Overview: A great hike with ridgeline views, cascades, and a glacial lake. The trail is sometimes wet and you’ll need your hands to navigate scrambles in a few parts.
Hike length: 5.5 miles out and back along the Terrace Pond North trail to Terrace Pond. Add an extra mile or so if you do the Terrace Pond Circular.
Elevation gain: 700 feet
Location: Wawayanda State Park, West Milford, NJ
Parking: A parking area off the shoulder of Warwick Turnpike is available. Cross the street to reach the trailhead.
- NY-NJ Trail Conference – Wawayanda State Park – East & Abram S. Hewitt State Forest 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.)
- NY-NJ Trail Conference North Jersey Trails map 115
Starting at the parking pullout, cross the street and look for the blue-blazed Terrace Pond North trailhead entrance. Note the sign warning to give Timber Rattlesnakes and Northern Copperheads distance and respect.
Follow the blue blazes uphill. Within a half mile you’ll reach the first of several nice views to the east.
Continue following the blue blazes. Watch your footing. Much of the trail is wet and is traversed by streams with small cascades.
You’ll eventually cross a cut for a gas pipeline which you’ll follow for a while. At least compared to overhead power line cuts, it’s not that bad.
There are plenty of blazes and cairns along the way to guide you. Reenter the woods and continue to follow the blue blazes.
The trail requires the use of hands to navigate several scrambles. It’s not ideal for small children.
You’ll pass a few more nice overlooks and then eventually reach a junction with the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular trail.
Here, you have a decision to make. The Terrace Pond Circular is a white-blazed trail that goes around Terrace Pond. You can follow the trail either way, but if you turn right, very soon you will come to an area that is seasonally flooded - the trail crosses outlet from Terrace Pond. When I did this hike in mid-December, the stones and logs to cross it were submerged. Even with waterproof boots, my feet got soaked. The water level may have been higher than usual from snowmelt and rain the day before.
If you intend to do the loop, I suggest you go to the right first to make sure you’re able and willing to cross this area. I went left and learned this the hard. Otherwise, you will reach it at the end of the loop and either have to get wet, which I chose to do, or backtrack the entire loop.
Even if you don’t want to do the loop, don’t turn around yet! Go left at the junction and go several hundred feet until you reach the open, panoramic view of Terrace Pond (note the no swimming sign – this is a popular swimming spot, but it’s prohibited and there have been drownings here).
This is a good spot to stop for a break and a snack. Now you could turn around and retrace your steps back to the car, or if you’ve committed to doing the loop around Terrace Pond, face away from the lake and look towards the back and slightly to the left for the white blazes which climb upwards.
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.
Continue to follow the white blazes and eventually you will find yourself on the west side of the lake, with even more impressive panoramic views.
If you’re going clockwise, you will see a junction with the blue trail. You’ll want to stay to the right here and follow the trail where the blue and white overlap.
You’ll then reach the outlet from Terrace Pond and either cross this sometimes very wet area or turn around, circle back around the lake, and retrace your steps. Once you reach the junction with blue trail again, follow the blue blazes all the way back to your car.
Dogs: Scrambles may be tough for smaller dogs. Some sharp rocks, but otherwise, keep on leash.
Kids: The trail has several sections where you’ll need your hands and in some cases your upper body to get over scrambles. It’s probably not appropriate for very young kids.