Terrace Pond Loop via Terrace Pond Red Trail from Clinton Road


This loop hike goes through dense mountain laurel and rhododendron thickets and climbs over puddingstone rock outcrops to reach beautiful Terrace Pond.

3.5 hours
Moderate to Strenuous
4.7 miles
Route Type:
Allowed on leash
Views, Wildflowers
First Published:

Daniel Chazin


Terrace Pond from the Terrace Pond Circular Trail. Photo by Daniel Chazin


View Clinton Road in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
Driving Directions

Take I-287 to Exit 57 (Skyline Drive) and continue on Skyline Drive to its western terminus at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County Route 511). Turn right and proceed north on Greenwood Lake Turnpike. When you reach a fork at 8.4 miles, bear right to continue on Warwick Turnpike (still County Route 511). Proceed for another 2.3 miles and turn left onto Clinton Road. Continue on Clinton Road for 1.7 miles to a large parking area (designated as P-7) on the right side of the road, about 0.2 mile south of a gas pipeline crossing (and just north of the entrance to the Wildcat Mountain Wilderness Site - Project U.S.E.).


From the parking area, cross the road and enter the woods at triple yellow and blue blazes. Follow the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond South Trail, which turns right almost immediately. (The blue-blazed Terrace Pond North Trail, which goes off to the left, will be your return route.) You will soon find yourself in deep woods, following a rocky trail through a large stand of mountain laurel, hemlock and white pine, and crossing several wet areas on plank puncheons and large rocks.

In about half a mile, the trail goes through a magnificent rhododendron grove, with the large rhododendronsTerrace Pond from the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular Trail forming an arch over the trail in places. Soon after you leave the rhododendron grove, the laurel and evergreens end, and you proceed through a second-growth forest of deciduous trees. After following an interesting whaleback rock and crossing two low stone walls, the yellow trail turns left onto a woods road. You’ll be following woods roads, with gentle grades, for the next 1.3 miles.

Soon, the yellow markers bear left again onto another woods road lined with barberry bushes – indicating that this area was once farmed. Then, after half a mile, take care to follow the yellow markers as they bear very sharply left at a junction of woods roads. A short distance ahead, the yellow trail passes a swamp on the left, with many dead trees. A quarter of a mile beyond the sharp turn, the yellow trail bears left at the top of a rise, with another woods road going off to the right. 

Beaver lodge and dam in swamp along Terrace Pond South Trail. Photo by Daniel Chazin.The trail again begins to run along the swamp on the left. Towards the end of the swamp, the yellow markers twice bear right, bypassing flooded sections of the woods road, and crossing the outlet of the swamp on rocks. Between the two detours, the trail crosses a large concrete pipe, with much beaver activity visible in the swamp. 

A short distance beyond, you’ll reach a junction with the Yellow Dot Trail, marked with yellow-on-white blazes. Bear right here, leaving the yellow trail, and continue ahead on the Yellow Dot Trail, which follows a pleasant woods road. 

In another quarter of a mile, after passing cliffs to the left, you’ll reach a junction with the red-blazed Terrace Pond Red Trail (marked by a sign). Turn left and follow the red trail. The hike now becomes more rugged. After a steep climb up a ridge, the trail follows the ridge to the north, continuing to ascend gradually. It then descends to a valley, crosses an intermittent stream, and continues across several low ridges. 

A huge rock outcrop soon appears directly ahead. The trail turns right, parallels the outcrop, then climbs to itsPuddingstone outcrop. Photo by Daniel Chazin. top and continues along it. The outcrop is composed of reddish-purple "puddingstone" conglomerate rock, with quartz pebbles embedded in the rock. You’ll have to look carefully to find the red blazes painted on the rock. 

After following the outcrop for some distance, the trail descends to the right and soon reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond South Trail (the same trail that you followed for the first two miles of the hike). The two trails run jointly for a short distance. When they again divide, turn left and continue to follow the red blazes. The Terrace Pond Red Trail climbs along another rock outcrop, then steeply climbs over rocks to reach a seasonal viewpoint to the east through the trees. Just beyond, Terrace Pond itself may be seen below to the right (when there are no leaves on the trees). 

Continuing along its rugged, rocky route, the red trail passes to the left of a huge boulder with some interesting crevices that you can walk through. There is a view over Terrace Pond from the top of the boulder. Just beyond, the Terrace Pond Red Trail descends steeply over rocks to end at a junction with the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular Trail. Turn left and follow the white trail. A short distance ahead – just beyond another rock scramble – you’ll reach an open area along the lakeshore. This is a great spot to take a break and enjoy the beauty of this secluded glacial lake. 

Terrace Pond. Photo by Daniel Chazin.When you’re ready to continue, proceed north along the white trail. Soon, you’ll come to a junction with the blue-blazed Terrace Pond North Trail. Here, you’ll notice a triple white blaze (indicating that the Terrace Pond Circular Trail technically begins and ends here). 

Turn left and follow the blue blazes of the Terrace Pond North Trail, which crosses several wet areas on planks, logs and rocks. After a short climb, you’ll emerge onto a large open rock outcrop. Just to the left of the trail, there are panoramic west-facing views from the top of a rounded peak of conglomerate rock. This is another good spot for a break. 

Continue along the blue trail, with level stretches interrupted by several short, steep descents (and a few short climbs). At one point (just before beginning one of the descents), you’ll notice a steep rock outcrop immediately to your left. Climb this outcrop for another panoramic view to the west and northwest. 

