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A Heavenly Trail | Stairway to Heaven

The hardest thing about hiking isn’t the hiking itself, it’s finding a worthwhile place to hike. For me, living in NYC, squeezing in a hiking trip is a bit difficult. Time is limited between classes, most of the trails near the city don’t offer enough views or challenge, and the ones that do are hours away. Luckily, just an hour and a half away, lies the Stairway to Heaven Trail. 

The Stairway to Heaven is a 7-mile there-and-back trail on the Appalachian. If you enter the trail pass route 94, you’ll be able to skip the first 2 miles of the hike. There’s not much there, so I recommend just entering past route 94. Use the address 441 New Jersey 94, Vernon Township, NJ. 

If you search this hike beforehand, you’ll find descriptions of a beautiful boardwalk with flowers on either side. However, we were greeted by dead grass and no boardwalk. It could be because it was still winter, but our view wasn’t as pretty as we’d heard. Still, one we trekked in search of the final vista. 

Entrance to Stairway to Heaven Trail
Road to the Trail | A Stairway to Heaven
Beginning the Stairway to Heaven
Ascending the Trail | A Rocky Stairway

This hike was one of the easier ones I’ve been on. The most difficult portion of the hike was the beginning. Because it had rained the night before, much of the trail was covered in ice. It was hard not to slip and fall. It was especially hard for Montou. We mostly stuck to the hay-covered areas for grip. 

Once we got to the rocky hill, the titular Stairway to Heaven, things became easier (and harder). It was less about not falling and protecting your (ass)ets and more about relying on your legs to take you up. It seems Montou was in his element, hopping from rock to rock like a furry mountain goat. 

It was winter, the trees were bare and nothing had bloomed, yet the quietness of the woodland was calming, a stark contrast to the bustling city we had just escaped. It was just us and the trees, our legs taking us even higher up the trail. Although I was enjoying the quietness, I wish I had the speaker I used in Taiwan. 

Stairway to Heaven Woodland
A Calming Woodland | Continuing Through the Trail
Old AT Vista | End of the Appalachian
Old AT Vista | End of the Appalachian

At some point during the hike, your supposed to see a large pile of rocks. Those who frequent the Stairway to Heaven trail use this as a landmark, indicating your proximity to the pinwheel vista. It’s a good way to know you’re on the right track, if you can find it. 

If you can’t find it, you’ll have to figure out where you are. In our case, the first landmark we reached was the Old AT Vista. That is actually over a mile away from the rock pile. We were so confused when we reached the vista. Where was the pile of rocks?  We weren’t the only ones though, another group of hikers were in the same predicament. 

Through some teamwork, we were finally able to locate the large pile of rocks and subsequently, the Pinwheel Vista. Arriving at the vista was the culmination of our hike and indicated it was finally time to go back. Of course, not before I precariously climbed down some rocks to get a better view. My philosophy is if you’re not in a little danger you’re not doing it right. 

Staiway to Heaven Farm
Barn Down the Road | Entrance to the Trail

It’s about time to end this post now. Although maybe the season wasn’t right for this hike, and maybe the weather wasn’t either, it was a good time. The final view at the end didn’t live up to some of the pictures I saw, but it was beautiful nonetheless. For this week’s #onethingoneweek, go out and explore the nature around you, even if it’s only an hour drive away. 

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