There are plenty of hikes in New Jersey that are lovely immersions in nature, but which offer no payoff at the summit. Excluding some obvious spots, so often vistas at the mountaintop are obscured by foliage, if they even exist at all. So it goes with our lazy, sloping mountains.
So when we came upon a stunning vista on a recent hike, we literally gasped. It took our damn breath away. And fall’s the optimal time to tackle this short hike: the Goat Hill Overlook outside of Lambertville.
The Goat Hill Overlook was used by both Gens. George Washington and Charles Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War to scope out opposing activity on the Delaware River. There’s a boulder cluster on one of the trail’s offshoots that has locally been known as Washington’s Rock. No indication was given if he was responsible for the unfortunate amount of graffiti on it.
The overlook is part of the Goat Hill Preserve, which has trails throughout with several vista points. The trails total probably only 2-3 miles, which makes it not so much of a gamble to go off any of the dozen or so offshoot trails from the main one.
Parking is easy; go to the end of George Washington Road, and pull into a spot short of the gate. The main trail to Goat Hill Overlook is well-maintained with small gravel, and you’ll see some of the prairie-traversing offshoots almost immediately. The trails are not well-blazed at all, so it truly is an adventure to go off the main line, but it’s worth it in our experience. Here’s a map, just in case.
About a quarter-mile on the main trail, you’ll see an entrance on the left to head toward Washington’s Rock. A small dirt trail through foliage and over tree roots leads to a small clearing with the aforementioned boulders. This is not the place to take young kids, FYI—the boulder itself is climbable, but the drop is immediate and steep. From this vantage point you’ll get a glimpse of the locally revered wing dam and the hills of New Hope, PA.
From there, you can head south to two more overlooks—the Old Mill and South—and the old quarry. The trail is matted dirt and tree debris, but a much more natural experience than the main trail. Loop back to the main trail after about a mile of walking.
You can then head up to the Goat Hill Overlook (or just head back after checking out Washington’s Rock) which is about a half-mile up the trail, with a soft incline. It’s a super easy hike. The Overlook is composed of a grass clearing and a sign that says “overlook” but you’ll see what we’re talking about immediately. Walk up to the edge of the clearing and you’ll have a stunning view of New Hope, the Lambertville bridge and the 202 bridge up a little bit.
Leaves were just starting to change color on our walk, but for its ease and payoff, we’ll be back in a few weeks to peep some leaves and take in this spectacular view again.