After an amazing experience climbing Mt. Tammany, we couldn’t wait to get back to the Worthington State Forest in NJ. This time, though, we came for some sectional hiking of the Appalachian Trail and to find the revered Sunfish Pond. Spanning 44 acres atop the Kittatinny Mountains, this glacial lake is an extremely popular destination that draws many hikers all the year round.
We arrived on a crisp fall day at the small parking lot right off Old Mine Rd, which diverges from I-80 at the Delaware Water Gap. From here, we had easy access to the 5-mile loop around Sunfish Pond. If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can start at the Dunnfield Creek Parking Lot and take the 9.5-mile loop on the Appalachian Trail. Either route provides an awesome hike through the beautiful forestry of Worthington State Forest.
The trail from Old Mine Rd. started with an easy walk through a grassy plot and then plunged directly into the dense woods. The entire area was blanketed in crunchy, fallen leaves and the tall, bare trees loomed ominously over us as we trekked along. The fresh air of the forest was immediately filled with the soothing sound of dry leaves being crushed beneath our feet and we had the perfect soundtrack for a calm Saturday hike.
This section of the Appalachian Trail proved to be just as rugged and handsome as the rest of its extent when it greeted us with a few steep and rocky patches that required some careful footwork and a good pair of hiking boots. We’ve seen so many people hiking in totally inappropriate gear (I’m talking flimsy sneakers and even flip-flops); that just won’t do on this trail. Bring a good pair of boots and a comfy pack to carry your water and snacks. You’re definitely going to want to refuel and rehydrate after hiking the AT.
The beauty of hiking is that just beyond the thick bush of trees you always stumble upon something surprising and beautiful. We were quietly strolling along the trail, unsure of how much longer it would take us to reach our destination, when the density of the forest suddenly cleared and we found ourselves at the pebbled shore of Sunfish Pond. The grandeur of this magnificent lake left us absolutely speechless and we could barely move as we stared out onto the sprawling body of water.
Sunfish Pond, a national natural landmark since 1970, truly is a glorious sight to behold and it merits a long moment of quiet, respectful admiration. The trail circling the lake is great for a slow, cool stroll as you marvel at the exquisite greens, browns, and oranges of the fall foliage that frames the rippling water.
Along the rocky shore of the lake, we found a few cairns that people had left behind to be knocked over and rebuilt again by future visitors. We were about to grab a few rocks and build our own CavemanUnbound monument when we stumbled upon the greatest piece of architecture at Sunfish Pond: a stone couch. Someone, who knows how long ago, managed to gather some of the biggest boulders on the beach and construct a surprisingly comfortable couch facing the lake.
We chilled on that couch for almost an hour, totally relaxed and absorbed in the splendor of Sunfish Pond. The perfection of the day was found in how comfortable it was to be absolutely silent for a while. The scenery did all the talking and entertaining while we just sat back and quietly enjoyed the view and the sounds of nature. We tossed around a few sentences and discussed upcoming adventures and the future of CavemanUnbound, but most of the time was spent it a meditative silence that can only happen in the deep woods. While the dangerous hike are always fun, we strongly believe that men also need escapades that are all about unwinding and being alone with your thoughts. Sunfish Pond is the perfect destination for such an adventure and we recommend this hike to anyone looking for a quick, easy escape into the serenity of nature.