Highland Lakes in Northern New Jersey lies near the border shared with New York. It is surrounded by the Wawayanda State Park, and this location is probably key in the community’s dedication to natural resources. Once a summer retreat from New York City just across the Hudson River, now many of the homes are occupied year-round as residents embrace the opportunities for outdoor activities on the lakes and in the parks surrounding them. Dog-lovers and their pups are no exception, and there is much to enjoy in Highland Lakes for both.
The Pequannock Water Shed region is a popular hiking destination that is a great getaway for a dog-lover and his favorite furry friend. The watershed is a vast area covering much of Passaic County in which Highland Lake resides, and its Hank’s Pond Loop is a popular one. The 5-mile trail accommodates all skill levels, including leashed dogs. The views of the lake are spectacular, and there are large numbers of waterfowl and other wildlife for Fido to sniff out. The trail surface is dirt with interesting rocky outcroppings. Please note that a permit is reqired to hike in the watershed area.Whatever Highland Lakes natural resources you choose to explore, you will delight in the varied terrain and ecosystems in this rural area of northern New Jersey. Woofderful!
Wawayanda State Park is a pet-friendly area that offers many amenities and activities for a human and her furry bestie in the shadow of Wawayanda Mountain. Forested land surrounds Wawayanda Lake, which features non-motorized boating and paddling, as well as fishing its stocked species. The clear water is great for swimming, and while Fido can’t venture onto the beaches, he can certainly jump in the water from a boat or canoe, both of which are available to rent! There are more than 40 miles of marked trails for hiking, some more demanding than others, including the trail to the top of Wawayanda Mountain. A 20-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail passes through the park, and this section is rugged with rocks and steep terrain. The winter brings cross-country skiing, ice fishing, skating and snowmobiling, and your fur-baby is welcome to join you for all of it. Truly a dog-friendly recreational park, this one is not to be missed if you are in the Highland Lakes area of New Jersey!
The Willowbrook neighborhood of Highland Lakes is home to High Breeze Farm, a 160-acre working farm that is dedicated to traditional agricultural methods. In this way, High Breeze maintains a historical perspective on farming. Visitors are welcome, and leashed dogs, too. Because the farm is part of Wawayanda Park, and hiking trails pass through its property, people and pups are a frequent sight. Families are frequent visitors as well, so gather the kids and the fur-baby and head on over! The farm has a farm stand where they sell their eggs, meat and maple syrup, so stop by and take home a treat!
McAfee is a neighborhood of Vernon, a township immediately to the west of Highland Lakes. This neighborhood is where you’ll find the Vernon Off-Leash Dog Park, set on 2 acres of fenced grassland. A stand of trees in one corner with benches and chairs provides a shady spot for humans to sit while their dogs frolic and get to know one another. Drinking water and toys are provided, as are waste bags tied to the fence for your convenience. The grass is a pleasant surface for the pooches’ feet and there is ample space for ball and frisbee-tossing, or just running at full speed.
The Town Center neighborhood of Vernon is home to the dog-friendly Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area which contains a 3-mile rail trail perfect for hiking with your fur-baby. The scenic trail has a slight upward incline toward an abandoned iron mine, but is generally flat, with a surface of dirt and rocks, some big but not impossible to get over. The trail is wide enough to accommodate side-by-side hiking and more than one dog in tow, and provides scenic views, especially from the elevation around the mine. All of the trail is shaded, but be sure to carry plenty of water for yourself and your pup. In the winter, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing. It’s pawsome!
West Milford is a town adjacent to Highland Lakes on its eastern side, and the Town Center neighborhood is where you’ll find the West Milford Dog Park on the property of the Pequannock Feed and Pet Supply store. It features separate large and small dog sections, with double safety gates for each. Its grassy 1 acre is large enough for the fastest runner and the most raucous play. The park provides drinking water, waste bags and receptacles, plus benches for the human members of the family to sit and chat with other humans while the doggos frolic. There is even agility equipment for those dogs and owners inclined toward more structured play or training. Woofderful!