Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond

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Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond

Challenging hike to the summit of Mt. Tammany and then to Sunfish Pond in the Delaware Water Gap.

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. Return is via the scenic Dunnfield Creek Trail.

10.7 miles; challenging. The hike up Mt. Tammany is short but steep (1250 feet in 1.3 miles, and a little minor scrambling involved).

  • Longer, about 11.5: Continue on Buckwood (BLUE) to go around the pond, turn left onto the Appalachian Trail to the south end of the pond and pick up Dunnfield from there.
  • Option: Return via Appalachian Trail instead of Dunnfield Creek. The AT is slightly shorter and w/o the creek hops, but less scenic and rockier in our opinion (and busier).
  • Variation: Up Tammany via RED DOT, down BLUE DOT, Dunnfield to Sunfish Pond, return via AT. We have not done this combo and don’t have mileage.
  • Nearby: Appalachian Trail – Sunfish Pond to Raccoon RidgeSunfish Pond – Garvey Springs and Douglas LoopMt. Minsi.

Our two cents:

This is a long/challenging hike. Unless you are an avid hiker and up for it, stick to doing these destinations on their own, see Mt. Tammany or Sunfish Pond.

The Gap is one of the most beautiful areas to hike in NJ and is especially stunning in Fall.  This hike can make for a long day; make sure you are up for it as once you are down the fire road a bit, there isn’t a shorter bailout.

The trail surface is rocky up Tammany, and not as much along the ridge.

The fire road is not as popular/crowded as the areas around Mt. Tammany or Sunfish Pond and has a very remote feeling to it. However, because there are no views along the ridge and sometimes it’s a bit overgrown it can feel like a bit of a slog.

In late July to August, the wild blueberries along the fire road ripen. The return via Dunnfield requires multiple stream crossings which can be a tad tricky after a lot of rain.

Updated: 5/2021 – Description changed to reflect that TURQUOISE is now called Buckwood (BLUE); not re-hiked. 8/2020 – Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 9/2015: Revised description and GPX.


Fun Fact:

The mountain in the photo is actually Mt. Minsi in Pennsylvania – as that is the view from the summit of Mt. Tammany.


Map:

Get the Kittatinny Trails map set – when romping around the woods for 10+ miles, have a good map!!

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.


Books:

Similar route and map diagram can be found in Hiking New Jersey. The trails in this area are described in Kittatinny Trails and the The New Jersey Walk Book.


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.

If either of 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.

Overview of the parking lots as it’s just easier to show it than explain it:

Parking lot overview as seen from Mt. Minsi.

Parking can fill EARLY on weekends. Lot updates: Worthington State Forest / Delaware Water Gap NPS.

If those three lots are full then try a nearby hike listed above, or use the Hiker Shuttle if running.

* Seasonal FREE HIKER SHUTTLE * Runs weekends and holidays in season between the Dunnfield Creek lot, Kittatinny Visitors Center, and the Park and Ride in PA. Check www.gomcta.com for schedules and routes.

!!! DO NOT PARK ON ROADSIDES, INCLUDING Rt. 80 !!!


Restrooms:

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.


Hike Directions:

OVERVIEW: RED DOT to Mt. Tammany summit – BLUE DOT – MT. Tammany Fire Rd. – Buckwood (BLUE) /Sunfish Pond Fire Rd to Sunfish Pond – backtrack on Buckwood (BLUE) to Sunfish Pond Fire Rd – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) from the southern end of Sunfish Pond – Appalachian Trail (WHITE)

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.

0.0 – Start heading uphill following RED DOT on a rocky trail.

Red Dot trail is very rocky

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.

View of the Delaware Water Gap

Continue following RED DOT as it levels off a bit before heading up a very rocky section. 

Trail covered in a large flat section of rock
Hikers negotiate a rocky section of RED DOT

Pay attention on the rocky sections for markers to guide you through – they may be painted on the rocks as well.

Rocky trail with painted trail markers
Rocky section of the Red Dot trail on the way up.

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.

Panoramic view from the summit of Mount Tammany
View of Mt. Minsi from the top of Mt. Tammany.

Scramble down the rocks for a unique break spot or stay at the top. This is a good spot to watch hawks and turkey vultures ride the thermal air currents.

RED DOT ends at the summit. Look for the BLUE markers that start just past the viewpoint to now follow BLUE.

Three blue blazes on a tree

1.7 – Start following the unmarked Mt. Tammany Fire Road, straight. [BLUE DOT leaves to the left].

3.3 – Pass a HELIPORT sign on the left.

Fire road

4.7 – Turn LEFT to start following Buckwood (BLUE). [Mt. Tammany Fire Road continues straight]

The trailhead may be hard to spot but there should be a cairn (little rock pile).

Buckwood (BLUE) is narrow with vegetation and heads downhill to cross Dunnfield Creek, before going back uphill.

5.4 – Buckwood (BLUE) meets up with the Sunfish Fire Road. Turn LEFT and now follow the unmarked fire road.

Sunfish Fire Road is briefly co-joined with Buckwood (BLUE), but markings may be sparse.

5.7 – Turn RIGHT to now follow Buckwood (BLUE) as it leaves the Fire Road and heads toward Sunfish Pond.

Sunfish Pond from Turquoise Trail

5.9 – Arrive at Sunfish Pond. There are rock slabs to sit on with a view of the Pond. Backtrack on Buckwood (BLUE) to the Fire Road when ready to leave.

// Option: Continue around the pond on Buckwood (BLUE), turning LEFT onto the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) which follows the western shore of the Pond. At the southern end of the Pond, meet up with these directions at 6.7 below. //

6.2 – Back at the Sunfish Fire Road, turn RIGHT onto the fire road.

6.7 – Southern end of Sunfish Pond. There is a bench tucked in by the water and another nice view from this end of the Pond.

Sunfish Pond from the southern end, near Dunnfield Creek trail

With your back to the pond, look LEFT to start following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN).

// Option: Follow the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) back instead. //

Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) heads uphill and then down a steep rocky section. After a low, seasonally wet section, the creek will eventually come into view, and the trail follows it the rest of the way back.

Return via Dunnfield Creek trail

Keep an eye out for the GREEN markers which can be sometimes hard to spot. They will also indicate to cross Dunnfield Creek several times on rocks.

8.9 – Pass the Holly Springs Trail on the right.

10.0 – Pass the BLUE DOT trail on the LEFT.

The creek, several cascades, and Dunnfield Falls comes into view. There is a wooden bench looking over the cascades.

View of Dunnfield Creek through trees
Small waterfall dropping into a shallow pool along Dunnfield Creek

Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) heads down towards the bridge and past the cascades.

Dunnfield Falls

Continue following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) over a bridge.

Bridge over Dunnfield Creek

10.3 – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) ends at the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). There is a large signpost.

Continue straight, now following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) along pretty Dunnfield Creek and back to the parking lot.

Appalachian Trail next to Dunnfield Creek
Dunnfield Creek


Hiked: 8/22/15. with M.
Hiked: 10/23/10. Trail Blog: “Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond in the Fall
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.