Worthington State Forest, Columbia

#31 of 55 in Nature in New Jersey
Forest · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Worthington State Forest is a state forest located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, just above the water gap, in Warren County, New Jersey. It covers an area of 6,660 acres (27.0 km2) and stretches for more than 7 miles (11 km) along the Kittatinny Ridge near Columbia. The park offers hiking, camping (including a hike-in, primitive area) and canoeing and kayaking on the Delaware. There are some twenty miles of hiking trails within the park, including seven miles of the Appalachian Trail, which passes through the park. The park is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

The forest is named after Charles Campbell Worthington, who purchased 8,000 acres (32 km2) of land of both sides of the Delaware River in 1903 as a hunting reserve.

He built Buckwood Lodge, a small mansion, on the side of Kittatinny Ridge, between the river and Sunfish Pond, a small lake higher up the ridge covering 258 acres (1.04 km2).

Worthington gave Sunfish Pond the name of Buckwood Lake, and used it as a water supply for his lodge. Worthington hunted deer in what is now the State Forest.
The forest includes the 1,085 acres (4.39 km2) Dunnfield Creek Natural Area; the creek is designated a Wild Trout Stream. The 258 acres (1.04 km2) Sunfish Pond Natural Area consists of a glacial lake and the surrounding chestnut oak forest, and can be reached by a steep and rocky climb along the AT. Mount Tammany, at 1,527 feet (465 m), offers view of the Delaware Water Gap.

The Old Mine Road, one of the earliest roads in the area, runs along the Delaware; it was used for transporting copper and slate from nearby mines and quarries, and is believed to have originally been a Native American trail that saw use by fur traders and Dutch settlers.
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Worthington State Forest reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
32 reviews
  • I camped at Worthington during August, 2019 for two out of a planned three night stay (Friday-Sunday). I spent almost the entire weekend listening to other people’s music; Latin dance club type...  more »
  • We love this State Forest. We saw two death Coyotes, Racoons, a skunk, squerrels! The river is beautifull, even in The winter..  more »
  • The campsites are nice and so are the grounds. Staff at the front desk needs to work on being more friendly and helpful (it was a pattern with several folks). Will give them a shot again next year and update if things improve.
  • I grew up camping here and it pains me to give them a bad review, and I’m doing it to try and call attention to serious need for improvement: ANIMAL SAFETY! The bear and coyote population have become extremely brazen and accustomed to people. Last time I camped there I saw multiple coyotes in the area and heard them yipping and carrying on in the bushes a few meters away from our tent and playing children at neighboring campsites. The kids at the front desk responded with “there are no verified sightings of coyotes in the park” and the rangers are nowhere to be found on a regular basis. Same thing with the bears: even 20 years ago you felt a little cheated if you didn’t see a bear once over the course of several weeks of camping, but now there’s a palpable fear of bears in the staff...but they won’t admit there’s a problem. They make it clear that this is the bears’ natural habitat but seem to neglect their responsibility in keeping the people visiting that habit safe. And the bears don’t feel at all threatened, which is a disservice to them because first attack and bears are going to be slaughtered as a matter of policy and also for revenge, on top of someone dying. On top of that, the rangers and staff don’t seem to take issue with people partying loudly in campsites. Years ago you wouldn’t dare bring booze in and last three times there I had to put up with blaring music day and night, next to people who were clearly chugging from a flask. I like partying as much as the next person, but not here. The park needs to do something about it because it is attracting the wrong element. Most serious is the animal control issue, and I fear nothing will be done until someone dies a horrific death and animals will be destroyed. Here is a clipping of what happened at another park, to illustrate how this will play out. I hope you take this warning seriously.

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