Soon afterwards, you’ll come out onto a wide cut for a gas line. Bear left here and follow along the left side of the steep and eroded gas line for about 450 feet to the bottom of the hill. Here, the blue trail re-enters the woods on the left and leads in about half a mile, over relatively level terrain, back to the trailhead, crossing several wet areas on rocks.

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Miss the early years!

I hiked the terrace pond loop today and I'll tell you what a dump that place has become. Below the second rock outcropping ( off the blue trail ) is loaded with plastic bottles, broken glass and empty cardboard packages. Couldn't get to the pond overlook because of a big party going on. I remember back in the day around 2004-05ish this place was a very less visited spot. I remember there was no trash, graffiti and broken glass along the way. The pond itself was peaceful on a Saturday or sunday. Whatever! I'm done with hiking that place during the summer season.

Parking at P7 for on Clinton Rd

Take Note:  There is new signage in place at Parking P7 used for Terrace Pond Trails.  Vehicles parked before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. will be towed by West Milford PD and NJ State Park Police.  There is continual problems with illegal swimmers, graffiti and mounds of trash left behind.  This affects the enjoyment of others who wish to hike to and around the Pond.  This requires State employees and NYNJTC volunteers to continually remove mounds of garbage as well as covering graffiti.  Not to mention the need for Search & Rescue on a frequent basis.   Therefore, parking is restricted at P7 to Park hours only.  The other parking lot will eventually be completely closed and parking along the road shoulder will be prohibited.  

Hiking Permit required?

Is a permit required to hike this trail? If so, from whom and how is it obtained?

Hiking permit is not required

As is made clear in my response to a comment below, Parking Area P-7 is on Wawayanda State Park property.  This parking area is not on the property of the Newark Watershed.  The hike itself also traverses lands of Wawayanda State Park.  Apparently, two years ago, an employee of the Newark Watershed mistakenly placed warning notices on cars parked in Parking Area P-7.  When the authorities were contacted, they admitted that this was an error on their part.  Hikers may park in this parking area and do this hike without obtaining any permit.

parking notice

Very interesting but strenuous hike.  Done on a hot summer's day.  It was party time at Terrace pond with swimmers everywhere.   The hike down on the blue trail was much more strenuous than the hike up on the yellow. We parked in the recommended lot P-7 off of Clinton Road, and came back to find a Warning Notice from the City of Newark Water Supply claiming that the lot was on city property.   There were no signs posted at the lot telling us not to trespass.  Also,  the map shows the lot to be on Wawayanda State Park property.    I called the NWCDC office (973-697-2850) to complain and was told that P-7 required a permit for parking.   The warning tells me that I have 3 days to buy a permit or they will mail a ticket to me for trespassing! I believe NWCDC is in error,  but if not,  it is the first time that a NYNJTC description has been this wrong.

NWCDC permit is not needed at parking area P-7

The issue with the parking tickets (actually warnings) was brought to my attention this morning.  I had parked there last Tuesday and did not receive either a warning or a ticket.  Our Trails Chair for the area has contacted people from the Newark Watershed, and they have confirmed that parking area P-7 is located on state land and that one may park there without obtaining a permit from the Newark Watershed.  I would suggest that you contact the Watershed office again and advise them of the above.  To repeat, a NWCDC permit is not required for parking at parking area P-7.  The police officers who issued the tickets or warnings acted on a misunderstanding, which hopefully has been corrected and will not recur.

NWCDC office said permit is not required to park at P-7

I called NWCDC office today to confirm the parking is allowed at P-7 and it got confirmed ! They took care of it already.   --Mei

thank you!

Thanks for such a quick response!!!

Ticked in parking lot

We did this hike on Sunday. Nice hike, but when we got back, all the cars in the parking lot were ticketed. The tickets claimed this was part of the Newark Watershed, and permits were required. There were no signs to that effect, although further down the road there were signs.  

Bears on trail

I did this hike as a trail run yesterday evening (6/29/2012) and saw a bear on the red blazed trail.  Luckily I heard it making noise and could see it before I was right on it.  I made a lot of noise (city girl that I am I had my rape whistle handy) and while it did show some interest in me it eventually lumbered away. Later in the hike at the lake I met up with some other hikers and they said someone they met at the lake a week or two ago had seen a bear on the red trail as well.   Earlier in the hike I saw bear tracks on an offshoot of the the yellow trail when I made a navigational error.  These were fresh so I'm guessing I was either following the bear or he had been headed my way and I just missed him.   Other than the bear sighting this was a great route and I enjoyed it.  This was perfect for the limited time I had in the evening.  There were a couple places where I had trouble finding the blazes but eventually figured it out.    I wouldn't call the trail "moderate to strenuous".  I would rate this as very easy.  I come from Washington state and you would be hard pressed to find a hike with this little elevation gain and just generally so mellow with the wide "woods roads" for the path.  The only thing that could possibly make me rate it as moderate is that in several places it was a bit technical for me to feel safe running it given that I was out there on my own.

I wouldn't rate this hike "very easy"!

I did the hike yesterday (July 3rd) and found that very little had changed since I first wrote up the hike about 10 years ago. Beavers have been active at the swamp and have raised its level, and our volunteers have put rock stepping stones over some of the wet areas, but not much else has changed in the last 10 years. I did not see a bear, or evidence of one, but I did notice a rattlesnake along the trail near the swamp. As for the rating of the hike, I certainly would not call it "very easy." There is a significant amount of elevation gain and loss, and while some of the hike follows wide woods roads, other sections follow rugged footpaths. There are quite a few spots where the trail climbs or descends so steeply that you have to use both your hands and your feet. Perhaps the trail is much easier than most trails in the State of Washington, but when compared to other trails in New Jersey and New York, I believe that the appropriate rating is "moderate to strenuous."