Area leaf-peeping sites

| 15 Oct 2012 | 09:40

When it comes to taking in fall foliage, we live in one of the best areas in the country to do so. Heading to High Point State Park for a three-state, sprawling vista or to Stokes State Forrest to surmount Sunrise Mountain along the Appalachian trail are popular places to leaf peep, but there are also some fantastic places off the beaten track for fantastic foliage footage.

New Jersey

Swartswood Lake in Sussex County was once a summertime destination for city folk. When people began to move to the area, the nearby Paulins Kill River was dammed to create a year round community. Both Big Swartswood Lake, Little Swartswood Lake and the Paulins Kill offer areas for foliage viewing. The 26 mile Paulins Kill Trail is one of the most tranquil places to horseback (rides go from Spring Valley Farm), mountain bike, jog or walk while taking in canapes of leaves above the trail.

In Newton, Phil Harden Road ascends into the sky off of Route 94 next to The Fredon Township School. Nicknamed "Fredon Hill" by the local running community, running up that hill has become a sort of right of passage for up-coming youth and teen runners. The rakish, eighth-of-a-mile climb tests body and spirit, but the runners receive an amazing gift at the top. Turn around and the view out over the countryside looking out toward the Delaware Water Gap is breathtaking... especially in the fall.

A couple of miles down Route 94 heading towards Blairstown, hang a right onto Fairview Hill Road. You'll make a slight ascent and then as you reach the crest, an amazing view of farms and foliage sprawls before you.

Kittatinny Valley State Park, in Andover, is filled with beautiful trails. One many may not know about is a climb up to the fire tower. The arduous climb is well worth it to take in several vistas en route to the top of stunning foliage.

Heading south to Stanhope, Lake Musconetcong offers some gorgeous multi-colored foliage reflections in its waters as does Lake Lackawanna located just past Wild West City in Stanhope.

Over in Sparta, drive around Lake Mohawk for some foliage views and soak in the history. In the mid 1920’s, Arthur D. Crane and Herbert Claus looked up the Wallkill River valley and had a vision. They began purchasing parcels, and when enough land had been accumulated, they built a dam across the valley to create Lake Mohawk. The Crane Company built roads and houses around the new lake that were in much demand even during the depression years of the 1930’s. The homes a-midst the foliage are stunning and range in style from those with a German influence to ones right on the lake with walls of windows. The end of the lake is home to the boardwalk perfect for an autumn evening stroll then dinner at one of the area's restaurants.

If it's adventure and foliage you seek, head to Mountain Creek in Vernon and see the leaves from a zip line. Zoom Ziplines takes zippers to the top of Mountain Creek where the vistas begin as, from more than 1,000 feet into the sky, incredible views await sprawling over New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Zipline over kaleidoscopic fall colors in this unique, leaf peeping experience. The attraction includes a suspension bridge and Unimog Ride and a guided tour which lasts an hour and a half to two hours. Participants will be fully trained then guides take guests up to the summit where the tour continues with a series of three or more ziplines that soar over the mountain and lakes. The ziplines will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the peak foliage season, and there are plenty of places to stay in the mountains to further enjoy the season and area farms which feature pumpkin picking, apple picking, cider, baked goods and Halloween attractions.

New York

From Vernon, New Jersey, a neat drive is north on Route 94 into New York State. Hit the various wineries around Warwick, then continue into Florida. No palm trees, but lots of pretty views and small town shopping and activities in Florida. Heading north, an attraction to hit while enjoying the area foliage is the Orange County Flea Market. Open every Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. thru Thanksgiving, shop many vendors with plenty of old and new bargains to choose from and great food. With new vendors every weekend, it's a great destination and is located right on the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown.


Heading northwest, the hamlet of Milford, Penn. is a great area for taking in foliage. Hit the Milford beach to enjoy leaf reflections off of the Delaware River then enjoy some great shopping downtown. Nearby, Foundation Trail provides some foliage plus a good workout in the form of hiking and views of a tributary of the Savatiine River. From Foundation Trail continue on Craft Farm Road. It parallels Craft Brook, which feeds Lily Pond, out to the homestead area (about 1 mile) where Dr. Craft brought his family from NYC in 1865.

With the foliage season about to begin, head to one of the State Parks or discover one of the off the beaten path venues for some leaf peeping.