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Visiting the Mountains of Northern New Jersey: Surprising, Tranquil Scenes

Updated on October 20, 2020
State flag of New Jersey
State flag of New Jersey | Source
Clouds over Kittatinny Mountain, New Jersey
Clouds over Kittatinny Mountain, New Jersey | Source
The Delaware Water Gap from Knowlton Township, New Jersey
The Delaware Water Gap from Knowlton Township, New Jersey | Source
Northern New Jersey map showing mountains
Northern New Jersey map showing mountains | Source

Scenery and relative isolation that the unfamiliar visitor does not expect

New Jersey . What I might have expected was the hinterland of the Jersey Shore with its suburbs and retail parks, and market gardens and marshland that the air traveller sees shortly before landing at JFK. I have long had the idea that many things in New Jersey are close together: the state capital Trenton is close to the Governor's mansion at Drumthwacket , which, in turn is close to Princeton . Atlantic City is a hive of activity around tourists. And so forth. Nothing wrong with these, of course. These elements constitute part of the image of New Jersey which many people probably have.

What I saw instead in northern New Jersey was scenic mountains and wide open spaces. There was a sense of relative isolation and peace, geographically not so very far from the fury and bustle of the Big Apple , but psychologically far removed.

So what exactly did I see?

Kittatinny Mountain...or mountains...

Could someone explain to me whether Kittatinny is a mountain or mountains? Why do I ask? Well, some sources say that Kittatinny is a range of mountains, others say that really it is one mountain. Well, they are, or it is, very impressive, too.

Actually, the Lenape Native Americans got it exactly right. Because the name 'Kittatinny ' is derived from a term in their language meaning 'endless hill'. Like, not just one hill peak. But a long peak that extends over a distance. Yes, like a ridge. Already I'm grasping a concept redolent of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia , celebrated in song.

Indeed, the high point of the ridge is the high point of New Jersey and it is called...well...High Point , at 550 metres (1803 feet). A State Park is named for High Point . And on the point of the Point there is a tall obelisk, commemorating the fallen.

Furthermore, to the east of the Kittatinny ...entity is the Great Kittatinny Valley . This time, the use of the singular in this feature's name defies ambiguity.

Anyway, what else did I see?

Delaware Water Gap

So, next question. What is a water gap? Geographically, geologically, cartographically, topologically, stratigraphically (...and I hope I haven't omitted any of the right words) a water gap is a mountain ridge cut through by a river. And the river in question here is the great Delaware, for a long distance marking the eastern boundary between New Jersey and Pennsylvania . The Delaware River cuts through the Kittatinny Mountains ...or mountain. And now, so does the I-80.

Lasting impressions:

My lasting impression of northern New Jersey's mountains is: this must be one of America's (many?) best kept secrets! Some scenic attractions are admired from afar long before they are even visited. For me, this one was a surprise. Not what what I expected from my sweeping and generalized image of New Jersey . And psychologically very invigorating.


How to get there:

New York Newark Airport , from where car rental is available, is the nearest large airport to northern New Jersey 's mountains, with excellent connections to other North American cities and beyond. The distance from Newark to the Delaware Water Gap is 100 kilometres (62 miles). The I-80 is the main approach from the New York City area to New Jersey's Kittatinny Mountain and Delaware Water Gap area. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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