As many readers know, I’m a resident of New Jersey. I didn’t grow up in the Garden State but have spent the last five years living here.
Before you cringe thinking about the Jersey Shore, miles of traffic, and NJ being “back up New York,” you should know that New Jersey is a beautiful state. They don’t call us the Garden State for anything!
I’ve explored most of the state and run races in most counties and let me tell you, the running doesn’t disappoint. Just don’t run down Route 38 or 202, believe me, there are better places.
Here are a few great options if you find yourself traveling through the State:
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge: This is a beautiful and scenic park down the shore. There is an excellent view of Atlantic City and just over 20 miles of trails. You are surrounded by the ocean, and views of various animals including herons throughout the entire park.
Overpeck County Park: You would never guess this 6-mile park is tucked away in Bergen County. I’ve run in Overpeck several times, and the views of North Jersey, as well as the water, make for a perfect park when you want to escape the main roads.
Palisades Interstate Park: There are just over 25 miles on the New Jersey side of the Palisades Park. It does connect to New York. Be warned; there are extreme climbs that took me an hour to hike a mile. Not every section is like that. It’s one of the most beautiful parks in the state, and there are views of New York and the Hudson throughout the entire park.
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest: There are about 25 miles of flat and grassy trails. It’s a real hidden wonder of NJ. I’ve run many long runs in the park and was never disappointed.
Rancocas State Park: A local cross country park, this is a great place to get about 5 miles or running. The trails are flat and comfortable, which makes for a perfect beginner or seasoned runner park.
Cooper River Park: The most well-known park in Camden, Cooper River has just over 9 miles worth of trails. Several small local parks connect in the area to make for longer runs. The main area of Cooper River is just over 3.5 miles around the river. It hosts 5ks almost every weekend and has a scenic view of Philadelphia.
Coastal Heritage Trail Route: Cumberland is one of the quietest and peaceful counties in the state. It’s easy to run along main country roads, but the Coastal Heritage Trail has plenty of flat, easy miles if you are looking to get off the streets.
Timber Creek Park: Timber Creek is a small park used for cross country races. It’s a perfect small park to do loops or a nice short easy run.
Tall Pines State Preserve: Tall Pines is a former golf course which offers plenty of running, walking, and biking trails.
Point Mountain Reservation: With about 4 miles of trails, Point Mountain Reservation is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, running, or cross-country skiing.
Round Valley Recreation: Round Valley circles a 2-mile reservoir. Three main trails total 12 miles. Two are multi-use, and you might come across bikers or equestrians. The final trail is for hiking or running only.
Spruce Run: Spruce Run Recreation Area is just under 4 miles and one of the most “runner friendly” parks in the area. In addition to the trails, the park grounds and roadways provide for hiking, running, and biking activities.
Hudson County: One of the most scenic parks in the state, you’ll see beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline. It’s a definite must do if you are ever in the area.
Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park: One of the largest parks in NJ, the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park has over 60 miles of trails. The trails are easy for running, biking, hiking, or cross-country skiing in the winter.
Kilmer Woods: One of the most scenic areas to run, Kilmer Woods was once part of the U.S. Army’s Camp Kilmer. The camp included barracks and bunkers that held ammunition. Now, all that remains paved areas in the middle of the track. You can get about 8 miles in Kilmer Woods.
Allaire State Park: There are over 20 miles of easy, grassy trails to get miles in. If you need a long run, Allaire is perfect.
Hartshorne Woods Park: Another park that is great for both hiking or running, Hartshorne Woods Park has about 20 miles of trails.
Holmdel Park: If you are a high school or college, cross country runner you know about the famous “Holmdale Bowl.” It’s the most challenging cross country course in the state, but the hills only make you stronger. Right?
Sandy Hook (Gateway National Recreation Area): If you are looking for a history lesson and fun park to run or bike through, Sandy Park is it. There are over 8 miles of flat, paved trail, with plenty of parking, bathrooms, and military monuments.
Jockey Hollow Cluster: Jockey Hollow is an excellent park for an easy hike or moderate run. There about 7 miles of trails with an elevation change that makes it great for anyone.
Mahlon Dickerson Reservation: With about 20 miles of trails, Mahlon is one of the best parks in Morris County to get a long run in.
Morristown National Historical Park: There are over 25 miles of trails in this historic park. There are plenty of historic signs and pieces of history too.
Cattus Island County Park: With 7 miles of flat trail near the shore it makes for a perfect easy or shorter run.
Double Trouble State Park: There are just over 5 miles in this flat, sandy, park. It’s perfect to make loops when you prefer water or go for a casual stroll.
Norvin Green State Forest: There are nearly 50 miles in the Norvin Green. While it’s more geared towards hiking, the seasoned or enthused trail runner will enjoy it too.
Parvin State Park: One of my favorite parks in all of New Jersey. Salem Park is tucked away in south jersey. It’s a flat 5-mile accessible park great for trail running or even an easy hike.
Six Mile Run Reservoir Site: With just over 13 miles, Six Mile Run is a great park to get a half marathon in. The trails can be challenging at times, but for the most part, it’s a reasonably comfortable park to run through.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: The Delaware Water Gap has over 50 miles of trails. The trails can be extremely challenging and are best suited for the seasoned trail runner. Personally, I prefer to hike the trails and make a day trip of it, but I’ve seen many runners fly by!
High Point State Park: Sussex County has a lot of elevation change so the parks and trails in Sussex can be the most difficult in the state. As the name suggests, High Point boasts the highest elevation in all of NJ. The trails are more hikeable than runnable, but there are over 50 miles to choose from.
Merrill Creek Reservoir Environmental Preserve: With just over 10 miles of trails, Merrill Creek Reservoir is a beautiful park for running, hiking, or even cross-country skiing. There are always unique animals out and about.
Watchung Reservation is a beautiful park, but it’s not for the faint of heart. There are 13+ miles, but many are challenging and are best suited for power-walking or hiking.
These are just a few of the dozens of parks in New Jersey that are great for running. New Jersey might be the most densely populated state, but it’s also filled with plenty of parks, trails, and outdoor areas to run!