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.
Total score – 9 of 10.
Terrain – mountains
Trailheads: Campground at Worthington State Forest – 41° 0.770’N, 75° 4.943’W
Standouts – Tough 1,200 foot climb, pond on the top of a mountain, amazing 360 degree views.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
Hey, you made it!
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.
Eventually, you’ll move away from the pond and continue down the AT.
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.
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.
The Kaiser Trail is easy, just head down.
At the bottom of the mountain, you’ll hit the Old Mine Road. Turn left and finish out your route with a road walk.
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.
Overall recommendation: While not in South Jersey, this is one of my favorite hikes of all time. I can’t recommend it more highly than that.
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!