Sunday, February 1, 2015

NJ Appalachian Trail - Section 4 - Sunrise Mountain Road to Culver Fire Tower

February 1, 2015

Miles: 3.4
Time: 2 hours

Year to date miles: 15.5

Parking: Sunrise Mountain Road (on the left side of the very beginning of this road). This parking area is also used by snowmobilers who snowmobile on Sunrise Mountain Road. Note that all but the very beginning of this road is closed in the winter, so the parking lot near the summit of Sunrise Mountain is inaccessible.

Rest rooms: Portapotty

Hike directions:
Start on the trail next to the kiosk.
Cross Sunrise Mountain Road (only snowmobilers on it).
Ascend up the trail.
Hike along a level ridgeline.
Pass a communications tower on your right.
Shortly after that, arrive at Culver Fire Tower.
Retrace steps back to parking lot.

Map: Appalachian Trail Conservancy New York / New Jersey Appalachian Trail Guide and Maps

Hike description:

We got off to a typical late start. And a long drive to NJ. Our original plan was to do a 7.5 level snowshoe from the summit of Sunrise Mountain to Culver Fire Tower. Unfortunately Sunrise Mountain Road was closed for the winter (except for the very beginning), so the parking lot was inaccessible. We decided to just park at the beginning of Sunrise Mountain Road and hike to the Culver Fire Tower from there (approaching it from the opposite direction than we planned). We took a long time getting ourselves all set up to snowshoe. Dogs as well had to be booted, because they've been getting ice balls between their toes all week long. Finally we were off! The trail started uphill, and although the trail conditions were great for snowshoeing, I was feeling pretty low energy. After the uphill, we walked along a ridgeline, but I was still feeling zonked. I had an energy bar and we made it to the fire tower. It started to snow when we got there, so it seemed like a good place to turn around despite it being a short hike. We were expecting a snowstorm in the early evening, and we still had a long drive home. The return to the car was downhill and much easier and faster - less effort, and really good trail conditions - no ice. We got to our car early - at least an hour before sunset - way too early! We only hiked a measly 3.4 miles...we are not off to a good start for hiking this year! 

Sunrise Mountain Road - snowmobile tracks

View after climbing

Approaching the fire tower

View next to the fire tower


  1. Hey, Just found you blog! It is really helpful. I have just started snowshoeing- usually kayak (, but am planning summer hiking in Montana and need to work on the lower body. It's really helpful to have this info.
    I'm gonna try this trail tomorrow - thanks.Dogs look awesome btw.

  2. Glad you enjoy it. Hiking in Montana sounds great! The NYNJTC has a lot of good hiking maps/hike suggestions if you are looking for hikes in the NY and NJ areas.