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 visiting.

The preserve can be found in Hillsborough and Montgomery Townships in Somerset County. Just pull into the parking lot and start at the trailhead. There are actually many trails in this area – see this list of Sourland Mountain trail maps. My hike was #20.

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 Hike

There’s a small stream near the entrance, and after that it’s all trees and rocks.

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

The main trail is a 5.4-mile loop within a decent amount of uphill walking. I saw a few people riding mountain bikes up the hill, which was an impressive display of leg power. I just 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.

sourland boulders

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. Find additional hiking details here.

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. There are black bears present in the preserve as well, though usually in the very 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!

UPDATE: There’s new a Sourland music festival that visitors may be interested in. The Sourland Mountain Fest takes places on June 22 of this year.

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4 Comments

  1. How fun that you discovered this pieces of nature in an unexpected place. Not all hikes need to be heavy weight or long, sometimes it’s fun to take a short break from the city and then return.

  2. When I first saw the title of the topic, I thought for sure I was reading an old topic because I knew you had mentioned this before. I like the idea of a nice casual hike like this. With my bad ankles, I’d be a little suspicious of all the rocks and boulders though. Definitely a unique hiking spot!

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