Hike the Actual Stairway to Heaven in New Jersey

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Woman hiking the Stairway to Heaven NJ

New Jersey isn’t known for its vast array of landscapes. People don’t travel to the Garden State to bask in the beauty of glacier-peaked mountains or deep red canyons. There aren’t lush rainforests or wetlands filled with a variety of wildlife. However, there is one place in particular known for its scenic beauty. If you haven’t visited the Stairway to Heaven, NJ, it’s time to put it on your list. Let’s take a closer look!

What Is the Stairway to Heaven in NJ? 

This 2.6-mile out-and-back trail in Wawayanda State Park is a moderate hike. With a rating of 4.5/5 stars on AllTrails, the Stairway to Heaven trail is enjoyed by many hikers. You’ll head to the top of Wawayanda Mountain on the Appalachian Trail. The Stairway to Heaven is a set of stairs leading to a spectacular view toward the trail’s end.

There are lots of rocks, and scrambling is required. At the top, hikers enjoy a beautiful pay-off: stunning views of the Vernon Valley, Pochuck Mountain, and the Catskills. The trail is very busy on the weekends, so it’s best to visit early in the morning or on a weekday. Additionally, the trail is pet-friendly.

Where Is Stairway to Heaven Hike in NJ? 

Wawayanda State Park is right on the border of New Jersey and New York. From New York City, it’s about a two-hour drive northwest. The trailhead is on the northwest side of Wawayanda State Park along Highway 94.

Park at the Appalachian Boardwalk Entrance to start the Stairway to Heaven Trail. AllTrails has the exact starting location marked at 450 Appalachian Trail, Vernon Township, NJ 07462.

How Long Does It Take to Climb Stairway to Heaven? 

The Stairway to Heaven, NJ, has a set of metal stairs leading to the top of the mountain at the trail’s end. The 360-degree views from the top of the stairs are absolutely breathtaking.

The hike continues for less than half a mile to the top of the mountain, with even more amazing views. While the Stairway to Heaven hike is challenging, it is also rewarding. It generally takes about 90 to 120 minutes to complete the 2.6-mile out-and-back trail.

What Is the Elevation of Stairway to Heaven 

The Stairway to Heaven, NJ, has an elevation gain of 889 feet. For the first half-mile, you have a steady incline of about a 0% to 10% grade. Then the grade increases for the next half-mile, with inclines climbing above 30% at certain points.

After about 1 mile, you reach an elevation of about 1,230 feet at a beautiful scenic overlook. You reach the top of the mountain at the final elevation of 1,345 feet.

Traveler’s Tip: Take a risk and discover Are You Brave Enough to Walk the Shark Bridge in NJ?

Man hiking in Stairway to Heaven in NJ in the fall

Is the Stairway to Heaven Walk in NJ Hard? 

The Stairway to Heaven, NJ, is rated as “moderate” on AllTrails. Whether you’re walking uphill or downhill, the rocky surfaces are challenging. Especially if you don’t have good, sturdy hiking shoes, it won’t be easy to climb over the rocks.

Most visitors report the hike is steep and challenging but nothing exceptionally difficult. Visitors also suggest going during the week to avoid the crowded trail on the weekends.

Are There Toilets at Stairway to Heaven? 

Bathrooms are at the Wawayanda State Park visitor center and the Wawayanda Lake Day Use Area. There’s also a playground, a first aid station, picnic tables, canoe rentals, a boat launch, concessions, and a swimming beach at the Day Use Area.

There are no toilets along the Stairway to Heaven trail. Keep in mind the gate is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The park office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

However, the parking lot for the Appalachian Trail and the Stairway to Heaven trail is not inside the state park. You’ll need to drive to the state park to access the facilities. Take Highway 94 to the Warwick Turnpike.

Woman looking at view from the top of Stairway to Heaven in NJ

What Do I Need to Bring With Me? 

There’s an entrance fee if you plan on visiting Wawayanda State Park before or after your hike. On weekdays, New Jersey residents pay $5 and non-residents pay $10. On weekends and holidays, New Jersey residents pay $10 and non-residents pay $20. State park passes are available for New Jersey residents at $50 and non-residents at $75.

If you’re just driving to the Appalachian Trail parking lot, you won’t need to pay the entrance fee to the park. But make sure to pack typical hiking gear. Wear sturdy shoes, especially with the steep inclines and bouldering required along the trail. Pack water, snacks, a first aid kit, a whistle, and anything else you’d typically take for a good, challenging hike. Always tell someone where you’re going before going on a hike.

Traveler’s Tip: Take a dip and Beat the NJ Heat at Atsion Lake.

Is the Stairway to Heaven NJ Hike Worth It?

It really does feel like you’re climbing to heaven on the Stairway to Heaven trail. The views are awe-inspiring. If you can visit on a less trafficked day, you’ll enjoy the adventure even more.

The next time you visit northern New Jersey, check out the Stairway to Heaven. Head on over to Wawayanda State Park and make a day of your outdoor adventure. Go for a swim, a canoe ride, or cast a line in the lake. It’s a great way to spend a day!

When will you visit the Stairway to Heaven, NJ?

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