Hike through some of the prettiest forest in New Jersey to a glacial lake 1,000 feet above the surrounding area.
7.9 miles. Other routes listed in the chart below. Very rocky, with rock-hop stream crossings that can be tricky to negotiate after heavy rain.
- Shorter options: There are shorter but steeper routes to Sunfish Pond off of Old Mine Road via Garvey Springs trail or Douglas to the Appalachian Trail. See Sunfish Pond to Raccoon Ridge for info.
- Super short: For a beautiful hike that is just under 1.5 miles roundtrip (but does not get to Sunfish)… follow the directions below and turnaround where noted. The Appalachian Trail follows the creek in an absolutely gorgeous area and you end up at a nice water cascade.
- Challenging: Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond.
- Another hike from this lot: Mt Tammany.
Our two cents:
Sunfish Pond is a popular destination, but rightly so. For newer hikers, this is hike is manageable, but…
It’s also not a “walk in the park” and 7.6+ miles may be longer than you realize or can comfortably do.
While on our way back, we’ve passed many weary hikers asking “how much farther to the pond?”
Please bring water, have appropriate footwear, and honestly assess your fitness level. This is not a good choice for your first hike.
The Gap is notorious for rocks and will give feet and joints a good pounding. It can be hiked in sneakers… but we wouldn’t recommend it. The Appalachian Trail is rockier than the Dunnfield Creek Trail, in our opinion.
There are several ways to Sunfish Pond, these are the routes from the Rt 80 Dunnfield lot:
|Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – Sunfish Pond – Appalachian Trail (WHITE)||7.6|
|Appalachian Trail (WHITE) .5 miles – Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN) – Sunfish Pond – Appalachian Trail (WHITE) [directions below]||7.9|
|Appalachian Trail (WHITE) .5 miles – Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN) – Sunfish Pond – Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN)||8.2|
|Appalachian Trail (WHITE) .5 miles – Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN) – Sunfish Pond – Around the pond: Fire Road, Turquoise Trail – Appalachian Trail (WHITE)||9.5|
|Red Dot – Mt. Tammany Summit – Fire Road – Turquoise Trail – Sunfish Pond – Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN) – [Challenging] [Directions: Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond]||11.3|
|Appalachian Trail (WHITE) .5 miles – Dunnfield Creek Trail (GREEN) – Sunfish Pond – Around the pond: Fire Road, Turquoise Trail – Appalachian Trail North (WHITE) to park boundary sign – turnaround and take AT back to the lot [Challenging]||13.2|
[Mileages are from our GPS data; your results may vary slightly.]
Update 8/2016 – Added GPX file for the Dunnfield – AT route.
Map# 121 of the Kittatinny Trails map set.
The longer Mt. Tammany to Sunfish route description and map diagram can be found in Hiking New Jersey.
For a long backpack route on the Appalachian Trail that includes Sunfish Pond, see the description and map diagrams in 50 Hikes in New Jersey.
Parking: N40 58.291 W75 07.531
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 in the center and if that is full, you can park
on the grass next to that* at the visitor center.
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.
HIKER SHUTTLE to the Dunnfield Creek lot and Kittatinny Visitors Center runs weekends and holidays from Saturday, May 26, 2018 until Labor Day. Every half hour between 10 AM and 5:30 PM, departing from the Park and Ride in PA. Cost is $1 per person. Lots often are full by 10am, this is to alleviate parking issues. Info: www.gomcta.com.
Porta-john in the far side of the lot (as of June 2015). 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 portable toilets there.
NOTE: The video is for the longer Mt. Tammany to Sunfish Route; so it also shows Mt. Tammany, the Fire Road, Turquoise Trail to Sunfish Pond, with Dunnfield Creek as the return trail.
These directions are for the Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) to Sunfish Pond with return via the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) route.
0.0 – At the far end of the main lot, look for a trail sign and a bridge over Dunnfield Creek.
Cross the bridge, and follow Appalachian Trail (WHITE).
0.5 – A large trail sign is at a V-intersection. Bear RIGHT to start following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN).
(The Appalachian Trail bears left here, and also leads to Sunfish Pond – and is the return route)
Cross a bridge. There are some nice water cascades here.
1.9 – Pass Holly Springs trail on the left.
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.
3.3 – The trail starts to turn away from the creek. Cross through an area that can be quite wet.
3.7 – The trail starts heading uphill, a little steeply and over some rock slabs, as it nears the pond.
4.1 – The Dunnfield Creek Trail comes to an open area with a plaque. Walk towards Sunfish Pond (north/right) to find a place to take a break.
Optional add-on: Walk around the pond a bit: The west side of the pond is quite rocky, or there is a fire road around the east side of the pond (or combine to make a loop).
The fire road veers away from the pond so it doesn’t offer any break spots at the water’s edge unless you go up to the Turquoise Trail. To do so would add about 1.6 miles to your route.
To go to the Turquoise Trail: Find the fire road on the east side of the pond (it’s an unmarked woods road).
Follow the road north for about .6 miles until the Turquoise Trail starts on the left (there is a small pile of rocks).
Follow Turquoise to the edge of Sunfish Pond, where there are large rock slabs to sit on. When done, retrace your route back on Turquoise and the Fire Road to the southern end of Sunfish.
When ready to head back from Sunfish Pond head south on the Appalachian Trail (WHITE), away from the pond.
6.4 – Continue following Appalachian Trail (WHITE). [Holly Springs (RED) and Beulahland (YELLOW) cross the trail].
7.4 – Continue following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) as it passes the start of Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) on the left.
Retrace the route from earlier, back to the parking lot.
Hiked: 6/7/15. Dunnfield + AT loop.
Hiked: 5/9/11. Trail Blog: “Dunnfield Creek – Sunfish Pond – AT”
Hiked: 8/31/08. Trail Blog: “Gap – Garvey Springs to AT North – out and back”
Hiked: 5/11/08. Dunnfield + AT loop.
Hiked: 5/12/07. Trail Blog: “Gap – Sunfish and Beyond“.
Hiked: 9/3/06. Trail Blog: “Garvey Springs to Sunfish then out-and-back north on AT“.
Hiked 6/11/06. No GPX Trail entry only.