On Sunday, my wife & I headed out to a section of the Appalachian Trail that has some great woods & fantastic overlooks (one w/ ~300 degree vista). On the hike, we came across this beauty just as he/she was about to cross the trail. I'm not sure who was more startled ...
Sadly, this magnificent species is quite uncommon in NJ & still suffers from human interaction - a quote from the NJ DEP "The timber rattlesnake may arguably be among the state's most endangered species. They occur in relatively small numbers in the few remaining remote and rugged areas of the state. They are often the targets of wanton killing and suffer continued persecution from illegal collecting."
Sadly, I didn't realize until later that I could have also taken a video or at least captured the rattling in a sound bite (it rattled continuously while in the defensive posture)- still not thinking beyond the old 'gotta take a pic' mentality. Pics were snagged with my iPod Touch so resolution quite low, exposure poor, etc.
Decided to leave - sort of. If you look closely, you'll notice the head is turned around and beginning to come back to the trail. I'm guessing that it was ~4 feet long.
View overlooking the Delaware River from one of the fields
Overall, it was a beautiful day for a hike. In addition to the gorgeous Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), we also saw a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), Red-bellied snake (approx 7 inches long) (Storeria occipitomaculata) & a young black bear as well as numerous birds, bugs, variety of trees, etc - a great day to be out of the house. We also talked with several thru-hikers on the trail - interesting people.