September 23, 2017
Dreams really do happen. I’ve now accomplished just over a mile of the AT! This weekend I headed to Stokes State Park in NJ for a celebration of turning 29 with one of my college roommates. (Road Trip for #thirtybeforethirty accomplished!) I had done a little research ahead of time and knew that Sunrise Mountain was what I wanted to tackle this weekend.
We grabbed a map and she suggested that we should drive up Sunrise Mountain Road and park in one of the lots along to way and do a loop. It would likely be a 4-4.5 mile loop. That sounded good to us, so we hopped in the car and headed on our way.
We reached the parking lot (after a stop at a lookout to take some shots of our first view) and decided to head up the Tinsley Trail (which would meet with the AT) and take us right to the summit of Sunrise. You’ll find this trail head just before reaching the second to last parking lot on Sunrise Mountain Road, heading towards the trail from the parking lot, we chose to head “up” to the left instead of “down” to the right.
We reached the summit in good timing after 1.1 miles. Here, we stopped for a snack, water break, some chatting with others on the summit, and my personal favorite – photos!
I took several shots of the view from multiple angles (as it is almost a 360 degree view at the top) and then spent a while capturing some of the nature on display. I even chased some butterflies, but they were not being photogenic!
We had a little trouble finding the trail down, though that may have been a little user-error. Since I was tracking the hike on the Gaia GPS app, I wasn’t looking at the trail map of the state park that we picked up at the office. On the National Geographic map included in my app, it looked as though the trail left from near the parking lot about 0.1 miles from the summit, but that is not the case. Continue along the AT without branching off to the parking lot, and eventually you will come to a side trail marked with a blue dot. We headed left down this new trail (Blue Mountains Trail).
It was on this trail that we realized that we chose the right way up the mountain. This had some pretty steep sections, and we traveled down much further and had to go back up, it was much different than the trail we took up. But this trail was well worth the steep parts!
There was a section about halfway that I really would consider one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The trees were catching the light of the sun, and the ferns and the leaves on the ground just gave it this breathtaking enchanted feel.
(If these images are speaking to you, feel free to check out my Etsy shop where I have prints available for purchase!)
After this beautiful section, we came to a cabin in the woods. There was no signage as to what it was for, but there was also an outhouse, a flag on the cabin and chairs outdoors. We didn’t see anyone around, but knew there had to be people staying here recently.
But we did finish out the trail clocking in at 5.6 miles total.
Check out more information by viewing public track on Gaia GPS here.