Stairway to Heaven and Pochuck Valley via Appalachian Trail is a 7.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Vernon Valley, New Jersey that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,122 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

trail running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

This hike starts out in at the AT crossing on Route 517 the Pochuck Valley and starts out flat for about 2.5 miles on boardwalks,a suspension bridge, and a cow pasture. It then crosses Rt. 94 and enters the "stairway to heaven" - a steep set of switchbacks over rocky terrain that wind their way up.

4 days ago

Stunning views from the summit. Very cool variety of terrain on the way there! Only negative is that certain areas flood quite heavily so you have to trudge through water and mud. Rather than soak our socks we went barefoot through the water so if you encounter that I recommend the same!

hiking
14 days ago

It was a great workout, with an awesome view at the end, there were a bunch of hawks flying level with us at the vista, pretty cool, be careful on the descent, seemed harder than going up, but overall, would recommend it to anyone

hiking
2 months ago

Boardwalk section very easy, Heaven Hill Farm a good place to stop and get ice cream mid way or afterwards. Part after you cross the road was the busiest section for us, very steep- took about an hour to get up to the top. Very rocky but views are totally worth it! Saw quite a few snakes a long the way so just be wary.

hiking
2 months ago

I woke up obscenely early to get to the trail at 6:30 on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and was very glad that I did. It was absolutely beautiful at sunrise, and I saw only four other people on the trail; one at the parking lot, one coming down the Stairway to Heaven, and two at the top. I took my time and took tons of photographs -- yes, it's as stunning as the pictures make it look. By 12:15, it was starting to get packed, particularly on the boardwalk. It wouldn't have been a bad hike with all those people, but there's something magical about seeing it alone. The view at the top of Stairway to Heaven is lovely, and good for a long rest and lunch break.

The Pochuck Valley section is very easy, and the Stairway to Heaven is a good workout; I would say it's a little less tough than I remember Mount Tammany being. (I'm in only moderate hiking shape, and do about 10-15 miles on Saturdays without much elevation--I had to take a couple of quick breathers, but saw other people taking it at a similar pace with less sweat.) The trail is well-marked, although keeping your head up on the way up will help; as another reviewer said, make sure to turn onto the blue dot trail when you see the pile of rocks and the little wooden "view" sign.

Remember to bring bug spray, especially on wet days! If you don't have bug spray... turn around and buy some. If you absolutely have to hike without it, get your butt in gear! The second you stop to take in the gorgeous two-plank walkway, the mosquitoes will descend in droves. Even with the backwoods repellent, they were brushing against me. With that being said, I reapplied a couple of times, and didn't get a single bite. I saw a nice range of birds, a couple of chipmunks, and a common garter snake let me get a good gander at him.

You absolutely can do this one in sneakers, but I think hiking shoes are best. The rocks aren't as technical or grabby as Bear Rocks or sections of Hawk Mountain, for example, but there's a little bit of footwork on the way down the trail that might make it nice to have some stability.

TL;DR: top-notch hike, put on a layer of deet.

hiking
2 months ago

My absolute favorite hiking trail in New Jersey. Beautiful selection of wildflowers. Spectacular views, unique hiking experience. Wear bug spray as mosquitoes can be a problem in the wet season. Parking can be tricky so avoid peak times. Hike very early in the morning or late in the afternoon on weekends.

hiking
3 months ago

A nice challenge. Starts off easy with a beautiful walk through marshlands, then concludes with a steep, fairly rigorous climb to a hilltop vantage point with great views of the entire valley.

In the middle forested 1mi., we ran into a horrendous amount of mosquitoes. We had 20+ bites each. Definitely bring repellant, especially if it's rained recently!

hiking
3 months ago

New Jersey doesn't have many peaks but the elevation on this trail is quite nice. Not a difficult hike but the heat can get you so hydrate well!

4 months ago

Really enjoyed this hike, even on a hot Summer day. Plenty of shade, once you are off the boardwalk. Definitely lots of rocks but not as steep as we thought it would be but a tough workout, nonetheless with beautiful views at top. Note - if you are looking for the Outlook - when you see the hug pile of rocks with the sign that says ‘View’ at the very top, move off the white trail and follow the blue trail a short way to the Outlook.

hiking
4 months ago

short hike, but works you on the ascent. awesome views of farmland below and surrounding mountains. super crowded on weekends

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail with beautiful views from the Mountain! 80 degrees and almost no humidity today.

