When planning your next trip to New Jersey, be sure to include a visit to the picturesque Hacklebarney State Park. This destination attracts those who love the outdoors and it’s a popular spot with hikers, anglers, birdwatchers, and those who just love to stroll through the scenic wooded trails and admire wildflowers and nature. Hacklebarney State Park is also a great place to visit during the hot and humid summers, as this Black River gorge area maintains a cool temperature, even during the warmest months.
What to Do There
Formerly the site of an active iron ore mine in the 19th century, Hacklebarney State Park today is much more low-key. It is known for its rugged terrain with large grey boulders, as well as the beautiful Black River and streams that wind through the area. During the depression (in the 1930s), the Civilian Conservation Corps worked to create trails and entry points through this area so that the public would be able to access this beautiful area. Nowadays, Hacklebarney State Park is a great place for hiking and walking among the 1,000 acres of woodlands, fields, and park area.
You can also spot plenty of wildlife here, such as deer, woodchucks, fox, rabbits, turtles and more. Fly fisherman adore this area, as well. And be prepared to possibly see a black bear! Most interesting, you can also see three rare plants within this park: the American ginseng, leatherwood, and Virginia pennywort. These endangered species are unique to this area.
There are several trails here, with diverse terrain, so it’s best to check out the park’s website and choose which trail you might be walking or hiking in advance so that you will have an idea of the level of difficulty and the timing.
Hacklebarney State Park’s top two trails are the Hacklebarney Loop Trail; and the Red, Yellow, and White Loop. These are well-marked trails and easy to find from the trailhead.
- The Hacklebarney Loop Trail is a relaxing 2.1-mile trail that is considered moderate. Most likely, you will see other hikers here (and dogs are allowed on leashes). This area tends to get very busy on weekends, so a weekday visit is always recommended. Along this wide and maintained pathway, you will see a small waterfall, trout streams, a lush hemlock forest, and several deep wooded ravines. There are also plenty of seating along the way—benches and picnic areas, in case you wish to stop and have a rest or enjoy the scenery. You can also stop at several lookout points, including the Scenic Overlook with views above the Lamington River. Parts of this trail are very easy, although there is a rocky stretch near the water, so be sure to wear proper footwear. It takes most people about an hour to complete this loop trail.
- The Red, Yellow, and White Loop is a 2.7-mile, heavily-trafficked loop trail that’s considered a good choice if you have kids with you or just want a light stroll. You can do all of these trails or a combination, depending on your time and energy level, and dogs are allowed as long as they remain on a leash. It is known as an “easy” trail (and most websites will provide this same information), but keep in mind that it is not flat and there are some very rocky spots along the way that may be considered more moderate. For the majority of this hike, you will have views of the streams and the river. Parts of the “yellow” trail get narrow and require a bit of a climb that will bring you to wonderful views.
How to Visit
When visiting Hacklebarney State Park (just like any state park!), be sure to be prepared and bring your own water and food—no matter the season. You may see water fountains along the trails that were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression—however, they no longer are in working condition.
Please note that Hacklebarney State Park does not have a welcome area and the park only offers limited facilities, although there is a large parking lot with restrooms. If you have specific questions related to disability access, it’s best to contact park service directly in advance of your visit.
Things to Do Nearby
If you visit Hacklebarney State Park, there are plenty of things to do in the rural area of Long Valley, New Jersey.
- If you wish to continue to enjoy the outdoors, visit the Willowwood Arboretum—a lovely destination with a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s and features hundreds of acres of enthralling gardens.
- You can also visit the Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill for some tasty cider or to relax by their fire pits on weekends. Their shop features festive holiday displays and freshly-baked pastries.
- Also located in Long Valley is Ort Farms. This rustic 400-acre destination has been open for over a century—and offers fresh fruits and vegetables year-round, as well as baked specialties such as pumpkin and apple pies. Kids love the giant corn maze in the fall. Be sure to check their website for holiday (and other) events.
- Another farm in Long Valley that’s worth a visit is Willow Grove Farm. If you love horses (or always wanted to try riding), you’re in luck! Willow Grove Farm happens to be the largest breeding and training facility for Clydesdale horses on the East Coast. It’s an ideal location for the entire family to get some fresh air and enjoy horseback riding (or lessons). Willow Grove Farm also offers guided trail rides and horse-drawn wagon rides.