Exploring Hartshorne Woods Park in the Highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Woods Park

As part of my “spring and summer” NJ bucket list, I want to go to more local parks.  Last year we went to a lot of northeast parks, but we’ve been feeling the shore this year!  I’ve already been to Turkey Swamp in Freehold as well as Cattus Island in Toms River.

Anyway, one park I’ve wanted to go to was Hartshorne Woods Park in the Atlantic Highlands.  It’s a little bit of a treck (about 80 minutes), but one random weekday last week, we decided to drive up to Hartshorne Park. Hartshorne Woods Park is in monmouth county parks and has plenty of easy trails including the rocky point trail, laurel ridge trail, and battery loop.

Hartshorne Woods Parkis a lot hillier than anticipated.  I thought, oh it’s along the shore it will probably be flat.  That was not the case and my Garmin said I climbed about 80 flights of stairs.  Not that it matters, but don’t go to Hartshorne Woods Park expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne Woods Park is 794-acre site and overlooks the Navesink River.  After some research, I came to find out it’s one of the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast.   If you are looking for a great park for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking (we saw many bikers), Hartshorne Woods Park is for you!  No, Hartshorne Woods Park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing that drew my husband and I here was the history of Hartshorne Woods Park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Woods Park to modernize coastal defense.  You can view several of the bunkers in the park.

With the rise of Airpower (go Air Force).  Military bunkers were not needed as much. During the Cold War, Hartshorne Woods Park served as a missile defense site and command center.  Hartshorne Woods Park was equipped with radar, computers and electronic plotting devices.  All of these structures have been removed, but the bunkers are still in place.

The Hartshorne Woods Park site is now listed officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


As I mentioned, I hadn’t done a lot of research about hiking in Hartshorne Woods Park.  If I had, I would have known all of the historic sites are in the parking lot, and the park is much hillier than anticipated.  We got there around noon, and it took us just about 4 hours to hike 8 miles.  We stopped, we took photos, we looked at the history.  Hartshorne Woods Park is a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up doing the grand tour about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site and battery lewis at Hartshorne Woods Park.

I didn’t expect so much green at Hartshorne Woods Park, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected Hartshorne Woods Park to be on the water since that is what people took photos of!

Hartshorne park

A very large treeHartshorne park

Another large treeHartshorne park

Most of my photos are from the military site which is within 200 yards of the parking lot.

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands
A Map of the site
Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands
The Bunker

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Now onto the hiking portion at Hartshorne Woods Park.  With the hiking, it goes deep into the pines as well as near the water.  There are so many different views!

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

In all, it was a beautiful hike in the forest as well as along the water.  I’m glad we finally made it up to Hartshorne Woods Park.

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

What was the last historical place you went? Have you been to Hartshorne Woods Park?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?


  1. Wow–that place looks awesome. As far as historical places, my wife and I stayed at the oldest hotel that has been in continuous operation in Texas this past weekend. It’s also haunted. And we hiked at Caprock Canyons State Park, which is where Charles Goodnight drove some of the few remaining buffalo to save them from the hunters in the late 1800’s. (Their descendants are still there.) And yes to the beach! Panama City Beach, Florida in June!

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