Places We Protect

High Mountain Park Preserve

New Jersey

Aerial view of a wide, densely forested landscape interspersed with a few buildings.
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 1,200-acre natural oasis amid urban sprawl.

High Mountain in Winter
High Mountain in Winter High Mountain Park Preserve offers year-round hiking and sightseeing. © Jason Whitaker

Trail Plan Survey

We need your help. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is working with The Nature Conservancy to update the official trail system in High Mountain Park Preserve, with a focus on long-term sustainability and high-quality experiences for all user groups. We're asking for your input as part of this process - thank you in advance for your feedback! Click here to take the survey.



A 1,200-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 more than 130 million years.



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


Open year-round during daylight hours.


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


1,260 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.
Closeup of a flying squirrel on a tree.
View across a wide landscape of NYC as seen from the summit of High Mountain.
Close-up of a northern long-eared bat.
Waterfall and rocky stream surrounded by fallen leaves.
Bright orange newt on leaves and damp ground.
Autumn leaves of yellow and orange in forest.
Runner stretching near High Mountain Park Preserve sign.
Fields and trees overlooking views of NYC in the distance.
Icy stream and waterfalls with sunlight streaming through a thin forest.


  • 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. Raptors soar in the skies and songbirds flutter among the native trees.

    Waterfalls: Several small waterfalls and streams can be found along the Yellow and Orange trails. 

    • Information kiosk with trail maps and preserve history
    • 11 miles of hiking trails
    • Paved parking lot at University Drive trailhead (directions in Overview section)
    • Accessible porta potty available at the University Drive trailhead, in service from March-November

    • NYC skyline views
    • 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
    • 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 or feeding animals
Trail sign at High Mountain.
High Mountain Park Preserve Do you have what it takes to hike to the summit of High Mountain? © TNC


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 Clove section of the preserve boasts prehistoric rock shelters. High Mountain has a rich history that is almost literally unbelievable. Before European settlement, The 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.

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.