Overview: A great hike to glacial lake Terrace Pond with ridgeline views, a swamp, floating walkway, and small cascades. The trail is sometimes wet and you’ll need 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 at The Outlet of Terrace Pond. This guide has been updated, but note that some of the photos below may feature outdated blaze colors.)
Hike length: 7.5 miles lollipop trail (Terrace Pond North Loop plus most of Terrace Pond Circular).
Elevation gain: 950 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.
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.
Dogs: Scrambles may be tough for smaller dogs. Some sharp rocks, but otherwise, keep on leash.
NOTE: The following maps are outdated and as of Fall 2020 do not reflect the trail changes made in 2020. Use these maps with caution:
- 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. While the sign shows a blue blaze, this section of the trail was reblazed in 2020 to have blue blazes with black dots in the middle. Also, note the sign warning to give Timber Rattlesnakes and Northern Copperheads distance and respect.
Follow the black dot-on-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. Especially after rain, much of the trail is wet and is traversed by streams with small cascades.
You’ll reach the end of the black-on-blue trail and the start and end of the blue-blazed Terrace Pond North Loop. At this point, you can follow the blue blazes in either direction. We will head left.
In a few hundred feet, you’ll reach a gas line cut.
You’ll reenter the woods, and a short distance later you’ll see a small sign on the left to indicate a scenic viewpoint.
The trail continues with some partial views along the way and then it will break off to the right as an unmaintained trail continues straight. The trail climbs and then passes a lovely swamp.
Soon, you’ll reach a junction and the trail will be co-aligned with the Terrace Pond Red trail.
You’ll reach a junction where the blue and yellow-blazed Terrace Pond Connector Trail ends. Make a right to continue along the blue-blazed Terrace Pond North Loop.
You’ll follow a woods road which turns into single track. The trail reached a junction with the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular at an exposed ridge.
Here you have a choice.
1. If you just want to do the Terrace Pond North Loop, turn right. You will pass the east side of Terrace Pond, including an open, panoramic viewpoint of Terrace Pond (note the no swimming sign – this is a popular swimming spot, but it’s prohibited and there have been drownings here).
2. For a little longer hike with views of Terrace Pond from the other side and fun crossing of a floating walkway, turn left to follow the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular around the west side of the lake. That’s what we’ll do in these directions.
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.
It will soon connect and be co-aligned with the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West loop.
Shortly after the two trails become co-aligned, you’ll reach an open area with panoramic views of Terrace Pond. This is a great spot to break for a snack or lunch and enjoy the view.
A little further along the trail is another clearing offering a great view of the lake.
Shortly after this viewpoint, the yellow and white trails split. Stay right to follow the white blazes around the north end of Terrace Pond. 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.
Now, thanks to the NY-NJ Trail Conference, there is a wonderful floating walkway across The Outlet.
From the middle of the walkway, you get another nice view of the lake.
After crossing the walkway, you’ll climb a recently-installed ladder to get over a pretty steep rock ledge.
Next, you’ll reach a junction with the blue Terrace Pond North Loop trail. Make a left to take the loop back. (or if you chose to make a right at the prior junction with the white trail, you’ll continue straight at this junction to continue along the blue trail).
Continue to follow the blue blazes. You’ll pass some viewpoints along the way.
You’ll exit the woods where you see a sign pointing left towards Clinton Road. We’ll turn right to follow the gas line cut for a while.
Eventually the trail turns left back into the woods, and you’re rewarded with another great viewpoint.
Continue to follow the blue blazes. You’ll again reach the junction where the loop ends and you’ll retrace your steps along the black-on-blue blazed trail.
Along the way, you’ll pass some additional viewpoints and wet areas with small cascades.