New Jersey Lake Denmark in autumn

A Trip to See Fall Leaves – One Day in New Jersey

Looking for autumn colors, for one of our fall trips we revisited New Jersey. Usually, we drive up to Northern Arizona to see the aspens turn yellow in Flagstaff . But we were planning a trip to the East Coast for a while, and we thought autumn would be the best time to visit.

I lived in New Jersey for about a year when I first came to the US. It was the place Jeff, and I met, it was the site of our first home together. It wasn’t a great home, but considering we were young and broke, it wasn’t too bad. We lived in a tiny one-bedroom summer home we rented from a couple who became our friends. As cute as it was, the house itself never became our true friend though.

In the winter it was a nightmare – at least half the time. It stayed warm only while the heat was on, as soon as it turned off, within minutes we were freezing. One morning, we woke up with no running water; as it turned out, our pipes froze in the middle of the night. We couldn’t even take a shower. At least I could spend the day at our friends’ house while they were fixing it. Still, we were happy there. We also found ways to travel. I don’t know how, but it shows you, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

However, in the fall our home setting was gorgeous. Across the street from our home, a dense forest offered hiking trails we loved to explore. I enjoyed them most in the fall, when the leaves showcased their gold, yellow, red, and brown hues, while dried ones on the ground were crunching under my feet.

New Jersey forest in fall
A forest in New Jersey in autumn

While we didn’t stop by our old home on this trip, we took our daughter back to visit some of our favorite sites in the area.

White Meadow Lake and the Ford Manor House

One of our favorite places in the fall has always been White Meadow Lake. We loved spending time there when the trees around the homes burst with colors, from the bright red of the sugar maples to the oranges, yellows, browns and greens of other deciduous trees.

We stopped at the lake I remembered busy on the weekends. On a Thursday morning it was deserted. People were still at work and kids in school, so we had the place for ourselves. We enjoyed the crisp cold air, with the view of the trees around the lake.

New Jersey White Meadow Lake
Late morning by the lake – in White Meadow Lake

We didn’t linger much though since it was cold for us. Desert dwellers don’t take cold easily. Besides, we don’t even have proper clothing for it anymore. And, unless you are there in the summer, when you might swim or take a boat ride on the lake, there was nothing for us to do. Still, revisiting the site was nice, the lake and the surrounding trees made for a great view, even if we were freezing.

New Jersey the Ford Manor House Rockaway
The Ford Manor House, in much better shape than we remembered.

We drove by an old, Revolutionary-era house I remembered from when I lived in the area. It looked in much better shape than we remembered it, so we stopped to look. Though it was closed, I found out they called it the Ford Manor House, restored and opened for public viewing – on certain days. Since it wasn’t one of those days, we had no way to learn more about it, so we drove on.

A Walk at Lake Denmark

We spent most of the day on the shores of Lake Denmark. It has always been one of our all-time favorite “hikes”, though it’s just a walk according to our daughter, since it is flat the whole way. We used to walk it often while we lived in the area, and we walk it every time we visit New Jersey.

Trail on the shore of Lake Denmark, New Jersey
The trail on the shore of Lake Denmark

This time of the year, with the fall leaves in color, it was beautiful. Though it was a cold day (for us), once we moved, we felt comfortable, since the tres blocked the wind.

Again, the area seemed deserted. Our car was the only one in the parking lot, we were the only humans in the area. My daughter kept telling me we would encounter the Jersey Devil, but we saw no sign of him. A few days before Halloween, the creature was on her mind.

We only saw a few swans on the lake, beautiful fall foliage, and heard only the leaves crunching under our feet. I always loved the sound of dry leaves under my feet. Yes, maybe I was loud on purpose. The sound brought me back to my childhood in Transylvania. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons, even more so if I walked in the woods.

Fall in New Jersey - Lake Denmark
On the shore of Lake Denmark

The trees wore their fall colors, showing off the reds and oranges, brighter than the surroundings. A breeze was moving the surface of the water on the lake, but all was quiet other than my loud noisy footsteps. We stopped a few times to listen to the quiet of the place.

New Jersey Lake Denmark hike
The bright red of a sugar maple in sharp contrast with the more subdued surroundings at Lake Denmark

Even the swans were swimming without a sound, so I tried to walk slower and stop crunching the fallen leaves. If we wanted the fall colors, we were there at the perfect time.

Fall foliage in New Jersey Lake Denmark
Enjoying the fall colors by Lake Denmark in New Jersey

We drove through the woods once we walked back to the car, under the canopy of autumn leaves. Considering New Jersey is the most densely populated state of the US, on these back roads it seemed deserted. But this feeling didn’t last long. The roads were busy and driving wasn’t much fun once we joined some major roads.

Newfoundland and a Movie Set – The Station Agent

As we drove, I recognized the deserted train depot where they filmed the movieThe Station Agent. We drove right by it, so we stopped for a look.

The station looks like someone is living in it; it has a mailbox, curtains on the windows and painted door. So I felt weird taking a photo of someone’s home, even if I knew they had used it as a movie set at some point. But we stopped on the side street and walked on the deserted train tracks, spent a few minutes in the area.

New Jersey Newfoundland old station
The old station, a deserted train and an old base for a water tower in Newfoundland

Not movie most people heard of, I’m sure, but one I enjoyed. Slow-paced, it has time for character development, and the setting itself even seem to have a major impact on their lives. It almost feels like the setting is another character.

High Point, New Jersey

A visit to New Jersey would not be complete without a stop at High Point State Park, another place we visited often while living close by. Though we could drive to the Monument, the facilities were all closed for the season. It didn’t matter much; we drove up for the view, anyway.

At 1,803 feet (550 meters) High Point, true to its name, is the spot at the highest elevation in the state. It sits on the highest peak of the Kittatinny Mountains, and from the top we could see New Jersey and two of its neighboring states, Pennsylvania and New York.

Looking down on New Jersey from that height, it looked like the Garden State. I couldn’t think of it as the most populated state in the country, under the canopy. In the distance, towards New York we saw across the forested area the industrial part that most people think of when they hear “New Jersey.”

View from High Point NJ towards NY
The view from towards NY

Every direction we looked down from we saw trees, showing off their autumn colors. Though some were already brown and dry, most still wore their bright orange, yellow and red leaves.

The view towards Pennsylvania was the prettiest where we watched the Delaware lazily crossing the forest and we saw the two states on the shores. It reminded me of Transylvania, across the forests of the Carpathians, the land where I grew up.

View from High Point NJ towards Pennsylvania
View towards Pennsylvania

But we were still in New Jersey though our plans included crossing the Delaware over to Pennsylvania and later going through the Delaware Water Gap.

We only ended up driving through it since it was getting dark by the time we ended up at the Gap; but we spent more time in the woods in Morristown when we visited Jockey Hollow the next day.

Scroll to Top