Places We Protect

High Mountain Park Preserve

New Jersey

Aerial view of High Mountain.
High Mountain Park Preserve A natural oasis amid urban sprawl, unique High Mountain Park Preserve is located in the Preakness Range of the Watchung Mountains. © TNC

A 1200-acre natural oasis amid urban sprawl.

Overview

Description

A 1200-acre natural oasis amid urban sprawl, High Mountain Park Preserve features rolling and sometimes steep terrain that winds through woodlands and wetlands. Its 11.5 miles of trails in the Watchung Mountains reward visitors with vigorous hikes, panoramic summit views of New York City and northern New Jersey, and peaceful waterfalls. The nature preserve is the largest tract of forested land east of the Highlands.

The preserve is home to rare and threatened plants and wildlife, including mountain mint and northern long-eared bats, as well as common local species like flying squirrels, wild turkeys, chipmunks and white-tailed deer. The mountain's bedrock, of volcanic origin, dates back over 130 million years.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

*Parking area is on University Drive on the campus of William Paterson U. in Wayne.

Hours

Open year-round during daylight hours.

Highlights

Photography, Hiking, Waterfall, Wildlife Viewing, Summit Views, Mountain Biking

Size

1260 acres

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Photos from High Mountain Park Preserve

Tag your preserve visits on Instagram with #HighMountain to have your photos featured here!

Sunlight streaming through trees in forest.
Flying squirrel on tree, close-up of bark.
View of NYC from summit of High Mountain.
Close-up of a northern long-eared bat.
Waterfall and stream surrounded by falled fall leaves.
Bright orange newt on leaves and damp ground.
Autumn leaves of yellow and orange in forest.
Runner stretching near High Mountain sign.
Fields and trees overlooking views of NYC.
Icy stream and waterfalls with sunlight streaming.

Visit

  • What to See

    Don’t Miss: Sweeping views of New York City and Northern New Jersey from the top of the Summit trail.

    Plants and Animals: The preserve is home to rare and threatened plants and wildlife, including mountain mint and northern long-eared bats, as well as common local species like flying squirrels, wild turkeys, chipmunks and white-tailed deer.

  • Preserve Amenities
    • Welcome kiosk with trail maps and preserve history
    • 11 miles of hiking trails
  • Visitor Checklist
    • Sturdy hiking boots or walking shoes
    •  Plenty of water
    •  Cellphone in case you get lost
    • Camera
    • Binoculars
    • Bug Spray
    • Sunscreen for warmer months
    • Snacks to enjoy at the summit
  • Preserve Guidelines
    • Visitors should stay on marked trails
    • Please carry out all garbage with you
    • All dogs must be on a leash and must be picked up after
    • No fishing or hunting, trapping or collecting.
    • No motorized vehicles or aircraft.
    • No horseback riding, camping, fires, firearms, rock climbing, spelunking and feeding animals.
    • 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.
Trail sign at High Mountain.
High Mountain Park Preserve Do you have what it takes to hike to the summit of High Mountain? © TNC

Background

Established in 1993, High Mountain Park Preserve is jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy, Wayne Township and the State of New Jersey. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has assisted with creating and maintaining trails at the site since the 1940s. Visitors can take TNC’s High Mountain Challenge to try to beat a NJ ultramarathoner’s tim...

Established in 1993, High Mountain Park Preserve is jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy, Wayne Township and the State of New Jersey. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has assisted with creating and maintaining trails at the site since the 1940s. Visitors can take TNC’s High Mountain Challenge to try to beat a NJ ultramarathoner’s time (15 minutes and 3 seconds) to the summit, 800 feet above sea level.

The mountain's bedrock, of volcanic origin, dates back over 130 million years. The Franklin Clove section of the preserve boasts prehistoric rock shelters. High Mountain has a rich history that is almost literally unbelievable. Before European settlement, Franklin Clove was home to the Lenni Lenape people—as far as ten thousand years ago its cliffs were inhabited by their ancestors who made lean-to structures against overhanging rocks. There are rumors that during the American Revolution George Washington’s soldiers used High Mountain to watch the movements of British ships in New York harbor—skyscrapers now block the view of the water, but the view of New York City lends credence to this tale.

The preserve wasn’t protected for bats, however, and it wasn’t protected for history, it was protected for a rare plant called Torrey’s mountain mint. The plant still survives in the preserve and has now become an unexpected umbrella species of sorts, protecting Northern long-eared bats that nobody had foreseen would be threatened.

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Nearby Preserves

Need more nature? Visit The Nature Conservancy's other preserves.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map

Take the High Mountain Challenge!

Get yourself to the top of High Mountain Summit. Take a selfie. Earn a free gift.