Sourland Mountain Preserve – Hillsborough/Montgomery Township, Somerset County, NJ
Distance – 9 miles total of trails (I did 3 1/2 miles)
Type – interlocking loops
Difficulty: 3 of 10 (more elevation that I’m used to in flat South Jersey)
Website – Sourland Mountain Preserve
Open – Sunrise to Sunset.
Terrain – Hills and woods
Surface – Rock & dirt plus boardwalks
Trailheads – only one trailhead – 40°28’26.64″N, 74°41’41.77″W
Directions – 421 E Mountain Rd, Hillsborough Township, NJ 08844
Parking – large lot
Map – Click here for Sourland Mountain Preserve map
NOTE – Be aware of hunting season! Hike on Sundays or make sure to wear orange.
NOTE – the Trails are currently being redone, I’ll update the map and such when they are ready. I’d use a trail app (AllTrails, Bivy, HikingProject, etc) to help me keep track of where I am.
So last year, I was struggling mightily to get a new job. I ended up with eight interviews in less than two months, some of them in far off corners of New Jersey. After one of those interviews a good hour and half north of my house (I didn’t get offered the job), I changed out of my suit and hit a few trails on the way home including Sunset Park in Montgomery Township , Mike Merdinger Park in Hillsborough, and my target for the day, Sourland Mountains Preserve. I’d heard a ton about the park and how awesome that it was, so I was excited for this one!
Unfortunately, it was raining when I got there. So I went home. HA! Of course not, it was hiking time! I parked in the empty lot and headed up hill on the Ridge Trail hill into the woods.
So the hills here probably aren’t bad, but it was a bit wet, and I do live in one of the flattest places ever (South Jersey), so I have to admit there was some huffing and puffing going up the hill.
Eventually, I dragged myself to the top of the ridge and one of the highlights of the Preserve, the Devil’s Half Acre Boulders. It was very misty and creepy up here, as well as, you know, bouldery, so I enjoyed hiking through the clouds. Also, I enjoyed not going uphill very much.
Now I was REALLY enjoying this hike, but I’d (oh boy, this is embarrassing for someone who runs a hiking blog) had forgotten to put a water bottle in my car before I left that morning. On top of that, I realized I was running short on time. So when I came to the intersection of the Ridge Trail, the Roaring Brook Trail, and the Connector Trail, I made the sad choice to turn left down the connector trail.
Now when I reached the bottom of the hill, I realized I wasn’t THAT thirsty and I didn’t have to home THAT soon. So I made the right turn onto the Maple Flats Trail to take the long way around to the parking lot. It was a touch muddy from the rains, but not that bad… adventure!
The trail eventually reaches a road. Left provides a nice view down the hill.
I opted to head right, as the Maple Flats Trail followed the road uphill for a short stretch, then turned left off of the dirt road.
Once past the road, the Maple Flats Trail loops around and meets up with the Ridge Trail. I could turn right to take the Ridge Trail up to Roaring Rocks, but I opted to stay left and follow where the Maple Flats Trail and the Ridge Trail overlap. It met up again with the road, only lower down the hill.
From here, the trails work their way back to the parking lot, passing a lovely little pond right by the parking lot.
I ended up at the car after a lovely 3 1/2 mile loop, tired and thirsty, but thrilled with the adventure. I will be back to head up to Roaring Rocks Boulders!
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Mountains, trees, mist, awesomeness... loved it!
Why do hills have to go up?