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New Jersey

High Mountain Park Nature Preserve

hLocation: Wayne Township, North Haledon Borough, Passaic County and Franklin Lakes Borough, Bergen County

Owned by: Wayne Township, The Nature Conservancy and State of New Jersey

Acres Protected: 1260

Established: 1993

Why is This Land Special?
A natural oasis amid urban sprawl, unique High Mountain Park is located in the Preakness Range of the Watchung Mountains. Its rolling and often steep terrain provides 11.5 miles of often-challenging hiking trails. Panoramic vistas include stunning views from High Mountain's summit, where you can see New York City and much of northern New Jersey.

The nature preserve is the largest tract of forested land east of the Highlands, encompassing woodlands and wetlands. Along with its open space value, it harbors rare and threatened plants and wildlife.

Several rock shelters in the Franklin Clove section of the nature preserve have been determined to be sites of prehistoric human habitation. Native Americans of the Lenape tribe wintered in the Clove during the 1600s.

It is also said that when Henry Hudson sailed to America in 1609, the first land he sighted above the horizon was the summit of High Mountain. During the American Revolution, when General Washington was headquartered nearby, colonial troops reportedly used High Mountain’s summit  to monitor British troop movements in and around New York Harbor. High Mountain has been a popular hiking destination for more than century. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has been active at High Mountain since the 1940s, creating and maintaining the trails.

The nature preserve is open year-round from dawn until dusk. It offers rigorous hiking, so wear sturdy boots or walking shoes. Bring a cellphone (in case you get lost or need help), binoculars, a camera, plenty of water, and bug spray and sunblock in the warmer months.

  • Please stay on the blazed trails.
  • No fishing or hunting, trapping or collecting.
  • No motorized vehicles or aircraft.
  • No horseback riding, camping, fires, firearms, rock climbing, spelunking and feeding animals.
  • No unleashed pets.
  • Groups seeking to use High Mountain Park Preserve for an organized event must register with and obtain park permits from Wayne Township's Department of Parks and Recreation.

Lots of hiking trails are available.

The Preserve is open from dawn until dusk.

View a Trail Map.


From Eastern NJ/NYC: Take Route 80 West; Exit at exit 53 onto Route 23 north. Proceed on Route 23 North 1 mile to Alps Rd. Turn right and go 2 miles to traffic light at the intersection of Alps and Ratzer Rds. Turn right on Ratzer Rd. Proceed 1 mile and turn left onto Valley Rd. Continue 2/3 miles and turn right onto Hamburg Tpk. Proceed 1 mile and turn left onto College Rd. (same turn as for Wayne General Hospital). Proceed uphill for 1 mile with the William Paterson University campus on your right. At the top of the hill, turn right into parking lot #6 (at the recreation center). Use the top tier of the parking lot. The trailhead sign is across College Road opposite the parking lot entrance.

From Southern/Central NJ: Take Garden State Parkway North to exit 153B (on left). Follow Route 3 to Route 46 West to Route 23 North. Follow directions from Eastern NJ/NYC.

From Western NJ: Take Route 80 East to exit 53. Proceed 1/3 mile on Route 46 East. Exit on Riverview Dr./Wayne. Go 1 mile to Valley Rd. Continue on Valley Rd. and make right at intersection with Hamburg Tpk. Follow directions from Eastern NJ/NYC.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

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Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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