22 Best Places to See New Jersey Fall Foliage

Golden autumn foliage around New Jersey lake in Appalachian mountains

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On the hunt for a jaw-dropping fall colors experience in the Garden State?

This guide will take you through our pick of the top places to witness New Jersey fall foliage, kicking things off in northern NJ and winding our way down to the southern tip.

And, for your convenience, we’ve also included a fall foliage report to help you pinpoint the perfect time to visit the places featured in this article.

So, get ready to explore the following places this fall and make sure your phone is fully charged – you won’t want to miss capturing these stunning views.

You may also like New Jersey fall activities or find all of our New Jersey guide here.

Places to See Fall Foliage in New Jersey

Appalachian Trail

The iconic Appalachian Trail crosses through the state, offering some of the best fall foliage in New Jersey as it meanders through the rugged terrain of the Kittatinny Mountains.

The trail itself is a piece of a 2,000-mile journey stretching nearly all the way down the East Coast, with 72 miles snaking through central New Jersey.

It goes through several state parks mentioned in this list, including the Delaware Water Gap, Kittatinny Valley, and High Point.

Hikers can explore sections of the trail, with various lengths and difficulties, each providing a different perspective of the vibrant autumn landscape.

While many visitors will choose to explore portions of the trail at certain state parks, others may have the time and interest to dedicate multiple days to hiking through the journey along the northern tip of New Jersey and ultimately leading to Pennsylvania.

Golden autumn foliage around New Jersey lake in Appalachian mountains

High Point State Park

Soak in panoramic views from New Jersey’s highest point at High Point State Park.

Fall is a special time here, with leaves turning various shades of red and gold along winding trails and stunning elevated viewpoints.

There are many large lakes and winding creeks throughout the forest, with campgrounds and picnic areas perfect for taking in the sights of foliage in New Jersey.

If you follow the Tower trail past Stony Lake, you will pass Stony Brook Falls, a series of waterfalls in the middle of the woodlands.

Take a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike to one of the recommended viewpoints and enjoy outdoor activities like picnicking and birdwatching while you’re here.

Aerial view of Port Jervis New York from High Point State Park New Jersey in fall

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

For a unique foliage experience along the Delaware River, head to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

The trails here are perfect for nature lovers, especially during the fall when the colors are at their peak.

Explore the winding paths and be sure to visit the waterfalls scattered throughout the area.

Check out our guide to New Jersey fall getaway trips for more vacation ideas with fall foliage.

Aerial view of fall colors at Delaware Water Gap at New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Stokes State Forest

Stokes State Forest is a sprawling natural haven coming alive with vibrant hues during the fall season.

The best time to visit is usually in late October when the leaves are ablaze with color. 

Don’t miss hiking the trails and breathtaking viewpoints that offer sweeping vistas of the forest’s transformation.

The Normanook Tower is a moderately challenging hike that will guide you to the top of Sunrise Mountain, which is a piece of the Appalachian Trail and provides panoramic views of the surrounding forest.

There are also multiple picturesque lakes surrounding the forest with great hiking trails and views of fall foliage in New Jersey, including Lake Owassa, Culver Lake, and Lake Ashore.

Wawayanda State Park

Wawayanda State Park offers a pristine lake and wetlands, creating a stunning backdrop for autumn foliage in New Jersey, along the northern border neighboring New York state.

If it’s a warm day, consider taking a stop at Wawayanda Beach, a stretch of sand along the northern shore of Wawayanda Lake that is very popular for swimming, sunbathing during warmer months, and other water activities in fall.

When it comes to hiking trails, the most popular option by a large margin is the Stairway to Heaven Trail, which connects with the Appalachian Trail and provides the best high-vantage-point view looking out at miles and miles of flatlands stretching to the horizon.

With lakes for boating and swimming, trails navigating forest terrain, and picturesque mountain views, Wawayanda State Park has a bit of everything for the autumn traveler.

You may also find our guide to Upstate New York in fall handy.

Ringwood State Park

Take in the sights of northern New Jersey at Ringwood State Park, full of forest, creeks and lakes, with trails equipped for biking, and hiking.

