Nestled in the Appalachian Wilderness of New Jersey, Stokes State Forest attracts campers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts all over thanks to its many viewpoints and wild terrain. Spanning over 16,400 acres, visitors can expect exciting adventures crammed with tons of wilderness activities. Surprisingly, there’s a large range of amenities within the various campgrounds located throughout. In addition, there’s a host of unique geographic features to keep even the most dedicated busy for weeks.
Speaking of geography, there’s no shortage of terrain diversity here. For example, Sunrise Mountain towers 1,653 feet over the undeveloped New Jersey farmland to the East, as well as virgin mountain ranges and forests to the West. Located along the legendary Appalachian Trail, this mountain peak is the most frequently visited site in Stokes State Forest. If you’re not one to hike up the side of a mountain for a view, Sunrise Mountain Rd. traverses all the way to the top for those traveling in a vehicle.
Nestled below, the 500+ acre Tillman Ravine Natural Area is a green wonderland home to endangered species such as the Barred Owl. The ravine showcases world-class trails spanning throughout its terrain, complete with babbling brooks and overly-curious bears to dodge during your stay.
Additionally, Stokes State Forest is home to the Lake Ashroe Recreation Area which has an area for Kayaking and Paddle Board rentals. Even though there is no boat ramp, nearby Lake Ocquittunk is perfect for small, electric motor boats. In contrast, those looking for swimming should head to Stony Lake, which features lifeguards on duty and a great recreation area for picnicking.
Campgrounds are plentiful here, with four different areas to camp at depending on your needs. Shotwell to the East, and Steam Mills to the west both offer normal park amenities, and are perfect for tent campers, or people interested in camping in a lean-to. Just West of Shotwell, Haskin’s Group Camping Area consists of 9 group campsites perfect for groups of 10-65 depending on the campsite. Finally, Lake Ocquittunk has its own campground with reservable campsites, and cabins as well. Fees & permits vary here, so be sure to check the park website for more info.
Regardless of your interests, if you love the outdoors in any form you’re going to enjoy your stay here. Stokes State Forest literally offers everything an enthusiast could ever dream of doing. From its babbling creeks and forested ravines, to the breathtaking mountain peaks, this is an Appalachian camping experience you don’t want to miss out on.
Enjoyed a great weekend at Stokes State Forest. We stayed at the campsite at Lake Ocquittunk Area. Campsite was very spacious and had a platform where we were able to fit two tents. There was plenty of space on the site for more tents. Site came with bear proof bin for garbage and fire ring. Very comfortable site, quiet but still with plenty of amenities. Bathrooms and shower were all single stall and very clean, only a 5 min walk from our site. Two water sources nearby as well. We didn’t have direct views of the lake, but were within a minute walk to some quiet views of the lake. Also the location is amazing; there are trail heads near the campsites and longer trails, including access to the Appalachian Trail within a short 10-15 minute drive. You can also rent kayaks and SUP at the main office. Highly recommend Stokes.
I would definitely recommend this campsite to anyone wanting a beautiful, remote setting, but with all of the conveniences that the campgrounds offer. Anyone from a beginner to an expert would enjoy Stokes. Whether it be just a short, relaxing weekend trip or an adventure-packed week long trip, this place has the potential to be whatever you make it.
Has the perfect balance of feeling secluded without feeling completely alone in the middle of nowhere; the campsite we were specifically on was just far enough to be remote-feeling and fully private with trees surrounding it
Cute little pond right on the campgrounds
Our site had a fire ring, a picnic table, and a large sturdy pole with a hook for your lantern/mesh dry bag/etc
Even, rocky, yet soft enough ground to sleep on, many trees available for hammock camping
There was a huge, nasty storm one night that we stayed there, with terrible downpour and flash flood warnings, our site was elevated and did not get flooded
A lot of firewood and kindling in the area to be gathered, or you can buy firewood right from the office
Lots of stuff to do in the area for nature-lovers and outdoors-enthusiasts (Hiking trails, fishing/fly-fishing, sightseeing, mountain-biking, kayaking/paddle-boarding (rentals in the area if you do not own), hunting, swimming, horseback riding, waterfall-hunting, bird/wildlife watching (there are hawks, rabbits, owls, deer, toads, snakes, turtles, frogs, foxes, bats, salamanders, many interesting bugs, beavers, and bears in the area, you never know what you will see), lots of beautiful brooks and streams throughout the entire park, many awesome remote areas to set up your hammock and relax) Whoever said that there wasn't much to do here is just either not an outdoors person or straight up lying!
