Terrace Pond Circular and Floating Walkway Overview
This is the shortest trail to hike to Terrace Pond, a beautiful glacial lake in Wawayanda State Park. A highlight of this hike, which circles the lake, is a floating walkway constructed to make it easier to cross the outlet of the lake. While in the past crossing this area was a challenge, the trail is now much more accessible to more people, including children. The trail may require your hands to navigate scrambles in a few parts.
(Note: In 2020, the NY-NJ Trail Conference updated the trail blaze colors throughout the Terrace Pond area and added some new trail sections to create simplified single-color loop hikes, in addition to building a floating walkway and ladder at the lake’s outlet.)
Hike length: 3.6 miles lollipop trail (the north part of Terrace Pond West plus Terrace Pond Circular).
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Location: Wawayanda State Park, West Milford, NJ
Terrace Pond as a Hiker Destination
Terrace Pond has long been a destination for hikers. According to the 1923 New York Walk Book – “Terrace Pond (1380 feet) is, in some respects, the top notch of objectives for walks in New Jersey,” noting that “in the whole of the state only one pond, Lake Marcia (1570 feet), in the Kittatinny Range, is go greater altitude.” Terrace Pond “lies by itself in a wild plateau, far from habitations, surrounded by cliffs, rhododendron, swamps, scrub oak thickets, and rattlers.”
A popular swimming spot for decades, early versions of the New York Walk Book promoted diving from the cliffs surrounding the lake. Today, swimming is prohibited and rangers will issue a summons to violators.
Terrace Pond Circular Parking
Park at the P7 parking lot along Clinton Road (Google Maps link). The parking lot is across the street from the trailhead.
Kids: Kids can do it, but the trail has some steep sections where you’ll need your hands and upper body to navigate, including a ladder.
Terrace Pond Circular Trail Maps
- Northern New Jersey Highlands Trails Map 152 – NY-NJ Trail Conference Map (print)
- Northern New Jersey Highlands Map – NY-NJ Trail Conference (Avenza)
- NY-NJ Trail Conference – Wawayanda State Park – Terrace Pond Trail Changes Map
- NJ Parks & Forests Abram S. Hewitt State Forest map (note: even though the trail is within Wawayanda State Park, it appears in the map of Abram S. Hewitt State Forest and not in the official NJ Parks & Forest map for Wawayanda State Park.)
NOTE: The following map is outdated and as of Fall 2020 do not reflect the trail changes made in 2020. Use these maps with caution:
Terrace Pond Circular Trail Description
From the parking lot, look across Clinton Road to spot the three yellow blazes marking the trailhead for the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West Trail.
Cross the street. Right in front of you is a kiosk with information on the trail, Leave No Trace principles, and more.
Begin uphill into the woods and soon notice a homemade anti-littering sign.
It’s a beautiful trail, crossing several wet areas on stepping stones.
After 0.65 miles, you’ll reach a gate.
Walk past the gate and shortly you’ll reach a pipeline cut. The trail turns right and climbs uphill along the cut, with views to the west.
After 0.1 miles, the trail makes a sharp right turn to leave the pipeline cut and reenter the woods. The trail climbs over some rocks which might require the use of your hands.
Just beyond, about 0.1 miles from the pipeline cut, you’ll reach the first viewpoint just off the trail to the right. A small map marked on the blaze indicates the location of the viewpoint.
The trail continues to climb, crosses a ridge, then descends before climbing again.
At 0.35 miles from the last viewpoint, you’ll reach another more expansive viewpoint on a rock outcrop with panoramic west-facing views. From here, you might be able to see the Kittatinny, Catskill, and Shawangunk Mountains.
From here, the trail crosses more wet areas on rocks.
After 0.2 miles from the viewpoint, you’ll reach the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular trail, marked by three white blazes on the rock on the ground.
Follow the white blazes around the north end of the lake. You’ll soon reach one of the highlights of the trail – a floating walkway. In the past, crossing “The Outlet” of Terrace Pond required balancing on nearly submerged logs and deep mud. It was almost impossible to cross without getting your shoes wet – best case scenario – or having them get stuck in the mud.
Before: “The Outlet” of Terrace Pond
Now, thanks to the NY-NJ Trail Conference, there is a wonderful floating walkway across The Outlet.
Watch a video on the Floating Walkway trail project featuring the people who made it happen.
From the middle of the walkway, you get another nice view of the lake.
After crossing the walkway, climb the ladder – also helpfully installed in 2020 – to make your way up the steep rock. These two additions make the trail much more accessible to a wider audience, including children.
The trail now goes through an area cleared of trees. This was done during construction of the floating walkway in order to create a site to allow helicopters to drop the sections of the floating walkway. The clearing will also serve as a landing site for helicopter evacuations and for firefighters.
The trail now climbs and then reaches the junction with the blue-blazed Terrace Pond North Loop trail.
Make a right here and follow the white and blue co-blazed trail for 0.1 miles to reach a clearing atop a cliff along the eastern side of Terrace Pond, with panoramic views (note the no swimming sign – this is a popular swimming spot, but it’s prohibited and there have been drownings here). This is a great spot to take a break and enjoy a snack.
From here, head away from the lake (east) and look for and follow the blazes along the stone staircase leading uphill.
The trail follows some exposed ridges and then dips into a wet, wooded area. Much of this trail is also wet.
Along the way, you’ll see a nice example of a glacial erratic (a large, seemingly out of place boulder deposited there by retreating glaciers) sitting atop bedrock gouged with glacial grooves.
After 0.3 miles, you’ll reach a junction where the blue trail splits off downhill and to the east, but we’ll continue to follow the white blazes. The trail eventually reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West Loop trail (this is not the way we came, and we will continue to follow the white blazes here).
The trail now passes a rocky, mossy area.
Just beyond, you’ll reach a clearing on the west side of Terrace Pond – another great spot to take a break and enjoy the view.
Continue north and in about a tenth of a mile you’ll pass on your right another viewpoint of Terrace Pond.
Just beyond this viewpoint you’ll reach the end of the Terrace Pond Circular loop and the junction with the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West Loop Trail. This is the trail you took on your way to Terrace Pond. Turn left to follow the yellow blazes back to the trailhead, where your car is parked across the street (careful crossing!).