The most popular trail is a 10-mile high-difficulty hike known as Stonetown Circular Trail, featuring dense forest, steep climbs, and scenic spots alongside creeks and the Monksville Reservoir.

If the weather is warm enough earlier in the fall, hike over to Shepherd Lake Recreation Area, where you can rent a canoe or just sit by the water for a few hours.

Look out for the blacksmith building, one of the few standing Colonial structures. It is thought that enslaved people were forced to work here.

If you have the time, you should also stop at Ringwood Manor, a 51-room Victorian mansion originally built in the early 1800s and provides guided tours through the end of October.

It has multiple buildings — with some rooms featuring artifacts — and a garden to explore.

Old looking outhouse at Ringwood Manor in New Jersey

Ramapo Valley County Reservation

Immediately east of Ringwood State Park, Ramapo Valley County Reservation is a massive 4,000-acre park filled with hiking trails, creeks, and waterfalls.

You can kayak along the Ramapo River, which winds north to south through the center of the park and has plenty of popular access points in the central area of the park.

If you are looking for hiking trails, consider the Vista Loop Trail, an incredibly popular hike that traverses along and over the Ramapo River and past Scarlet Oak Pond.

A key point in this trail is Hawk Rock Overlook, where you can see across the flatlands to the north, and even get a glimpse of the New York City skyline on a clear day.

Palisades Interstate Park

The dramatic cliffs of the Palisades Interstate Park along the Hudson River offer a unique backdrop for fall foliage.

With a view of Yonkers of New York City on the other side of the river, Palisades Interstate ventures north and south with various hillsides and lookouts that are perfect for observing fall colors.

If you’re looking to visit NYC next, check out these things to do in New York City in fall.

Alpine Lookout is one of the premier destinations along the trail, with a concrete trail along the edge of a tall cliff that makes for stunning views across the river all the way to the horizon.

One of the most popular trails is Carpenter’s Loop, a 5-mile trail sweeping into the forest, climbing rocky hills, and, at times, strolling along quiet paths along the river and even under the George Washington Bridge.

Kittatinny Valley State Park

Kittatinny Valley State Park welcomes you with rolling hills and diverse habitats.

Explore the trails that are perfect for fall foliage enthusiasts, including the Kittatinny Valley Park Trail, a 7-mile loop that passes Lake Aeroflex and Whites Pond.

Don’t forget your binoculars for birdwatching and your camera for nature photography opportunities, especially when passing large lakes or scenic high points.

Jenny Jump State Forest

Named after a legendary Native American princess, Jenny Jump State Forest is immediately south of the Delaware Water Gap, offering stunning views during the fall season.

If you come to Jenny Jump, hike the 6-mile Ghost Lake Trail, which takes you through woodlands and past a scenic glacial lake.

Waterloo Village

Immerse yourself in history at Waterloo Village, a restored 19th-century canal town.

The various canals and colonial buildings make for absolutely jaw-dropping views, especially when lined with trees of all colors in autumn.

There are churches recreated to the colonial era, as well as old homes that have been fully preserved, with working water mills flowing delicately with the passing canal.

Viewers could spend all day taking in the sights of rolling hills and cobblestone pathways, and by the end feel they have truly traveled to a different time.

Explore the village’s museums and structures while surrounded by autumn’s lovely colors, with many educational programs throughout the year.

One popular program is Winakung, an interactive historical program that provides insights into the culture of the Lenape Native Americans who lived on this land for thousands of years.

In this program, there are opportunities to learn about hunting, fishing, construction, along other cultural activities that really put you in the shoes of the indigenous people who once lived with the land in most of New Jersey.

Mule Barn At Waterloo Historical Village along the Morris Canal in Stanhope New Jersey

Verona Park

Verona Park in Verona NJ is another picturesque destination well worth visiting during the fall season to witness the stunning display of foliage.

This 54-acre park boasts a diverse range of tree species, like maples, oaks, and dogwoods with leaves that turn into pretty fall colors during the season 

The park’s walking paths and serene lake make it perfect for a leisurely stroll, a family picnic, or just enjoying the autumn scenery. 

You can even go paddling on the lake or relax and watch the boats go by.

Brookdale Park

Brookdale Park lies within the municipalities of Montclair and Bloomfield in New Jersey and is a great place to see colorful fall leaves. 