Water and dumpsters are within walking distance, or if you are not up to walking you can just take a short drive to fill up and dispose of your trash
There are outhouses scattered around, or if you are really needing a clean restroom where you can wash your hands, the park office's restroom is always open and very clean
Can be buggy at night time however, I was pleasantly surprised to have experienced zero mosquito bites and ZERO ticks on ourselves and even our dog (however she did have a leech on her from playing in the brook all day). We moderately used bug spray on ourselves and the dog had her flea and tick topical on.
Beautiful view of the stars on a clear night (Which can be breathtaking especially to city folk or those that cannot see stars from their homes)
Can hear the traffic from 206, but generally gets much quieter at night
Campsites are close enough that you may occasionally hear other groups if they are being very loud (We were next to a group campsite that had a very noisy party crowd, but could really only hear them at their loudest, and we weren't bothered)
Tent sites are located just off the dirt road where people travel to get to their sites, which means other campers' cars will occasionally pass right through your area. If this bothers you, be sure to book a site as far back as possible. Ex: Site T137 should have no vehicle traffic but your own and is the most remote of that area
Water fill stations can be a bit busy at certain times
Our fire ring rack was bent, but luckily we came prepared with our own rack to place on top of it and it worked out
Lots of poison ivy in the area, if you are not immune to it be very mindful of where you are stepping!
Our neighbor warned us that they got a flat tire after arriving at their campsite, and after searching their site found a bunch of nails almost intentionally thrown about. It's not the park's fault and the rangers were made aware of it. Carefully check your site after arriving for anything out of place and report to the office if necessary to keep these campsites safe and enjoyable.
Points of interest nearby the campsite:
Big Flat Brook - A beautiful babbling brook that runs all throughout the area. Has great fly fishing for stocked rainbow trout. Access to the brook was only a short but beautiful hike north from our site through some thistle fields and woodlands.
Buttermilk falls (Tallest waterfall in NJ), Tillman Ravine, Dingmans Ferry/Falls, and my personal favorite, Silver Spray Falls - Multiple gorgeous waterfalls and ravines just waiting to be explored, all within ~15-20 min by car. I definitely recommend checking them out while you are camping here especially if you live far away from the area.
Sunrise Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain - Catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset on top of Sunrise Mountain, which is a pleasant, scenic car ride directly to the top where there is a small parking lot, a smelly outhouse, and a nice picnic table area with a great view. Rattlesnake Mountain is a part of the Appalachian Trail and is somewhat barren towards the top which makes for excellent views. Like its name, it's not uncommon to see many snakes in the area, rattlesnakes tend to hang out on the top and sunbathe on the rocks. Keep your pets on a leash and have a stick handy just in case, however, they will leave you alone if you keep your distance.
Lake Ashroe, Stony Lake, Lake Ocquittunk - Many lakes for multiple activities in the area such as fishing (trout stocked waters), kayaking, swimming (Stony lake has a beach area with lifeguards, restrooms, and picnic areas. Check their website for more info.)
Horseback riding - A few great horseback riding places nearby, some offering trail rides through the beautiful park.
Appalachian Trail - The widely-known Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only trail in the world, that runs all the way from Maine to Georgia goes right through this area. You may run into very interesting people from all over who are thru-hiking the AT.
PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR VISIT. LEAVE NO TRACE. KEEP OUR PARKS BEAUTIFUL. THANK YOU.
Great fun. 8 guys from our Bible study group. Lots of firewood available to gather. Clean site. Well behaved neighbors. Definitely will go there again.
Sussex county is beautiful. Stokes is such a peaceful campground! We stay in the cabins. It’s great to have the small kitchen when camping with the family. A must see campground.
The cabins by the lake are great! Very peaceful. Great hiking. Close to High Point. Dale’s market is great. Sunrise Mountain is a must. Close to Space Farms. Fishing is ok, changes year to year. Showers are nice. Nice place for families.
Stokes State Forest has four campgrounds. The Steam Mill Camping Area is tucked out the of the way and is the most primitive. It is the smallest of the campgrounds with 27 sites only suitable for tents or small trailers/campervans. No pets or alcohol allowed.
