Stokes State Forest, Sussex County, NJ

This was the Jewish Outdoor Club’s Sixth Annual Fun Day. The club sold 240 tickets, and while I didn’t get a count of participants, presumably a high percentage attended. The event was held at Stokes State Forest, in northwestern New Jersey, and included hikes, a barbecue, and workshops.

There were hikes for everybody, including an easy hike (4.6 miles on flat terrain), four moderate hikes (4.5 or 4.8 miles, with 500′ in elevation gain), a moderate-plus hike (5.5 miles, with 500′ in elevation gain), and a challenging hike (advertised as 8 miles, with 650′ in elevation gain, though one of the participants said it was 10 miles). While I ordinarily like longer hikes, the challenging hike was to be conducted at a fast pace (in order to return in time to enjoy the barbecue). I prefer to hike at a moderate pace, and therefore selected one of the moderate hikes.

I had never been to Stokes State Forest before, a 16,000 acre park. It is close to the border with Pennsylvania, and positioned on the northwest side of Kittatinny Mountain ridge, about 25 miles northeast of the Delaware Water Gap.

11:25 a.m.: Check-in was adjacent to Stony Lake, which includes a sandy beach that in warmer weather is enjoyed by swimmers. Our hike began by walking past the small lake.

Stony Lake, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Stony Lake has a nice beach

11:33 a.m.: We entered the forest by hiking southeast on the Stony Brook Trail, which parallels Stony Brook, a small stream that feeds into the lake.

Stony Brook, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Stony Brook

 

Stony Brook, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Stony Brook

11:44 a.m.: The forest includes many red pines planted during the New Deal in the 1930s. In one area, quite a few had fallen during Hurricane Sandy.

Fallen Trees, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Fallen trees

12:11 p.m.: The trail began relatively flat, but eventually began climbing the slope of Kittatinny Ridge.

Ascending Stony Brook Trail toward Kittatinny Ridge, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Ascending Stony Brook Trail toward Kittatinny Ridge

12:13 p.m.: Chany crosses over a brook:

Crossing a Brook, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Crossing a Brook

12:21 p.m.: The trail crossed Sunrise Mountain Road, and reentered the woods.

12:27 p.m.: The Stony Brook Trail ended, and we turned right (south-southwest) onto the Appalachian Trail. For the most part we hiked through unbroken forest, though we finally reached a scenic view, at the intersection with the Tower Trail.

1:10 p.m.: I pose for a photo, looking down from the Kittatinny ridge toward the north.

Posing on Kittatinny Ridge at Intersection of Appalachian Trail and Tower Trail, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Posing on Kittatinny Ridge at Intersection of Appalachian Trail and Tower Trail

A fused HDR image from the same scenic view:

View from Kittatinny Ridge at Intersection of Appalachian Trail and Tower Trail, NJ, Stokes State Forest, NJ

View from Kittatinny Ridge at Intersection of Appalachian Trail and Tower Trail, NJ

1:22 p.m.: Birds were circling overhead:

Birds Circling, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Birds circling

1:23 p.m.: The Tower Trail is named for the fire tower at the top. I climbed it, for a panoramic view of the area:

View from Fire Tower on Kittatinny Ridge, Stokes State Forest, NJ

View from Fire Tower on Kittatinny Ridge

1:40 p.m.: While we were enjoying the scenic view, we were also getting hungry, and eventually began our descent on the Tower Trail, heading north.

Descending Tower Trail from Kittatinny Ridge, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Descending Tower Trail from Kittatinny Ridge

1:56 p.m.: The trail crossed Sunrise Mountain Road, and reentered the woods.

2:30 p.m.: Wild flowers:

Wild Flowers, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Wild Flowers

2:32 p.m.: Hurricane damage was also visible on the Tower Trail:

Fallen Trees, Stokes State Forest, NJ

Fallen trees

We returned to the area near Stony Lake, which included a pavilion where the caterer had hamburgers, hot dogs, and other delicacies prepared for us. After lunch, there were a number of workshops on different topics, run simultaneously.

4:24 p.m.: I attended a workshop presented by Dr. Simcha Nath, on Backcountry Safety. Here, he demonstrates how to build a rope litter, a makeshift stretcher for carrying a wounded or ill person:

Demonstration of a Rope Litter

Demonstration of a Rope Litter

Happily, it was only a demonstration.

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