The park covers around 121 acres and features deciduous and evergreen trees that change colors in the autumn. 

You can enjoy leisurely strolls along paved paths and take in the stunning views of the changing foliage.

There are picnic areas where families or friends can relax and hang out.

And if you’re into fun and games, the park has playgrounds, sports fields, and even a dog park for everyone to have a good time.

The park is also conveniently located near Newark and Hoboken, a 40-minute drive away, making it an accessible destination for people in the area.

Morristown National Historical Park

This park preserves the history of the American Revolution and has beautiful New Jersey fall foliage.

Not a traditional state park in the same manner as many of the other items on this list, Morristown National Historical Park is nestled in the middle of the bustling town of Morristown.

There are many historic centers around this park, most notably the Morris County Historical Society 68 Morris Ave) and the Morris Museum (6 Normandy Heights Rd).

There is also plenty of green space that will make for stunning autumn views like the Frelinghuysen Arboretum which is home to stunning colonial architecture and gardens that are designed with fall themes around October and November.

Explore the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center (586 Tempe Wick Rd) and Washington’s Headquarters Museum (30 Washington Pl) as well, with wooded trails lined with historic markers that tell the stories that have decorated this town over hundreds of years.

You may also check out our guide to things to do in Morristown NJ.

Hacklebarney State Park

Hacklebarney State Park offers a nice setting with a meandering river and cascading waterfalls, making for one of the best places to see fall foliage in New Jersey.

North of Pottersville and Fairmount, Hackelbarney is a large natural space featuring the Lamington River winding through its center.

There is plenty to do around this park, such as the Hacklebarney Farms Cider Mill, an apple orchard with a beloved menu of fresh-made apple cider, along with other apple-themed treats.

There is also the Cooper Gristmill, a historic mill from the 1800s that is still preserved today as a historical museum.

Alstede Farms(1 Alstede Farms Ln, Chester) is another popular destination, offering apple picking, pumpkin picking, scenic hayrides, and a corn maze.

Stony Hill Gardens (8 Rte 24, Chester,) is near Hacklebarney as well, featuring a farm market with fresh produce and flowers, as well as a charming country store filled with fall decorations and gifts.

Explore the best trails for fall foliage observation and marvel at the unique geology of the area, while also enjoying the many stores and activities along the way.

Sunlight peers through te trees in early Autumn in Hacklebarney State Park in Morris County New Jersey

Columbia Trail

This scenic rail trail in High Bridge provides a leisurely hike amid fall colors, perfect for families and those seeking a gentle stroll.

The trail is approximately 15 miles long and follows the route of the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey, taking hikers through various scenic points of Washington Township.

While many New Jersey trails are deep in state parks, Columbia Trail winds through the quaint towns of Long Valley and Califon, making for wonderful views of picturesque suburban fall.

You will also be able to hike directly through Voorhees State Park, which will take you alongside the Raritan River to the observation deck of the Lake Solitude Waterfall.

Sourland Mountain Preserve

Discover the rugged beauty of the Sourland Mountains, where hiking trails lead to panoramic views of the autumn landscape.

A ten-minute drive from downtown Hillsborough, the Sourland Mountain Preserve is a popular destination for locals to enjoy hiking and scenic views, especially in the fall.

The Ridge Trail, at 3.4 miles, takes you to the highest point in the preserve, offering stunning vistas of fall foliage and the surrounding countryside.

This high point is also well-known for providing the best views in central New Jersey of the distant New York Skyline jutting over the horizon on a clear day.

Sourland Mountain Preserve is also just around a 20-minute drive to Princeton NJ where you can find fun things to do.

Washington Crossing State Park

Combine history and foliage at Washington Crossing State Park, a site of Revolutionary War significance.

It’s located in Mercer County, just 20 minutes north of Trenton along the Delaware River.

The name of this state park is related to the famous crossing of the Delaware River by George Washington and the rest of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

The trail itself is where the army traveled before and after crossing the river, eventually arriving in Trenton and engaging in one of the war’s most pivotal battles.

One of the most popular hiking trails is the Delaware Canal Towpath, a 12-mile hiking trail along the Delaware River that boasts some of the most vibrant fall colors in New Jersey.

