Nice Hiking area
Jesse Fried • Dec 16, 2018
Culver's Gap is a rare break in the flat-topped Kitatinny Ridge. It's located about two thirds of the way north along that ridge's journey through our state, from the Delaware Water Gap to High Point, in Sussex County. Federal route 206, a highway of secondary importance, a passes through it en route to Milford, PA., and gives access to several Delaware River crossings.
It's a scenic area, with steep slopes dropping off several hundred feet on either side of the gap, covered in a mix of white pine, pitch pine, oaks and other hardwoods. Culver Lake, a large lake immediately east of the gap, adds to the view. The stretches of road leading up to it are not windy or steep, gaining elevation gradually, though there are a few curves on the western side.
Culver Lake is very built up with houses along all of its shores, but it still looks like quite a nice spot. It's a big lake for NJ. Kitatinny Lake is west of the gap, around the mountain a bit. It's smaller, also surrounded by houses, and in a more mountainous setting. The presence of the lakes makes me supect the gap is glacial in origin.
This area is the eastern gateway to Stokes State Forest. A parking lot and trailhead are located just west of it off Route 206, providing access to the Appalachian Trail and other side trails. The AT follows the ridge, and some side trails, woods roads, and a portion of the narrow paved road up Sunrise Mountain make a loop possible. The trails that climb each side of the gap are especially nice because you can look out on the blue surface of the lake directly below.
The forest is nice here. It's all very oak dominated. The dry ridge top also has both white pine and pitch pine, plus other hardwoods. The west-facing slopes of the ridge has some hemlocks, and some mountain laurel. Lower hills to the west in Stokes Forest have beech mixed in. A swamp off of the Sunrise Mountain road has an extensive and beautiful growth of Rhododendron.
There are rock outcrops with nice views on either side of the gap. A fire tower a mile north of the gap along the ridge provides the best view in the area. Kitatinny Ridge stretches off to the north, with some twists and turns and highpoints at Sunrise Mountain and High Point. The Catskills are visible in the distance. To the east, one looks out across the lakes, to the rolling forested hills and fields of the Great Valley with the NJ Highlands in the background. To the west, the edge of the Pocono Plateau, with its hemlock lined ravines in between slopes of hardwoods, dominates the view. The western horizon is very flat, with a few promontories in the Pocono region such as High Knob sticking out. I think I saw a portion of Moosic Mountain outside of Scranton in the hazy distance.