Sunfish Pond

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Sunfish Pond

Hike through some of the prettiest forest in New Jersey to a glacial lake 1,000 feet above the surrounding area.

7.8 miles. Other routes listed in the chart below. Very rocky, multiple rock-hop stream crossings that can be tricky to negotiate after heavy rain.

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:

ROUTE MILES
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, Buckwood (BLUE) – Appalachian Trail (WHITE) 9.5
Red Dot – Mt. Tammany Summit – Fire Road – Buckwood (BLUE) – 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, Buckwood (BLUE) – 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.]

Updated: 5/2021 – Description changed to reflect that TURQUOISE is now called Buckwood (BLUE); not re-hiked. 9/2020 – Re-hiked, description adjustments, photos added. 7/2020 – Page refreshed, not re-hiked. 8/2016 – Added GPX file for the Dunnfield – AT route.

Map:

Map# 121 of the Kittatinny Trails map set.

Books:

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.

Details on all the trails in the area can be found in Kittatinny Trails and 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.


NOTE: The video is for the longer Mt. Tammany to Sunfish Route; so it also shows Mt. Tammany, the Fire Road, Buckwood (BLUE)to Sunfish Pond, with Dunnfield Creek as the return trail.

Hike Directions:

Overview: Appalachian Trail (WHITE) – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) to Sunfish Pond – Appalachian Trail (WHITE).

0.0 – At the far end of the main lot, look for a trail sign for the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). Cross the bridge over Dunnfield Creek.

Appalachian Trail sign covered in stickers

0.4 – A large trail sign is at a V-intersection. Bear RIGHT to start following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN).

[The Appalachian Trail bears left and also leads to Sunfish Pond – and is the return route.]

Worthington Forest and Dunnfield Creek trail signs

Cross Dunnfield Creek on a large wooden bridge.

Long wooden footbridge over Dunnfield Creek
Rocky stream surrounded by trees

Dunnfield Falls and a few nice water cascades are nearby. A wider view of the falls area during lower water flow, and the falls with more flow:

Water cascading over rocks
Dunnfield Falls

/// Shorter 1.2 mile hike: Turn around here and retrace the route. ///

0.7 – Continue following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN). Pass the start of the BLUE DOT trail on the right.

1.0 – Continue following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) where it veers right up a series of stone steps.

Large stone steps on a trail surrounded by green trees

1.8 – 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 where to cross Dunnfield Creek multiple times.

Stream crossing with rocks

Just a few of the crossings are shown here. They may appear different depending on water level and the amount of rocks or logs. Crossing at high water may be tricky.

3.3 – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) starts to turn away from the creek.

Dunnfield Creek Trail

3.7 – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) starts heading uphill, a little steeply and over some rock slabs, then heads downhill as it nears the pond.

Rocky trail heading uphill with blue sky visible

4.0 – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) meets up with the Sunfish Fire Road.

Veer LEFT to continue on Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) where it ends at the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) in an area with a plaque and sign.

Sunfish Pond Natural Landmark sign
Sunfish Pond Natural Area trail sign

Turn RIGHT towards Sunfish Pond where there is small open area with a view of the pond and a wooden bench.

Panorama of Sunfish Pond

If this is crowded (good possibility) try heading around the left/north side of the pond a bit on the very rocky Appalachian Trail (WHITE) to find a spot.

The Sunfish Fire Road around the right/south side veers away from the pond so it doesn’t offer any break spots at the water’s edge unless you go up to Buckwood (BLUE).

**See below for an optional add-on loop from this point that uses Buckwood (BLUE) to go around Sunfish Pond.**

When ready to head back from Sunfish Pond head south on the Appalachian Trail (WHITE), away from the pond.

4.7 – Continue following Appalachian Trail (WHITE) as it veers left past Douglas (BLUE) near a trail kiosk. [An outhouse may be available at the backpacker campsite.]

The Appalachian Trail is very rocky and for one brief point becomes a sheer rock face.

Very rocky Appalachian Trail
Long flat rock section of trail

6.3 – Continue following Appalachian Trail (WHITE). [Holly Springs (RED) and Beulahland (YELLOW) cross the trail].

Wide trail surrounded by trees

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 on the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) back to the parking lot.

Appalachian Trail; nearing the parking lot

**Optional add-on loop**

Sunfish Fire Road/Buckwood (BLUE)/Appalachian Trail: Adding a loop around the pond will make the hike 9.5 miles total.

Return back to the Sunfish Fire Road that was passed on Dunnfield Creek (Green) just before the pond.

Follow the Sunfish Fire Road north for about .6 miles until Buckwood (BLUE) starts on the left (there is a small pile of rocks).

Sunfish Pond from Buckwood (BLUE):

Sunfish Pond from Turquoise Trail at end of the pond
Sunfish Pond

Follow Buckwood (BLUE) to the edge of Sunfish Pond, where there are large rock slabs to sit on and enjoy views over the pond.

Continue on Buckwood (BLUE) around the pond until it meets the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). Turn LEFT to now follow the Appalachian Trail and meet-up with the main directions above.

View of Sunfish Pond from the Turquoise trail


Hiked: 8/31/20. Dunnfield + AT loop.
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 log entry only Gap – Sunfish Pond.