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Sunfish Pond Hike – Worthington State Park, Columbia, Warren County, NJ: Douglas Trail – Appalachian Trail – Kaiser Trail

Distance: 10 miles or so
Type: Loop of three trails and a road.
Difficulty – 9 of 10… you have a tough 1,200 foot climb.

Terrain – mountains

Trailheads: Campground at Worthington State Forest –  41° 0.770’N,  75° 4.943’W

Trailhead

Trailhead

Isn't this hike fun already?

Isn’t this hike fun already?

Markings – Douglas Trail (blue blazes), Appalachian Trail (white blazes), Kaiser Trail (blue blazes).

Description: The is one of my favorite hikes ever. I first climbed up to Sunfish Pond when I was 12 or so, and I remember being amazed that there is a lake at the top of a mountain!

Delaware River at the bottom of the mountain, next to the parking lot.

Delaware River at the bottom of the mountain, next to the parking lot.

You start your climb at the parking lot at the end of the campground at Worthington State Forest, next to the Old Mine Road. There’s a water fall just off the trail here.

sunfish04

Isn't this hike fun already?

Isn’t this hike fun already?

Climb up, up, up, up, well over 1,000 feet. Make sure to stay on the Douglas Trail where the Rock Cores Trail splits to the left. This is about as tough as climbs come in New Jersey, be prepared and take your time!

Park ranger hard at work cleaning the Rockcores Trail.

Park ranger hard at work cleaning the Rockcores Trail.

Stick with the blue blazes on the way up, and watch out for this crazy tree.

Stick with the blue blazes on the way up, and watch out for this crazy tree.




At the top, the Douglas Trail will intersect the Appalachian Trail (or AT) at the Backpacker Campground. The Backpacker camp may look suspiciously like a bunch of high grass covering over rocks to hike them, which is probably because it is.

Backpacker campsite (an early morning start for Jeremy)

Backpacker campsite (an early morning start for Jeremy)

Deer at the intersection of the Douglas Trail and AT.

Deer at the intersection of the Douglas Trail and AT.

You’ll turn left here and head for Sunfish Pond, which is a short distance up the trail (3/4 of a mile or so).

AT between the intersection and Sunfish Pond.

AT between the intersection and Sunfish Pond.

Hey, you made it!

sunfish09

You could spend hours up here (I have), mosey for a while. Keep an eye out for deer and water snakes, as well as gliders overhead.  There are great spots to hang out and have breakfast/lunch/dinner/a snack (I’ve done three of the four) and enjoy the views.

First glimpse of the pond.

First glimpse of the pond.

AT winds along the side of the pond.

AT winds along the side of the pond.

Jeremy takes a break.

Jeremy takes a break.



Good spot to hang out.

Good spot to hang out.

Water snake.

Water snake.

Water snake says hi.

Water snake says hi.

Interesting plants.

Interesting plants.

I was here.

I was here.

Far side of pond.

Far side of pond.

Art.

Art.

Eventually, you’ll move away from the pond and continue down the AT.

Bye lake!

Bye lake!

You’ll continue down the trail for another 1 1/2 to 2 miles.  You’ll pass under an okay view with some power lines, but just after that, you’ll hit a truly amazing 360 degree view, marked by a big pile of rocks. Enjoy the scenery in all directions.



Big pile of rocks = you made it!

Big pile of rocks = you made it!

I like looking thoughtful.

I like looking thoughtful.

Hanging out in case someone doesn't make it...

Hanging out in case someone doesn’t make it…

Pretty nice view, eh? This picture doesn't do it justice.

Pretty nice view, eh? This picture doesn’t do it justice.

After the view, keep a sharp lookout for the blue-blazed Kaiser Trail on your left.  This is the trail you will take down the mountain.

One more view before we head down.

One more view before we head down.

They have a sign and everything.

They have a sign and everything.

The Kaiser Trail is easy, just head down.

Looks like a road. Was it a road?

Looks like a road. Was it a road?



At the bottom of the mountain, you’ll hit the Old Mine Road. Turn left and finish out your route with a road walk.

Even the views from Old Mine Road are pretty nice.

Even the views from Old Mine Road are pretty nice.

Heading down Old Mine Road.

Heading down Old Mine Road.

Roadkill.

Roadkill.

This can be done as a day hike, or take your backpack up and make it a weekend – climb to the campground Friday night, hike down the trail Saturday, then backtrack to the same camp, and head out Sunday morning. There are also option to cut this hike down to only five miles while still taking in the pond.

Camping on the mountain is fun. You might see deer...

Camping on the mountain is fun. You might see deer…

... or a beautiful sunset from the backpacker camp.

… or a beautiful sunset from the backpacker camp.

Check out nearby: Visitor’s Center at the Delaware Water Gap, Mt Minsi Hike, Friday the 13th Film Locations, Hot Dog Johnny’s, and more!

View of "the gap" from next to the DWG National Recreation Area Visitor's Center on the Jersey side of the bridge.View of “the gap” from next to the DWG National Recreation Area Visitor’s Center on the Jersey side of the bridge.

Or get a hot dog. While a kid yells loudly. Thanks Ben.

 

Or get a hot dog. While a kid yells loudly. Thanks kid.

The Good

Tough 1,200 foot climb, pond on the top of a mountain, amazing 360 degree views. Oh, and BEARS!

The Could Be Better

Tough 1,200 foot climb

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9.0
Bottom Line

While not in South Jersey, this is one of my favorite hikes of all time. I can’t recommend it more highly than that.

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