Hiking at the Sourland Mountain Preserve in New Jersey

sourland boulders

The Sourland Mountain Preserve is a great place to hike and climb on 180 million-year-old rocks and boulders that were once underwater.

When I wrote about my trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey, I briefly touched upon this preserve, but now it’s time to go into further detail for those who are interested in checking out the Sourland Mountain Hiking Trail.

The preserve can be found in Hillsborough and Montgomery Townships in Somerset County. Just pull into the parking lot and start at the trailhead.

sourland trail

This is not a hardcore, hours-long hike for extreme backpackers, nor is it technically demanding.

It’s more appropriate for the casual hiker who wants to spend an hour or two observing nature and visiting some insanely old boulders.

Sights From My Sourland Mountain Hiking Trail

The man hiking trail here is simply called the Sourland Mountain Trail Loop, if you look it up on a site like AllTrails. It’s a 2-mile loop, although you can choose a 5.4-mile loop instead if you prefer.

There are actually many connected trails in this area, including Roaring Rocks Trail, Maple Flat, and Devil’s Half-Acre. See this list of Sourland Mountain trail maps.

There’s a small stream near the entrance, and after that it’s all trees and rocks. There’s a decent amount of uphill walking, but it’s not too strenuous.

sourland mountain preserve hiking stream

The boulders are sedimentary and igneous rocks of Late Triassic and Early Jurassic age. Many of them are piled together so you can climb to the top and take some imposing photos.

Climb way to the top and get those winning Instagram shots!

sourland mountain preserve

Sourland Mountain Preserve Hiking Details

I saw a few people riding mountain bikes up the hill, which was an impressive display of leg power. People who have the strength and stamina to do that are just on another level.

I stuck with the walking trail myself. Despite the ridge, there aren’t any great scenic views, as the trees block the ability to see great distances.

The Sourland Mountain Preserve is a 17-mile ridge in central New Jersey. Although it seems really high when you’re hiking, the highest elevation point is only 568 feet.

This is the largest contiguous forest in this part of the state, comprising about 90 square miles. I love that even in a crowded state like Jersey, you can still find a place to enjoy the wilds of nature!

Supposedly, deer, fox and even coyote are found in the preserve, though I doubt they frequently come near the designated trails since those areas are so popular among hikers. I didn’t encounter wildlife when I visited.

There are black bears present in the preserve as well, though usually in the more remote sections, since they try to avoid human contact.

Overall, the Sourland Mountain Preserve is a decent way to spend an afternoon if you’re looking for a taste of nature in a densely-populated state. It’s not quite like climbing the giant boulders at Joshua Tree, but it’s still pretty fun!

As noted, this preserve isn’t the place for scenic viewpoints. But it’s worth hiking here if you like seeing ancient rocks, and maybe even climbing on them.

Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh actually lived on Sourland Mountain. That’s where the tragic disappearance of his baby took place.

UPDATE: There’s new a Sourland music festival that visitors may be interested in. The Sourland Mountain Fest takes place in July of this year. The 5-hour fest features local bands, food vendors, and craft vendors.

Have you ever hiked in the Sourland Mountain Preserve?