Top Places to See the Fall Foliage

Fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy a family hike – the sky is a crisp, clear blue, the temperatures are refreshingly brisk, and the trees are awash with color. There are endless parks and trails to view the changing foliage and spend some fun family time together.  Need some suggestions where to start?  Here are just a few of our favorites:

Round Valley Recreation Area - The reservoir covers 200 acres and is the deepest lake in NJ – and the trails offer postcard views of fall foliage.  There are three trails at the park, all accessible from the South Parking Lot: The Cushetuck Trail, at 9 miles, is for more experienced hikers; the Pine Tree Trail (1 mile loop) and Family Hiking and Biking Trail (1/2 mile trail) are more suitable for families with small children.  Read More

Watchung Reservation – There are more than 13 miles of hiking trails in the Watching Reservation, a 2000 plus acre reserve in Union County.  The highly forested land is a great place to enjoy the changing colors. One fun hike is the loop around Surprise Lake.  Make a day of it and bring a picnic, then explore the playgrounds, nature museum, and Deserted Village.  Read More

High Point State Park – The view alone from the top of the High Point Monument (completed in 1930 in honor of war veterans) is a fantastic spot to enjoy the fall colors, but there are also over 50 miles of trails in the park, varying from 1 mile to 18 miles.  Trails along the mountain ridge offer 360-degree views of dense forests.   Read More

Central Park, NYC – 840-acre Central Park in New York City is particularly beautiful in the fall.  No matter which path you take, you will be surrounded by fall foliage.  Some favorites include the 1.58-mile loop around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the pathway around the Great Lawn, Shakespeare Garden, the Ramble, and Sheep’s Meadow. There are enough activities in the park to make a wonderful day out with the kids – there are tons of playgrounds, a zoo, carousel, and pond where you can rent model boats to pilot.  Read More

New Jersey Botanical Gardens – In the fall, the fragrant flowers may be fading, but the garden is a perfect place to catch the changing colors.  From the blanket of Crab Trees to the Woodlands Trail, there are endless areas to explore and enjoy the foliage.  Don’t miss the Japanese Maples in the Azalea Garden, and the Fall Blooming Rain Tree along the Magnolia Walk.  Bring a picnic and enjoy the view.  Read More 

Allaire State Park – Located south of the Manasquan River and north of the Pine Barrens, Allaire State Park has over 20 miles of trails, from easy to more difficult.  Three great hikes to enjoy the foliage include a 2.5-mile loop (Green Trail) that begins at Allaire Village, .5-mile (Yellow Trail) heads to the Manasquan River, and 1.0 mile Nature Trail begins at the Nature Center.  Make sure to also visit Allaire Village, a recreated village with costumed interpreters. Read More 

Cheesquake State Park – Located in two unique ecosystems, the trails at Cheesequake State Park pass though open fields, saltwater and freshwater marshes, a white cedar swamp, Pine Barrens, and a northeastern hardwood forest.   There are five designated trails at the park, ranging from easy to moderate, 1.5 miles – 3.5 miles.  Don’t miss the interpretive center where you can learn about this fascinating ecosystem. There are also live animal displays and exhibits on the local history.  Read More

Lorrimer Sanctuary – This 14 acre wooded sanctuary that was bequeathed to the New Jersey Audubon Society in 1956 has several trails through second growth forests – mostly oak, maple, ash, and beech – and is the perfect place for a family foliage hike. There is also a butterfly garden, hands on exhibits and interpretive displays. Read More

Castle Point Trail (Short Loop) – What’s better than climbing a mountain and getting panoramic views of the fall colors.  You can do that along the Castle Point Trail, which runs along the Ramapo Lake and then climbs to the ruins of an old stone castle and tower. This is a moderate hike – about 3 miles in the Ramapo State Forest. On clear days, from atop the mountain you can see the NYC skyline.  Read More

Jenny Jump State Forest – Jenny Jump is located in Warren County, skirting the Jenny Jump Mountain Range and has magnificent views of the Highlands and the Kittatinny Mountains and Valley to the west and Great Meadows to the east. A great, moderate 2.5-mile trail is the Longer Loop via Summit and Swamp Trails. This ascends the mountain and offers amazing views of the fall foliage (plus beautiful vistas if the surrounding area.).  Read More

Written by Tananbaum, Suburban Mom