Climb steeply uphill to a fantastic overlook of the Delaware Water Gap and Mt. Minsi across the way.
3.5 miles. Rocky, steep. Short in length, but strenuous due to steepness. Rock scrambling. The return trail is less steep but still very rocky.
This loop goes up the RED DOT trail and returns down the BLUE trail. We recommend this way as the rock scrambles on RED DOT are a bit harder to negotiate going down.
- Easier variation: Up/down on BLUE. Miss a view on the RED trail and it’s a less interesting hike – but it’s easier and arrives at the same viewpoint.
- Shorter but still steep: 1.0 mile, to the first viewpoint and return.
- Easy/short option: 1.2 miles, instructions below. Waterfall only, no summit.
- Nearby, same lot: Sunfish Pond.
- Challenging, same lot: Check out Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond or our “Mind The Gap” hike.
- Nearby: Appalachian Trail – Sunfish Pond to Raccoon Ridge, Sunfish Pond – Garvey Springs and Douglas Loop, Mt. Minsi.
Our two cents:
This is one of the most popular hikes in New Jersey. You probably won’t have the trail to yourself but the view is worth the crowds. This is a stunning area of New Jersey and is gorgeous in any season.
And you never know what you are going to get when you hit the top…
We’ve been there on beautiful fall days with only a couple people quietly taking in the view… while one time we arrived to find tons of people, a guitar player belting out tunes, and people passing around a box of donuts. Ahhh, Jersey.
Note: Many people manage this route, but please be aware this is most certainly a hike – and not a la-di-da stroll in the park.
Easy 1.2 mile option:
For a scenic short hike to just the waterfall and cascades:
Go to the far end of the parking lot, head over the bridge, and walk along Dunnfield Creek. At the trail split (big ole sign there, can’t miss it), bear right to another bridge over the creek for Dunnfield Falls and water cascades. Retrace the route back to the lot.
This is an option if some people in a group don’t want to do the whole hike. The full route to Mount Tammany passes the falls and bridge on the way back so this could be a meeting area before hiking back along the creek together.
Dunnfield Creek not far from the parking lot:
Updated: 7/2020 – Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 2/2020: All trails are open, and the wildfire from 2/24/20 mainly burned underbrush.
6/2019: Re-hiked the RED DOT and BLUE loop, description updated, added photos, updated GPX file and Interactive Map (same route, just replacing our 10-year-old file (!) with newer GPS data.)
View of Mt. Minsi and the Delaware Water Gap at the first viewpoint.
The Delaware Water Gap is nowhere near the state of Delaware, as many people often believe. A “water gap” is when a river carves a notch through a mountain range.
At the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Delaware River has cut through the Kittatinny Ridge leaving a large gap with Mt. Tammany on the New Jersey side, and Mt. Minsi on the Pennsylvania side.
Map# 121 of the Kittatinny Trails map set.
The trails are in Worthington State Forest (State of New Jersey) but some portions are in The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (National Park Service) so resources can be found on both web sites.
Parking: N40.97213° W75.12592°
Dunnfield Creek parking area. Route 80 West to just before the last exit in New Jersey. On the right is a sign for Dunnfield Creek Natural Area.
There is a parking lot on the right, then a large main lot (parking on the grass area past the main lot is no longer allowed). The road is one way so you can’t backtrack to a passed lot unless you get back onto Rt 80 and come around.
Overview of the parking lots as it’s just easier to show it than explain it:
These lots are often filled very early. If those are full, try the overflow parking area at the Kittatinny Point visitor center and walk back to the trailhead.
Kittatinny Point Visitor Center: Head back out onto Rt. 80 from the Dunnfield 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.
If those three lots are full then try a nearby hike listed above.
Shuttle CLOSED indefinitely 2020 / Check www.gomcta.com for status. Seasonal HIKER SHUTTLE to the Dunnfield Creek lot and Kittatinny Visitors Center runs weekends and holidays from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day. Departing from the Park and Ride in PA. Check site for schedule/cost. Lots often are full early in the morning, this is to alleviate parking issues.
