Sunday, October 3, 2021

Appalachian Trail Stairway to Heaven Pinwheel Vista

Wawayanda State Park /
Appalachian Trail National Scenic Area
Sussex Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Appalachian Trail: White blaze
Appalachian Trail Spur: Blue blaze

Total Time: 1:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.7 Miles

Pros: Very good climb with excellent view
Cons: Lots of people and very busy, parking is a challenge
Hike Type: Up and out
Level of Difficulty: Difficult

Google Maps of Parking:
https://goo.gl/maps/i4WHuzpDhoLcFfq59

This was the last stretch of the Appalachian Trail within the proximity to my home that I had not yet hiked. I had meant for a while to hike here, and finally had the opportunity on this hike. This hike is a dramatic part of the Appalachian Trail where it climbs up Wawayanda Mountain, quite steeply and over rocks and steps. The trail is very steep and can be difficult for inexperienced hikers, but it affords an excellent view on the top. However, it is a very busy trail with lots of people, and as the day progressed, there were more and more hikers.

The parking is also a bit of a challenge. There is a small parking area at the trailhead, but it was full. Immediately next to the trailhead is a paid lot where you can download an app for your phone to pay. There is also parking across the street at Heaven Hill Farms but it's a bit of a walk. I was lucky to get a very tight parking spot being that I had a small car.

I parked before starting the trail up the mountain, I instead crossed Route 94 and took the Appalachian Trail into a cow pasture, where the trail actually goes in the field together with the cows. At the boardwalk part I turned around, back to the main area, and started the hike in earnest. The first part of the hike is mostly level, walking through some more fields, crossing under a power line, and getting a great view of the mountain ahead as I approached it. Upon reaching the foot of the mountain, the trail turns abruptly to the right and enters a field of boulders before starting the ascent. From here the ascent is steep and all the way up. The trail continues up the mountain, and then does a turn to the left continuing the ascent. The reason this section of the trail is called "Stairway to Heaven" is because of the steep ascent along many steps with a beautiful view at the top.

After a steep set of stairs, the trail joins the blue-blazed spur trail to the view, which is a short distance after the large rock pile at the trail intersection. Then there is a short climb to the view, known as the Pinwheel Vista. It's actually not the top of Wawaynda Mountain, but it is the primary view. The view faces north, west, and southwest, and is very expansive. There was already a crowd at the view but it was still manageable. After enjoying the view, I turned around and headed down the mountain along the same route, and headed back to my car along the same trail.

Appalachian Trail Through the Cow Pasture


Cow Calling It's Young


It's Calf Came and Started Nursing

Beginning of the Hike from the Parking Lot

Trail Plaque

Power Lines in the Field Before Ascending the Mountain

Wawayanda Mountain the Distance

Sign about Venomous Snakes

Approaching Wawayanda Mountain

Ascending the Boulders

Why it's Called Stairway to Heaven

Pike of Rocks and the Spur Path

Approaching the View

Pinwheel Vista View

Overlooking Heaven Hill Farms











View on the Bottom after the Descent