The campground has a pit toilet and a well. Each large campsite has a picnic table, fire pit, and lantern hook. Some sites also have a tent platform. Many sites are a bit rocky.
We selected site T219. It was a solid choice: private but close to the toilet and water. Some sites located around the opposite side of the ring back up to a babbling brook. The rushing water will soothe you to sleep.
Remember, this is bear country so proper food storage is a must. Bear lockers are not provided. The area also has ticks and rattlesnakes.
Outdoor activities in the area abound. Go fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. There are 21 marked trails that cover over 63 miles within the boundaries of Stokes State Forest. Twelve miles are part of the Appalachian Trail. Pick up a hiking map at the park office or download the Avenza Maps app.
This visit we hiked the Tillman Ravine trail (tip: make the trail a loop and visit both the ravine and the nearby old cemetery).
You can also drive or hike to Sunset Mountain Scenic Overlook for a view of High Point Monument. High Point Monument is the highest elevation in New Jersey and is located in High Point State Park which borders Stokes State Forest on the north. High Point State Park also offers camping, hiking, sightseeing opportunities. And, on the western border of Stokes State Forest is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. So, there is lots of outdoors to get out and explore!
We camped at the Steam Mill Camping Area in Stokes State Forest in our campervan over a chilly autumn weekend. We had the opportunity to cook some soup on our stovetop and chill out by the campfire. And, as Rangers for The Dyrt, we get products to test from time to time so we were psyched to try out some new dinnerware and cutlery. This included the FlexiBowl and GoBites from humangear.
What made these humangear products pretty awesome? Well, the fun colors to start. I mean, seriously, my orange bowl rules. The FlexiBowl also has some neat features: it’s flexible - just like the name suggests - and foldable. The bowl can be squished and stuffed anywhere. And, the top section can be folded down to create a smaller bowl. The FlexiBowl is versatile yet durable. It held my hearty, warm soup just perfectly.
I paired the FlexiBowl with one of the GoBites utensils (the Uno model). The Uno model is my favorite - it has a fork on one side and a spoon on the other side. Very simple and convenient. The other GoBites models include the Duo (separate fork and spoon that can snap together) and the Trio (a fork, spoon, and knife - with bottle opener - in a case).
PRO TIP: I keep the Trio GoBites model in my travel pack at all times. It recently came in handy on a (non-camping) trip to Sardinia. The knife on the Trio allowed me to slice some delicious local cheese to pair with bread, jam, and wine that was purchased from the grocery store. YUM.
If you’re a novice or experienced stokes is the place for you. They have tent sites, lean to sites, cabin sites, trailer/rv sites, and some of the home owners in the area rent their homes out. Ever since I found stokes about 4 years ago I haven’t went anywhere else. I truly can’t say enough good things about stokes. I generally stay at steammill, definitely check out the map and look at the location of each site. I definitely suggest staying in the outside of the circle the sites are bigger but tbh even when there’s people around it’s still an incredibly Peaceful place. Even to go there just for a hike is worth every second. Pictures posted are of both the site and the woods surrounding the site.
Stokes has a little bit of everything. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Each section that you hike through is like a fairy tale. It truly is such an amazing place. The people that live there are amazing I meet a new person every time I go, and the other campers are always incredibly respectful. Highly suggest that people go here.
Behins this particular site there is a beautiful creek that runs through most of the woods. It’s just such a serene place.
Stokes is the classic state forest camping, I’ve staying on group sites which are large and lots of fun to bring friends and family. Plenty of room to play games, volleyball, kickball, football are some we enjoy. Great hiking within the park and other local trails close by. Fresh drinking water! It’s so good! Bathrooms and property are clean, Rangers don’t tend to bother visitors, unless causing a issue/ruckus. The park has a no alcohol policy, however if your responsible and out of sight with it, it’s not an issue. Always a fun time at Stokes, lake with fishing, smaller sites and lean-toos are available.
My husband and I like to be it in the middle of no where. We have done backpacking trips in the past but this was he first REAL camping trip with our 2 year old and we felt like we had to keep him quiet, for the sake of others. It was a beautiful area, lots of things to do for the kids… we strayed away from the crowded areas and explored on our own.