Portable toilet in the far side of the lot: not there as of 8/2020. Composting toilets at the Kittatinny Point Visitor Center (might only be open during office hours starting ~8am).
There is a rest area, Delaware Water Gap Travel Plaza, on Rt. 80 W. about 5 mins before the trailhead (8/2020: still closed due to the current health situation).
IMPORTANT: The RED DOT trailhead is at the beginning of the main lot, near the road (when driving into the lot, it is on your right). Look for the big brown sign with red blazes.
At the far end of the lot is the start of the rest of the area’s trails. People often mistake this as the trail to the summit. If you immediately head over a bridge, you are not on RED DOT.
While Mt. Tammany can be reached from the BLUE trail further down, people are usually looking to do the RED DOT trail.
We’ve run into people going the opposite way, miles away along Dunnfield (GREEN) or the Appalachian Trail, that thought they were hiking to Mount Tammany… so make sure to find the right trail.
Overview: RED DOT – BLUE – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) – Appalachian Trail (WHITE)
RED DOT is a red dot on white. Depending on the map, the BLUE trail may be BLUE DOT and on newer maps as “Pahaquarry Trail” – but for simplicity we’ve kept it as BLUE.
0.0 – Start heading uphill following RED DOT on a rocky trail.
0.5 – Very nice view where Mt. Tammany can be seen on the left, Rt. 80 and the Delaware River going through “The Gap” in the center, and Mt Minsi on the right.
/// Shorter Option: You can turn around here if you’ve decided that was enough hiking for you. ///
Continue following RED DOT as it levels off a bit before heading up a very rocky section.
Pay attention on the rocky sections for markers to guide you through – they may be painted on the rocks as well.
RED DOT trail continues making its way up.
1.3 – At the rocky summit of Mount Tammany, there is a view of Mt. Minsi across the Delaware River and broad views of the entire Delaware Water Gap area as well as Rt. 80 below.
Zoom into Rt. 80 below the RED DOT trail:
Turn right to scramble down the rocks as far as is comfortable, or stay at the top.
The first photo is from the top looking down the rocks and the second is looking up after scrambling down:
This is a good spot to watch hawks and turkey vultures ride the thermal air currents. And, of course, have a snack.
“Mt. Tammany Trail” and an arrow painted on a rock is for hikers coming up the other direction, on the BLUE trail:
RED DOT ends at the summit. Look for the BLUE markers that start just past the viewpoint to now follow BLUE.
/// Variation: Retrace RED DOT back – going downhill over the rocks is steep and can be tricky so most people take BLUE DOT back as it is more gradual. ///
View of a bridge over the Delaware River from the BLUE trail just beyond the summit. Easy to miss this depending on tree cover.
1.7 – Turn LEFT at the sign to continue following BLUE downhill on a very eroded woods road. [The Mt Tammany Fire Road (unmarked) continues straight.]
The BLUE trail is a rocky and eroded woods road.
2.2 – Continue following BLUE as it marks a sharp LEFT.
2.9 – Turn LEFT to start following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) which may also have BLUE blazes. [Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) also goes to the right.]
The creek, several cascades, and Dunnfield Falls comes into view. There is a wooden bench looking over the cascades.
Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) heads down towards the bridge and past the cascades.
Continue following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) over a bridge.
Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) ends at the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). Continue straight, now following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) along pretty Dunnfield Creek and back to the parking lot.
Hiked 6/9/19. Mt. Tammany, with A.
Hiked 8/22/15. Tammany, Fire Road, Sunfish, with M.
Hiked 10/23/10. Trail Blog: “Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond in the Fall“
Hiked 10/25/09. With Mt. Minsi – Mind The Gap.
Hiked 3/22/09. Trail Blog: “Water Gap: Mt. Tammany, Fire Road, Sunfish Pond, Dunnfield Creek“
Hiked 8/03/08. Trail Blog: “Water Gap – Mt. Tammany to Fire Road to Sunfish to Green“
Hiked 1/22/06. Trail Blog: “Delaware Water Gap – Mt. Tammany Summit and Beyond“
Hiked 10/1/00. with B., T., B.B., and Bela.