Jenny Jump Mountain


Jesse Fried • Sep 16, 2019

Jenny Jump Mountain is a ridge in far western New Jersey. Right on the western edge of the Highlands, it rises above the rolling hills of the Great Valley around the town of Hope, with the Delaware Water Gap and Kitatinny Ridge looming behind.

The ridge is separated from the rest of the Highlands to the east by a completely flat plain of a few square miles in area, a rarity in this part of New Jersey. Wetlands around the Pequest River in former times, it has been drained and now seems to be used for growing vegetables in the rich alluvial soils. Separated from the rest of the Highlands by this valley, Jenny Jump Mountain sticks out by itself into the surrounding lowlands.

The campground of Jenny Jump State Forest is located right at an interesting rugged bit of landscape along the ridge: a steep, rocky sided gap about 250 feet deep cuts through the otherwise fairly flat ridge line. Is this a glacial feature? It seems likely to me. Exposed ledges on the ridge above this gap provide nice eastern and southern views.

The forest on the ridge is typical of the highlands: chestnut oak and red oak dominate. Hemlock and sugar maple have a minor presence in wet areas below the top.

Some trails in the park travel below the ridge. Here we observed an interesting lush maturing forest growing on what seemed to be former pastureland. Tulip poplar is extremely dominant, with hickories also rather common, and white ash making an occasional appearance. The trees in general were very tall and straight, thriving on what appears to be thick deposits of glacial till. A vigorous jungle-like shrub layer of spicebush, maple leaf viburnum and witch hazel was pretty much everywhere. Occasionally, on sites that were perhaps more disturbed or more recently disturbed, raspberry canes and multiflora rose took their place. As the trail rose to more rugged areas near the ridge top, we saw some impressive, large red oaks, in what appeared to be a less-disturbed forest.

The surrounding area is quite rural in character. To the west, Hope, NJ seems like a quaint museum town. Some of the other back roads in the area definitely gave off a conservative "Blue Lives Matter" type of feeling.