Short-but-steep loop to Sunfish Pond via the Garvey Springs trail and includes Laurel Falls.
4.6 or 2.8 miles. Steep climb; surface is very rocky, especially where the Appalachian Trail hugs Sunfish Pond.
- Shorter: 2.8 RT out-and-back on Garvey Springs and Buckwood to Sunfish Pond. Noted below.
- Longer: Lots of trail options in this area, such as adding in stretches of the Appalachian Trail.
- Longer, from this lot: Appalachian Trail – Sunfish Pond to Raccoon Ridge
- Nearby: Coppermines – Rattlesnake Swamp, Van Campens Glen, Sunfish Pond (from Dunnfield), Mt. Tammany.
Our two cents:
This solid hike packs Sunfish Pond, the Appalachian Trail, and a waterfall in under 5 miles… so what are you waiting for?
Garvey Springs is the fastest route to Sunfish Pond but you can do this loop in the opposite direction for a more gradual climb with a steeper return.
Laurel Falls is very close to the parking area, just up the Douglas Trail a bit, so it could be done first and then continue on this hike.
Updated: 5/2021 – Description changed to reflect that TURQUOISE is now called Buckwood (BLUE); not re-hiked.
Parking: 41.01317 -75.08217
Douglas lot; Old Mine Road. Rt. 80 W to the last exit in NJ (1) for Millbrook/Flatbrookville which bears right onto River Road/Old Mine Road.
Cross a one-lane bridge with a stop light and continue on Old Mine Rd for about 4 miles, passing a sign for Worthington and the driveway to the park office. The lot will be on the left and has a sign.
From the lot, walk back into the campground area to a bathroom building on the left. Rustic outhouses at the Douglas backpacker camp.
Overview: Garvey Springs (ORANGE) – Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – Buckwood (BLUE) out-and-back to a view of Sunfish Pond – Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – Douglas (BLUE on WHITE)
0.0 – From the parking area, cross Old Mine Road and veer left to start following Garvey Springs (ORANGE).
0.6 – Continue on Garvey Springs (ORANGE) as it turns left and follows Rock Cores (GREEN) for a bit
The trail turns right and continues steeply uphill.
1.3 – Garvey Springs (ORANGE) ends. Turn RIGHT and now follow Appalachian Trail (WHITE) briefly. [Appalachian Trail (WHITE) also goes left].
Turn LEFT and follow Buckwood (BLUE) up to a view over Sunfish Pond and a nice break spot.
// Alternate: Stay on Appalachian Trail (WHITE) to check out the pond instead; skipping Buckwood (BLUE). //
Retrace Buckwood (BLUE) back to the Appalachian Trail.
// Short – 2.8 round trip: Retrace the route from here: Buckwood (BLUE) – Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – Garvey Springs (ORANGE) //
Alternate/longer: The Appalachian Trail along Sunfish Pond has very rocky sections that are nearly scrambling (see photos). There is an alternate route using a Fire Road that has the same distance and a much easier trail surface. The trade-off is it’s duller and doesn’t hug the shore of Sunfish Pond so there are no views.
To do this, continue on Buckwood (BLUE) from the viewpoint over Sunfish Pond. Make a right onto Sunfish Fire Road and meet up with this description at the other end of Sunfish Pond, at 2.2 below. There, turn LEFT to continue on the Appalachian Trail (WHITE).
1.5 – From Buckwood (BLUE), turn LEFT to again follow the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). The trail is VERY rocky along Sunfish Pond.
Sometimes the trail is just picking a way over a jumble of rocks.
There are several open spots for views of the pond.
There may be evidence of beaver activity along the way.
In Spring, towards the other end of the pond, we’ve often spotted tadpoles in the shallow areas.
2.2 – Continue on Appalachian Trail (WHITE) passing a sign about Sunfish Pond and a stone marker.
2.9 – At the trail kiosk near the Douglas backpacker camp, start following Douglas (BLUE on WHITE). [Appalachian Trail (WHITE) veers off to the left]
The small sign for Douglas Trail has a right arrow that is slightly misleading; it points to a trail that toward the camp. There are views beyond the camp when there are no leaves on the trees.
The actual trail is the wide path and shortly there should be a blue trail marker.
Douglas (BLUE on WHITE) switchbacks steeply (but not as steep as Garvey) down a wide path with many dead trees.
4.0 – Veer RIGHT to continue on Douglas (BLUE on WHITE). [Rock Cores (GREEN) goes left and leads to another parking area near the park office]
4.2 – Veer LEFT to continue on Douglas (BLUE on WHITE). [Rock Cores (GREEN) goes right]
Nearly back, with the lot in sight, the unmarked path to Laurel Falls is at the trail sign. Turn RIGHT and follow this along the stream to the lower falls.
The lower Laurel Falls:
Close up of lower Laurel Falls:
Continue up the hill to see the upper falls.
There is a third smaller cascade after a steep climb – but this can be skipped as it’s not as as the first two and probably not worth the climb up.
Backtrack to Douglas and to the lot.
Hiked: 4/7/19. Trail Blog: “Laurel Falls and Sunfish Pond“