feature is found in the far northwestern corner of the state along the Kittatinny Mountain ridge, and bears the appropriate name of "High Point." It’s but one of several recreational opportunities available at High Point State Park. New Jersey may not get credit for originality but there’s no confusing what it’s all about. The name gets right to the point (pun only somewhat intended).
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I’m the world’s laziest highpointer. I like the idea conceptually but I don’t like to go through a lot of hassle. For me it’s all about ease of access rather than the sense of accomplishment derived from a great technical effort. My previous state highpoint conquests consisted of:
- Mount Washington, New Hampshire: an impressive peak but I drove to the top. The cog railway would have been fun too. Maybe I’ll try that next time.
- Timm’s Hill, Wisconsin: a drive and a short hike.
- Ebright Azimuth, Delaware: another drive, and it’s so nondescript they can’t even call it a hill.
- Point Reno, District of Columbia: I took the subway for cryin’ out loud. And please, no comments about DC not being a state. My list, my rules.
That’s my style and I’m not ashamed of it. I figured New Jersey would have to offer about the same level of difficulty for me to even attempt to reach its 1,803 foot (550 metre) summit. Indeed, anyone who can come up with the $10 park admission fee can climb this mountaintop by automobile. There’s even a huge parking lot right near the top. This one is so easy that it’s considered handicapped accessible.
New Jersey has taken state highpointing to its absolute extreme and built a massive 220 foot obelisk atop the highpoint. Maybe they thoughtfully considered that visitors couldn’t find the spot on their own, or maybe they wanted to send a visual taunt to their neighbors in New York and Pennsylvania. The NJ-NY-PA tripoint is only a few miles away and the tower can be seen clearly in the nearby surrounding areas of all three states.
I thought the views from the summit were breathtaking, and certainly unlike anything I ever expected from New Jersey. Another stereotype bites the dust, I suppose. We were lucky to have arrived on a mild day with low humidity which only enhanced the views and increased the enjoyment. This particular shot looks towards the northwest towards the tripoint with the town of Port Jervis, New York in the background.
It’s possible to climb the tower, and actually I did that. Even my 3-year-old son was able to climb to the top without too much trouble. There are a lot of steps and a lack of air conditioning so it’s a hot climb on a summer day, but it’s certainly doable. Here’s a dirty little secret, though: the view is just as good from the base of the monument. In fact, the view down below may be even better because the tower has one small room with tiny little windows obscured by condensation. The best thing about the tower is the stairwells themselves.
Doesn’t the photo above look like something straight out of an M. C. Escher drawing? Is this view looking up the tower or down the tower? Actually it’s looking up but it’s not an easy thing to determine but the railings give the answer away. I spent almost as much time looking up the shaft of the tower as I did the views outside.
I believe this will probably be my last state highpoint for awhile, or at least until I get out to some of those flat states in the Midwest.
(1) Once again, a tip of the pen to Steve of CTMQ for the suggestion. Oh, and also for letting me know that knowledgeable travelers exit the interstate to clip this little corner of New Jersey to buy gas. I scoffed (really, how much cheaper could it be?) until I looked at the prices, and discovered it was 42 cents per gallon cheaper here, simply by detouring a few feet!