Normanook Tower via Appalachian Trail Loop

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Stokes State Forest

Normanook Tower via Appalachian Trail Loop is a 5.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Branchville, New Jersey that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 5.3 miles Elevation Gain: 770 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

The loop starts out on the Appalachian Trail and then takes you onto Sunrise Mountain Road. Walk Sunrise Mountain Road a short distance to the Coursen Trail. Once on the Coursen Trail, pass through a damp and cool forest consisting of Hemlock, Mount Laurel, Rhododendrons, and several streams. The forest then turns into a hardwood forest with a swamp and a view of the Kittatinny Ridge. From the Coursen Trail, you will then get on the Tower Trail. Go through a stand of spruce trees, cross a stream, and start your rocky climb to the top of the Kittatinny Ridge and Culvers fire Tower. You will be rewarded with some great views of the Poconos and Delaware River Valley. From the top of the ridge, take the Appalachian Trail south along the ridge for a view through the tree.

hiking
2 days ago

Awesome trail! Highly recommend following the direction on all trails so you’re going up the rock scramble rather than down. Trail has tons to offer and lots of different landscapes, lush green. Great views too. Trails well marked it’s definitely lots of rocks to walk over and some muddy parts but not too bad. Will definitely come back and try this again

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
2 days ago

hiking
rocky
6 days ago

muddy
rocky
scramble
11 days ago

This hike was exactly what I was looking for today: much of it was a peaceful walk in the woods surrounded by the sounds of birds chirping, but there was also a short period of uphill hiking and rock scrambling that got my heart pumping. The views at the top were beautiful, too - a perfect place to sit and relax after the toughest part is over. The trail is very clearly marked and well-maintained. There is a period between the blue trail and the green trail where the markers change, but just keep going- you're on the right track. I did this hike on a beautiful Saturday and only ran into a few people here and there. It was very serene. There were a few muddy spots where I had to leave the trail in order to avoid sinking into it, but this was not too much of a hassle as the area surrounding the trail was open enough for this to be possible. I definitely recommend doing the hike in the order described here. For me, rock scrambling is much more enjoyable and less terrifying than trying to climb down a rocky incline. Also, if you go backwards, the beautiful mountain top view comes earlier on in the hike. I prefer to have that experience closer to the end. Also, I used bug spray but the bugs were not bad at all! Enjoy your hike, guys!!

hiking
scramble
14 days ago

A challenging but satisfying hike. The views from the top of mountain and the fire tower make it all worth it! I would definitely recommend following the loop in the opposite direction by hiking up the Appalachian Trail to Normanook Fire Tower then taking Tower Trail down to Coursen Trail. On the way down Tower trail, we had to climb down, not walk. Going up Tower trail would have been very difficult.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
snow
washed out
2 months ago

hike/run. nice little loop

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Beautiful and great

This was a moderate to hard hike. First 3/4 mile is straight up hill and then a gradual ascend. We went out and back on the white trail because green coming back in the loop was snow covered. Great views from the tower.

hiking
7 months ago

Really awesome trail, fun hike with a great view at the top

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful day for a walk in the woods. I need to come back soon! Bring bug spray!!!

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

This was a great hike. The walk on Sunrise Road was a bit further than we expected to get to the Coursen trail but once we got started into the trail we really enjoyed the space. Very few hikers along the way until we got near the AT. There are a few Bridges and water ways to look at. We diverted for a closer look at the lake a Beaver pond. The final stretch to the top is a bit strenuous but not too bad. The views were amazing. Overall we really enjoyed this hike. Also the "we" is me at 45 year old female along with my 22 year old son.

hiking
Sun Apr 14 2019

Update, the stock recording has been fixed to match actual recording (Thank you Alltrails Support) so it should be possible now to get your verified completed badge with this trail. The negatives of this trail IMO still stand as there is a ton of beer cans on the side of the road portion of this hike, it's really upsetting that people can treat a State Park this way. View from the tower is ok but is polluted with power lines and towers.

Beautiful views. Depending on age of kids this is not really toddler friendly. Unless you have an older avoid hiking toddler. Also not stroller friendly at all.

hiking
Mon Apr 08 2019

Nice walk, steep at the beginning but nothing too strenuous. Descent on the green trail is very rocky, and the trail doesn’t go as close to the lake as we would have liked but there is options to change that. Nice views at the top and a picnic bench right by the fire tower. Hardly any other hikers, lots of birds around.

hiking
Mon Mar 04 2019

This was such an enjoyable trail. Steep start, but it levels off a bit. The view is amazing.

Sun Jun 03 2018

Great hike that would fill a morning or afternoon! We hiked it right after a thunderstorm so the bugs were awful, except at the peak because of the breeze. 100% worth it! It can be done with little to no technical gear. Athletic apparel is completely acceptable, just be carful with footing!

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