High Point State Park, Sussex County, in extreme northwest corner of New Jersey
60 miles, northwest of New York City, two miles southwest of Duttonville
Latitude 41 degrees, 19 Minutes North, Longitude 74 degree, 38 Minutes West
USGS Maps: Port Jervis South (7.5 Minutes)
High Point State Park
1480 State Route 23
Sussex, NJ 07461
I most recently visited High Point on August 19, 2000.
I have never had a bad visit. In fact my first visit in October 1989 re-ignited my passion for highpointing. It had been more than 15 years since I climbed a state highpoint. We were driving back from a visit to New York’s Catskills and the Woodstock site in nearby Bethel, NY, the summit and its easy access to I-84 just jumped off the map. The summit looked quite grand as it rose up from Port Jervis and was capped by its tower.
A glorious panorama of orange and red unfurled from its heights. I paid a kindly woman a few bucks and climbed the tower.
It would be another 5 years before the quest began in earnest.
I revisited the summit again on December 26, 1998. I was hoping to find it inundated in its legendary snow.
Even though it is surrounded by dairy farms, High Point is definitely in the metro New York area. The Metro North commuter rail line ends in Port Jervis. Signs just below the summit note that it is 58 miles from Newark. In the winter, the biggest snows in the metro area fall on the summit. New York weather forecasts regularly include the number of feet that have fallen on the summit in their forecasts. High Point has its own cross country skiing trails. Ski resorts also are nearby in Vernon.
During our visit the snow had melted off and huge snow making machines had left piles below the summit. It was to snow 2 feet on the summit 3 days later.
High Point had fallen on hard times since my previous visit. The tower was deemed unsafe and closed. It was the subject of a New York Times expose in 1998. The hub bub prompted New Jersey voters in November 1998 to approve a tax to improve the state park system — which at the time is arguably the worst in the country.
My visit on August 2000 was by far the best.
We were driving back from Niagra Falls and was looking for a place to run the dogs. High Point once again jumped off the map. It would give my pet golden retriever Lila a chance to get her first state highpoint (and give my other retriever another peak).
The Poconos in eastern Pennsylvania somehow looked much better than usual in the waning sunlight. With birch and pine it looked quite remote. An unseasonable August cold wave (overnight temps near 40) added to the mountainanous feel. We dropped into the Delaware River valley by the Tri-State area — marveling that folks were camping on the banks of the Delaware within 100 yards of the interstate.
It was a simple turn off the interstate, passing a High Point Motel and then up the hill for 4.5 miles up Highway 23. A week earlier this area had been inundated in a 500-year storm which dropped 14 inches of rain in 24 hours. But there was no sign of damage. A sign noted the summit closed at 8 p.m. We were visiting at 7 p.m. The road was deserted.
As the tower rose up by the lake. It had become a magical. The dirty gray exterior had been sandblasted and it glowed white. Scaffolding made it look the recently completed Washington Monument renovation. Signs near the tower noted that it was closed. Generators roared. However, we climbed on the rocks around its base. Our dogs glowed in the late summer light against the purple vista of the Catskills to the north. It was easy to see why our dogs are called “golden.”
The 220 foot tower was built in 1930 to commemorate war dead by Colonel and Mrs. Anthony R. Kuser who owned the land and operated the High Point Inn there. It is made of New Hampshire granite and quartzite.
Another six cars came up to watch the sunset. A red light in the summit cone flipped on and a sightseeing helicopter circled overhead.
Even though High Point had fallen on hard times because of Jersey neglect it is very much a beloved summit. A Yahoo phone check revealed more than 44 area businesses with “High Point” in their name ranging from a Wheat Beer company to a car dealer.
The white blazed Appalachian Trail passes through here hitting a network of nine other trails. The Park is a year round fun spot with cabins, camping, snowmobiling, dog-sledding and cross country skiing.
The biggest attraction in the area is the Delaware Water Gap.
Call the park at (973) 875-4800 for more information
This was my pet golden Lila’s first highpoint.