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Buttermilk Falls: A Hiker’s Guide to New Jersey’s Hidden Gem

If you're seeking an unforgettable outdoor adventure in New Jersey, Buttermilk Falls is a must-visit. Located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, this hike offers more than just breathtaking views of the state’s tallest waterfall.


Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey, cascading down a rocky cliff surrounded by lush green forest

Getting to Buttermilk Falls

To reach Buttermilk Falls, set your GPS to Buttermilk Falls Trailhead, Mountain Road, Layton, NJ. From Layton, follow NJ-615 North to Mountain Road. Note that the final approach is a gravel road, which may be closed in winter. Always check road conditions beforehand.


The Trail Experience

Starting from the convenient parking lot, hikers are immediately greeted by the magnificent Buttermilk Falls. Climb the steep stairs adjacent to the falls for different vantage points and prepare for a moderately challenging hike. The 7.2-mile trail features steep inclines and rocky sections, particularly as you ascend towards the Appalachian Trail.



Highlights Along the Way

  • Crater Lake: After the initial steep climb, you’ll reach Crater Lake. This serene spot is perfect for a rest and some scenic photography.

  • Hemlock Pond: Continuing along the trail, Hemlock Pond offers tranquil water views, making it a picturesque stop before heading back.


Interesting Facts About Buttermilk Falls

  • Tallest Waterfall: Buttermilk Falls is the tallest waterfall in New Jersey, cascading down approximately 200 feet.

  • Historical Significance: The area around the falls has a rich history, with remnants of old mills and other structures hinting at its past.

  • Wildlife: The surrounding forest is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, making it a great spot for nature enthusiasts.

  • Name Origin: The name "Buttermilk Falls" is believed to come from the frothy, white appearance of the water as it tumbles down the rocks, resembling buttermilk.



Trail Tips

  • Preparation: Given the steep sections, trekking poles are recommended.

  • Timing: The falls are most impressive after heavy rain, though the trail can be more challenging when wet.

  • Winter Visits: Note that Mountain Road, leading to the falls, is often closed to vehicles in winter. Check current road conditions before your trip.


Pair Your Adventure with a Culinary Delight

After an exhilarating hike, reward yourself with a visit to The Walpack Inn, a historic inn located in Sussex County, New Jersey. Known for its cozy, rustic atmosphere and delicious cuisine, The Walpack Inn is the perfect spot to relax and refuel. Try their famous New England Clam Chowder or savor the Prime Rib of Au Jus for a satisfying meal.


For more details on making the most of your day trip, including hiking tips and dining recommendations, check out this blog post.


For an enriching hiking experience that combines natural beauty with a bit of challenge, Buttermilk Falls stands out as a top destination in New Jersey. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature lover, the views and trails will leave you in awe.




For All Trails map and information click here.

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