This past weekend I started off my hiking challenge by heading up to Vernon, NJ for the Stairway to Heaven trail. The trail is a total of 7.4 miles over a mile of it being a steep incline.
I am by no means an expert hiker. I've done about 5 trails throughout New Jersey, and this one was definitely the toughest. It was a tough but totally worth it. I do think that anyone who sets their mind to it (and paces themselves and listens to their body) can complete this trail.
The trail starts out on a board walk and is a very easy walk for about 2 miles.
The boardwalk is about 2 people wide and surrounded my mostly tall grass and some water and swampy areas at points. We saw a number of turtles.
The picture above was taken very close to the beginning. You can see the mountain that we climbed to the top of far off in the distance.
You cross over a couple of bridges on the way towards the mountain including "Lovers Bridge". The boardwalk also get much skinnier and becomes 2 beams as you get out of the marshier area. You end up crossing over railroad tracks and going through a pasture where you can see some cows.
Finally you make it to the mountain.
You head into the woods, and follow the trail. It starts to become rocky, and that's when you know you're almost at the beginning of the climb.
Once we actually started to climb, I limited the picture-taking. It was a lot of climbing, and you could definitely feel it all over your legs and butt. We took a couple of quick breaks to catch our breath and enjoy the scenery. Finally we made it all the way to the top which is actually past the look out point. At the very top, there's a mailbox with a book that you can sign, so of course I did. Then we headed down just a little to the lookout point.
What a view! You can see the pasture you walked through, and the beams look like little lines. There also happened to be some sort of music event going on below, and we could hear the music all the way from the top. The huge tent looked like a little square.
After enjoying the top for a good 15 minutes, we headed back down and did the trail in reverse. All in all, it took about 4 hours including our rests, picture breaks, and 15 minutes at the top. It probably would've taken about 3 1/2 hours had we not stopped.
It was totally worth it. The varying elements of the path, different scenery, and amazing view from the top. What a great hike! Highly recommended if you're up for the challenge!
For a full overview and description of the trail click here.