Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond
Delaware Water Gap
Summary: Steeply climb to the summit of Mt. Tammany (1527') for amazing views over the Delaware Water Gap, then follow the Kittatinny ridge along a fire road before heading over to beautiful Sunfish Pond, a glacial lake 1,000 feet above the surrounding area. Return is via the scenic Dunnfield Creek Trail.
The Gap is one of the most beautiful areas to hike in NJ (in our opinion), and is especially stunning in Fall. The fire road is not as popular/crowded as the areas around Mt. Tammany or Sunfish Pond can get. Bonus: Late July to August the wild blueberries along the fire road ripen.
11.3 miles; challenging. The hike up Mt. Tammany is short but steep (1250 feet in 1.5 miles, and a little minor scrambling involved). This hike can make for a long day; make sure you are up for it as once you are down the fire road a ways, there isn't a shorter bailout. The trail surface is mostly rocky except for the ridge.
Longer, about 11.8: Go around Sunfish Pond, continuing on the Turquoise Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
Option: Return via Appalachian Trail instead of Dunnfield Creek. The AT is slightly shorter and w/o the creek hops, but less scenic in our opinion (and more busy).
Parking: N40 58.328 W75 07.555
Route 80 west to just before the last exit in New Jersey. On the right there is a sign for Dunnfield Creek Natural Area. There is a parking lot on the right, then a large main lot in the center and if both are full, you can park on the grass just past the main lot. [directions from nps.gov here]. The road is one way so you can't backtrack to a passed lot unless you get back onto Rt 80 and come around.
In the photo gallery we've added a photo overview of the parking lots as it's just easier to show it than explain it.
Restrooms: Porta-john in the far side of the lot (as of May 2011). But we've gone and there hasn't been one. If that is the case, there are some at the visitor center.
To get to the visitor center: head back out onto Rt. 80 from the lot and take the very next exit right, then make a left like you are going to go around to 80 E, then instead of merging onto 80, immediately head to the right into the visitor center, there are rows of toilets there.
Hike Directions: OVERVIEW: RED DOT to Mt. Tammany summit - BLUE DOT - MT. TAMMANY FIRE RD - TURQUOISE TRAIL/SUNFISH FIRE ROAD to Sunfish Pond - backtrack on Turquoise to SUNFISH POND FIRE ROAD - Dunnfield CREEK TRAIL from the southern end of Sunfish Pond - AT
0.0 - Near the entrance of the parking lot, on the right side, look for the big brown RED DOT sign. The trail is marked with a red dot painted on a white background.
0.5 - nice view where you can see the summit (on your left), Rt. 80 and the Delaware River going through "The Gap" in the center, and Mt Minsi on your right.
now get some snazzy gear!
There is a very rocky section shortly after this viewpoint. Continue to follow the RED DOT trail up - there is only one trail in this area and is mostly easy to follow. Pay attention on the rocky sections for markers to guide you through - they may be painted on the rocks as well.
1.5 miles - At the summit you have broad views of the entire Gap area, Rt. 80 and Mt Minsi. You can scramble down the rocks or stay at the top. This is also a good area to watch hawks.
This is the end of the RED DOT trail. Look for the BLUE markers and follow them behind the viewpoint. BLUE follows a woods road.
1.7 - Pass a BLUE marker sign on your left. Continue straight on the mostly level Mt. Tammany Fire Road, which is unblazed. Pass a limited view on your right.
3.8 - Pass a HELIPORT sign.
5.2 - Turn LEFT onto the beginning of TURQUOISE. The trailhead can be hard to spot. There should be a little rock pile.
You might be able to tell you've missed the turn if the Fire Road gets increasingly overgrown. (At least it was in Aug '08 when we decided to keep going past the turn for Turquoise just to see what was there... nothing really, and it was overgrown and full of blowdowns, so we turned around after .75 mile.)
The Turquoise Trail is narrow and close, and heads downhill to cross Dunnfield Creek, before heading back uphill.
5.8 - Turquoise meets up with the Sunfish Fire Road. Turn LEFT. The fire road is co-joined with Turquoise, but the markings are sparce.
6.2 - Turn RIGHT as Turquoise leaves the Fire Road and heads toward Sunfish Pond.
6.4 - Arrive at Sunfish Pond. There are rock slabs to sit on with a view of the Pond. Back track on Turquoise to the Fire Road when ready to leave.
[option: continue around the pond on Turquoise, turning LEFT onto the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) which follows around the western shore of the Pond. At the southern end of the Pond, the options to head back are the Appalachian Trail or Dunnfield Creek Trail]
6.6 - Back at the Sunfish Fire Road, turn RIGHT onto the fire road.
7.2 - Southern end of Sunfish Pond. There is a bench here and another nice view from this end of the Pond.
With your back to the pond, look LEFT to start following Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN). [option: go straight and follow the Appalachian Trail back instead]
Head uphill and then down a steep rocky section. After a low wet section, the creek will eventually come into view, and the trail follows it the rest of the way back.
Keep an eye out for the GREEN markers which can be sometimes hard to spot. They will also indicate several times to cross Dunnfield Creek. After a heavy rain, some crossings can be a bit tricky.
9.5 - Pass the Holly Springs Trail.
10.6 - Pass the BLUE DOT trail on the LEFT. There are some nice water cascades and a bridge to cross.
The Appalachian Trail comes in from the right (there is a large signpost). The Dunnfield Creek trail ends here. Follow the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) as it follows the creek back to the lot.