Due to the riverside nature of the trails, heavy rainfall will make for a very muddy hiking experience, so you may either dress accordingly or wait until a day that is more dry.

Allaire State Park

Step back in time at Allaire State Park, a historic park located near the town of Farmingdale.

Guests are encouraged to explore the historic village of Allaire, with ironworks, a general store, and beautiful parkland adorned with fall foliage.

There are also many events and activities fitting for fall, including pumpkin carving contests, Halloween-themed celebrations, and workshops for various historic activities.

Check out our guide to NJ state parks for more ideas.

Allaire State Park in New Jersey's fall color leaves on path

Wharton State Forest

Located in the heart of the Pinelands National Reserve, Wharton State Forest features tranquil trails that wind through a unique pine-barren ecosystem.

Tucked directly inland of Long Beach Island, Wharton State Forest is an expansive forest featuring countless miles of hiking trails and scenic landmarks.

One of the most popular hiking trails in Wharton State is Batsto Lake Trail, a 4-mile hiking trail that winds around Batsto Lake, across beautiful old bridges and dirt trails through the pine trails.

Batsto Village offers a glimpse into the state’s industrial history, as well as archaeological history dating back thousands of years, and can be an excellent afternoon tour while you are exploring the forest.

Batona Trail Loop is the longest popular trail in the forest, with a moderate difficulty that travels 13 miles through the forest along the Mullica River.

Historic Cold Spring Village

Located in Cape May, this living history museum provides a unique backdrop for fall exploration.

While Cape May may not be at the top of mind when it comes to fall in New Jersey, inland destinations like Historic Cold Spring Village are great destinations for fall-themed activities.

Historic Cold Spring Village is a town that has been redesigned to look and feel like a colonial village from the 1700s.

Guests can tour local mills, blacksmith quarters, and fully-preserved historical buildings, learning about the history firsthand from trained actors.

Wander through the recreated village and enjoy the seasonal festivities, all with red and orange leaves drifting down from above.

Read our guide to the best things to do in Cape May and discover fun activities in this city.

Cape May Point State Park

Cape May Point State Park, at New Jersey’s southern tip, is perfect for fall leaf peeping, with the best colors usually in late October. 

The Cape May Lighthouse, one of the highlights of the place, offers splendid views from the top. 

Fall colors can also be seen around the 100-foot-tall World War II Lookout Tower.

Additionally, you can enjoy a quick 1.8-mile walk on the Cape May Point Trail, and don’t forget to bring your binoculars for birdwatching, as it’s a hotspot for migrating bird species.

Cape May is also featured in our guide to the best beaches in NJ.

The World War II Lookout Tower, Cape May, New Jersey

New Jersey Foliage Report

Visitors to New Jersey with the intent of seeing fall colors on their journey should be very purposeful when it comes to exactly when they visit.

Depending on the specific week in October, different portions of the state may be going through different stages of fall foliage.

While there are certainly going to be natural factors that may sway the fall colors, the general rule of thumb is:

Northern New Jersey: Early October

  • High Point State Park
  • Delaware Water Gap National Park
  • Wawayanda State Park
  • Stokes State Forest
  • Ringwood State Park
  • Ramapo Valley County Reservation
  • Palisades Interstate Park
  • Waterloo Village
  • Jenny Jump State Forest

Central New Jersey: Mid-October

  • Kittatinny Valley State Park
  • Washington Crossing State Park
  • Wharton State Forest
  • Morristown National Historical Park
  • Hacklebarney State Park

Southern New Jersey: Late October to Early November

  • Columbia Trail
  • Sourland Mountain Preserve
  • Allaire State Park
  • Historic Cold Spring Village
  • Cape May Point State Park

These rules will vary every year and could be swayed by sudden shifts in temperature or strong storms.

Make sure you double-check the most current foliage reports while you are planning your trip, to make sure that you experience the best New Jersey has to offer in terms of fall colors.

Fall leaves on the ground.

Final Thoughts

Which of the places featured above are you looking forward to visiting the most this fall?

Let us know in the comments- we’d love to hear them.

Will you be in New Jersey this winter? Here is our guide to snow tubing spots for all the family!

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