There’s nothing quite like a discovery in your own backyard. And since our backyard is the great state of New Jersey, we’re always on the lookout for something a bit different and off the beaten path…and in this case the path is unlike any other.
The Pochuck Quagmire Bridge and Boardwalk in Vernon Township is a must-do section of the Appalachian trail, just two miles round trip, connecting Pocuck Mountain to Waywanda Mountain and the challenging ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (a post coming in the very near future). The trail is an easy hike along a raised boardwalk, allowing you to experience the beauty of wetlands and streams without walking through the muck!
Parking is tricky, and you’ll probably find yourself squeezing into a spot along County Route 517 or one of the side streets as this is a pretty popular hike (meaning, don’t expect to have it all to yourself).
The Boardwalk is in the open sun, with spectacular views across the wetlands, painted with colorful wildflowers. You’ll get a bit of shade in some wooded areas, and a cool look down to the algae covered water. Enjoy spotting the turtles as they scamper off the logs and rocks.
Cross Pochuck Creek on the 110 foot suspension bridge. Take in the views… Another quarter mile, the Boardwalk ends and enters the woods, becoming a rocky trail with some climbs and drops. Finally, cross the active railroad tracks and balance along the boards, across a cow pasture to end this part of the trail.
Your reward is a stop at Heaven Hill farms, greeted by a sign that welcomes hikers. We had packed our lunch, and were really happy to make use of the shady picnic tables (and bathrooms). Our daughter Grace treated herself to a jug of Blueberry Cider, and a very tempting array of ice cream and snacks added to a nice picnic lunch (even local wine tasting). We had been to Heaven Hill for the Fall Harvest, which is an absolute extravaganza from pig races to a huge corn maze, food stands, petting zoo, pumpkins, mums…well, it just goes on and on. Plan a full day.
We doubled back along the trail to where started, on the lookout for wild life, as the are features over 200 species of birds, including Cooper’s Hawk and Barred Owl.
For information call NY/NJTC at 201-512-9348, or visit the NY/NJ Trail Conference website
To enjoy the hike take Rt 517 or Rt 94 to Canal Road. Drive north to the AT parking lot on the left, walk a little north, then west on the white blaze trail to the Boardwalk. Let us know what you think, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!