Long Distance Trails  –  The Highlands Trail





The Highlands Trail

The mileage on this trail is constantly changing.
Blazing: Teal diamonds
Map and guide: http://www.highlands-trail.org/description.html

"The Highlands Trail is a footpath that provides non motorized access to the extraordinary natural, scenic, and historic resources of the forested, water rich Highlands of New York and New Jersey. It traverses the open ridges, rugged slopes, and narrow valleys that characterize the region, skirting it's noitable reservoirs and lakes, crossing rocky streams and rivers". This vision statement does a fine job at summarizing the character of the trail, but those who have hiked it will know that no words can do it justice.

The Highlands Trail was first proposed in the early 1990s when serious attention was first given to the geological province known as the Highlands. This region, stretching from Connecticut to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, is over eighty percent privately owned, and very vulnerable to development. The drinking water for more than half of New Jersey's population comes from the Highlands. It was felt that a continuous trail along the spine of this region would bring public awareness, as well as access to places not yet part of a developed trail system.

The first trail work and blazing, simple teal diamonds, with  Highlands Trail logos at significant points such as road crossings and junctions with other trails, occurred in 1995. It is amazing that in the most densely populated state in America, with all the trials and tribulations, that so much of the trail was completed in the short span of a decade. The Highlands Trail through NY and NJ is maintained by volunteers of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference. Glenn Oleksak, the HT Supervisor and one of the most dedicated of all trail volunteers oversees and conducts maintenance throughout the trail's length. For more information on the Highlands Trail, and for volunteer opportunities, visit www.highlands-trail.org

The original plan envisioned the Highlands Trail route from the Hudson River at Storm King Mountain to the Delaware River (sections have been opened to the north since the original plan). Similarly, plans are being made to extend the HT west to the Susquehanna River under the auspices of Appalachian Mountain Club. Metrotrails President Michael Helbing hosted fourteen scouting hikes for the PA Highlands Trail before his departure from the club in 2008. The first blaze was added in Rieglesville, PA in the Spring of 2009, but nothing has happened since. Two potential routes were proposed after entering PA. One would take the HT south to the Tohickon Valley, and follow the tributary to Nockamixon State Park, and the other was to follow Delaware Canal north to Easton, Lehigh Canal and adjacent trails west to Bethlehem, South Bethlehem and Saucon Greenways south toward Quakertown, then Liberty Bell Trail south to the Perkiomen Valley. Both proposals were virtually the same from there, heading southwest. The Highlands Trail would co-align with the Horseshoe Trail out to Lancaster County.