New Jersey’s Kittatinny Valley State Park: A Haven for Outdoor Enthusiasts

The Kittatinny Valley State Park, located roughly 8 miles north of Route 80 in Andover, NJ offers an abundance of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The picturesque property offers several hiking and mountain biking trails and numerous options for hunting, fishing, boating and bird watching. In winter, the snow-covered trails of Kittatinny Park provide the perfect terrain for cross-country skiing, for snowshoeing and even for dog sledding. The park features an abundance of natural beauty including stunning glacial lakes and limestone outcroppings. The Pequest River starts its 25-mile journey to the Delaware River from Lake Aeroflex and Gardner’s Pond, both of which are situated within the park.

For hikers and mountain bikers, the Kittatinny Valley State Park offers two main trails; the Paulinskill Valley Trail and the Sussex Branch Trail. Both trails follow the rail bed of what once used to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad and present varying terrains and levels of difficulty for hikers and mountain bikers. The Paulinskill Valley trial is a 27-mile crushed and ballast based trail that begins in Sussex County’s Sparta Junction and comes to an end in Columbia Lake, Warren County. On the way the trail meanders through deciduous forests, wetlands and rural landscapes and cuts across the picturesque Paulinskill River multiple times. One of the highlights of the trail is the historic Paulinskill Viaduct which at one point was the largest such structure in the world. The Paulinskill Trail is 12 feet wide in most parts, and its firm base is ideally suited for hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing in winter. The trail is mostly flat though some sections are modestly graded, making it ideal for family biking and hiking.

Meanwhile, Kittatinny’s second trail, the Sussex Branch Trail is a 20-mile flat cinder base trail that like the Paulinskill Valley trial was once used as a railroad. The trail begins in Byram, located about one mile west of Route 206 in Sussex County and ends in Branchville. The trail cuts through many small rural communities, lakes, fields and swamps. At one point, the Sussex Branch Trail intersects with the Paulinskill Valley Trail. Some sections of the Sussex Branch Trail trail cuts through sheer bedrock and graded fill areas while other stretches pass under several picturesque bridges. The flat cinder base composition of the trail makes it suitable for multiple purposes, including hiking, biking and horse riding.

In addition to both these trails, Kittatinny Valley State Park also boasts over 8 miles of challenging mountain biking terrain, much of which is maintained by the Bulldog Mountain Bike Team. The park is a popular destination for both hard-core and novice bikers and each year plays host to several mountain bike races.

Kittatinny State Park encompasses a total of four glacial lakes, which makes it a haven for anglers and boaters. The park’s largest lake is the 119-acre Lake Aeroflex. The lake is one of the deepest freshwater lakes in the region and offers anglers an opportunity to fish for landlocked salmon. New Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife introduced the coldwater sport fish to Lake Aeroflex back in 2006 and since then the lake has become an increasingly popular destination for anglers in the region. Lake Aeroflex is also stocked annually with rainbow trout and brown trout and has been designated as a “holdeover trout lake” by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. The other three lakes in Kittatinny Valley State Park are the 39-acre Gardner’s Pond Lake, the 29-acre Twin Lakes and White’s Pond. All three lakes offer anglers plenty of year round fishing opportunities, though White’s Pond offers only shoreline fishing. All four lakes in the park are open for ice-fishing in winter, as conditions permit.

The Kittatinny Valley State Park also offers a bonanza for naturalists. The park is home to hundreds of bird species as well as all sorts of animals including beaver, mink, otter, deer, muskrats and squirrels. Designated areas of the park are open for hunting, during official hunting seasons. The park offers recreational programs all year around and numerous talks are held on hiking and biking. The Park offers limited access for people with disabilities.

Further information on the park is available by contacting Kittatinny Valley State Park at (973) 786-6445 or by sending them a mail at P O Box 621, Andover, NJ 07821-0621.