5 months ago

Great views. Great hike. Just challenging enough for a good exercise and just gorgeous enough to wanna come back regularly.

hiking
5 months ago

Perfect for a Wednesday hike in June, as the trail was empty, although I can imagine how crowds could make this less enjoyable. The boardwalk is gorgeous and there is a decently sized mountain with lots of boulders to climb. Beautiful view too. Took our small West Highland Terrier and he handled the hike well, but make sure you bring water!

5 months ago

love this trail and hike it as often as possible. lots of exercise and picture ops.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike, one of my favorites in New Jersey. Some people skip the first section of the trail and just hike up the stairway. Don't do that! The first section with the boardwalk is actually the prettiest part--amazing marsh scenery and lots of cool birds. It's also super flat, so you can hike it quite quickly. The stairway has a great view at the top, but the forest around you is more typical for the area. Only downside is there are a lot of people on a nice day. Not obnoxiously many, but they're definitely there. Plenty of space for everyone at the top though.

hiking
6 months ago

Great day to do it today and great view from top.

hiking
6 months ago

Went route 285 to Pochuck Shelter onto the boardwalk and stairway to Heaven. I hated it. The trail is nothing but rocks when you accent to the shelter. Rocks, rocks and more rocks from Pochuck to the stairway to Heaven. No real scenery until you get to the boardwalk except for the normal top of the Mountain View’s. The rocks were so miserable for miles you can’t just put your foot straight down on the trail you step and your ankle has to give to adjust. I guess it’s my opinion on the trail of course but just want to put it out there it’s rocks on top of rocks. It was a crazy two day experience but finally made it out alive :)

hiking
11 months ago

I absolutely love coming here So much so we got married on the suspension bridge on July 1st. For the rest of my life this hike this trail will have a special meaning to me.

hiking
Friday, November 03, 2017

Although the Pochuck trail is easy, Adding it to the Stairway to Heaven trail is well worth it.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Loved this hike. I've heard it is very crowded on the weekends so we took 1/2 day of work and arrived at 3:00 on a Friday. Not crowded at all. The 8 mile out and back took us 3 1/2 hours. You can make good time on the boardwalk section. The hike to the vista is challenging but worth it. We did see a bear on the way up, so be aware. Beautiful along boardwalk at sunset.

hiking
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Love the woods in this area, beautiful hike. Started at sunrise on a Tuesday and only saw two other people on the way back.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Most absolutely beautiful views! Peaceful and aww inspiring!

hiking
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Very cool hike, mostly on boardwalk in beginning but few places for dog to "explore" along route. Definitely coming back and with more water next time.

hiking
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Good trail. Heavily trafficked. A bit confusing where to go at the top. This was worth it for the view but I wish it were harder and less people were around.

hiking
Monday, September 04, 2017

The boardwalk area is lovely with amazing wildflowers. The Stairway to Heaven is very rocky and gets a bit steep toward the end, but the view at the top is worth it.

hiking
Sunday, September 03, 2017

Nice trail through a boardwalk with beautiful wild flowers, forest, a cow pasture and a bouldering hike to a spectacular view of Sussex County.

hiking
Saturday, September 02, 2017

Great hike with mountain view

hiking
Friday, August 11, 2017

This was our 1st trail and it was a bit tough, specially the stairway to heaven part, however it was worth the efford. The way back was way faster since we weren't taking pics or stopping to admire the scenery. It was interesting to cross the farm, since the cows were there... they were ok though. Would recommend and do again.

hiking
Tuesday, August 01, 2017

I don't know if it was just an off day, but I didn't get the pay off from this hike that I was expecting. Yes the view at the vista was really nice, but something just felt missing. The boardwalk section, while nice, was sweltering hot with zero shade, and there where so many people, even on a monday afternoon. Now should this be held against the trail, that a lot of people love it? No it shouldn't, but it did impact the experience so its impossible for it not to.

The main gripe I had with the trail is the boardwalk section. From Rt 94 to the vista it is certainly more enjoyable, for me at least. The incline up was way more intense than I was expecting. Maybe it was an off day, but this ascent felt harder to me than Mt Tammany. The view at the vista was great. If started from 94 I would give this trail a 4 stars, but I didn't love the boardwalk section :/

hiking
Thursday, July 27, 2017

absolutely wonderful hike. it has a little of everything, some water, boardwalks, suspension bridge, lots of birds, beautiful wild flowers and a great hike up the stairs to the top of the mountain. very nice how the hike up the stairway to heaven just zig zags around, never becoming really too steep. very enjoyable hike. highly recommend

hiking
Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beautiful scenery. Came across a bear right by the entrance, turtles, bull frogs, snakes, cows and bulls. The landscape changed at every turn. Great and strenuous hike up up the mountain!

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