This hike loops around two scenic lakes – Blue Mountain Lake and Hemlock Pond. Blue Mountain Lake, situated close to the parking area, is heavily used in summer months, as swimming is permitted (swimming is allowed in natural bodies of water in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area even if lifeguards are not present), while the beautiful but remote Hemlock Pond is much less visited....
This hike loops around two scenic lakes – Blue Mountain Lake and Hemlock Pond. Blue Mountain Lake, situated close to the parking area, is heavily used in summer months, as swimming is permitted (swimming is allowed in natural bodies of water in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area even if lifeguards are not present), while the beautiful but remote Hemlock Pond is much less visited. The hike follows the Blue Mountain Lake Trail, which includes both an Inner and Outer Loop, as well as several connecting trails, and the Hemlock Pond Loop.
From the northeast end of the parking area, near the kiosk, head into the woods. In 40 feet, bear right onto a blue/red-blazed connecting trail that heads downhill. At the next intersection, the western leg of the red-blazed Inner Loop begins on the left, but you should proceed ahead on the paved road, continuing to follow the blue/red-blazed connecting trail.
Soon, you’ll cross a culvert over a stream. Just beyond, the blue-blazed Outer Loop begins on the right, but you should continue ahead, now following the red blazes of the eastern leg of the Inner Loop. Soon, you’ll reach an open grassy area. The woods road you have been following continues ahead, but you should turn left and climb to Blue Mountain Lake. Continue to follow the red-blazed trail, which turns right onto a footpath that closely parallels the lakeshore, with views over the lake. Blueberry bushes are plentiful in this area, with the fruit ripening during the month of July.
As you approach an arm of the lake, the trail bears right and heads away from the lake, soon reaching a T-intersection with a grassy woods road. Turn left onto the road, continuing to follow the red blazes. Soon, a branch road begins on the left, but continue ahead on the main road.
At the next junction, turn right onto another blue/red-blazed connecting trail, which climbs gradually. Follow this connecting trail for about 750 feet to its end at a T-intersection, then turn left onto another woods road – the route of the blue-blazed Outer Loop. The trail descends to cross a stream on a culvert, then climbs gradually through an oak, birch and maple forest, with an understory of mountain laurel and blueberry bushes. After leveling off and then descending slightly, you’ll pass a small pond on the left that is beginning to grow in. Soon, the road curves to the left and passes through a hemlock forest, with an understory of mountain laurel.
At the next T-intersection, turn left onto a blue/green connecting trail, but in 60 feet, turn right onto a path that leads down to the shore of Hemlock Pond, whose entire shoreline is dominated by evergreens. This is a good place to stop and take a break, surrounded by the beauty of this scenic pond.
Return to the main trail and turn left to follow the green-blazed Hemlock Pond Trail in the counter-clockwise direction around the pond. You’re now proceeding through a dense stand of hemlocks. The hemlocks grow so thickly here that hardly any sunlight reaches the ground, with the result that there is no understory in this area.
A short distance ahead, you’ll reach an intersection where the orange/green-blazed Hemlock-Crater Connector begins on the right. Continue ahead on the green-blazed trail, but you might first want to follow another path (opposite the orange/green connector) down to the pond. From here, you can see the dam at the opposite end of the pond.
In half a mile, after continuing through a more open forest, you’ll reach another T-intersection. Here, the yellow-blazed Woods Road Trail begins on the right, but you should turn left to continue along the green-blazed Hemlock Pond Trail.
Soon, you’ll reach the dam of the pond. Bear left and cross the dam, which affords more views of the lake. Rock ledges at the southwest corner of the pond provide a nice place to stop and savor its beauty.
Proceed ahead on a gravel road, and in 300 feet, you’ll come to another T-intersection. Turn right onto the blue-blazed Outer Loop and continue through an area dominated by young black birch trees, with occasional rows of boulders on your left. In about a mile, you’ll arrive at a fork in the road. Bear right here and, in 300 feet, turn right onto a footpath that leads up to slabs of glacially polished bedrock. Continue ahead through the woods to an excellent viewpoint, with stunted pitch pines. This rocky outlook, known as Indian Rocks, offers views over the Delaware River valley and the Pocono plateau in Pennsylvania.
After taking in this view, return to the fork in the road, bear right onto a red/blue-blazed connector trail, then in 50 feet turn left (here the blazes switch to blue/red) and descend. When you reach a T-intersection at the base of the descent, turn right and follow the red-blazed Inner Loop along a crumbling paved road built for a development (the houses in this former residential community were demolished when the federal government acquired the property for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the 1960s).
As you descend, you’ll notice Blue Mountain Lake through the trees on your left. At the end of the lake, follow the red blazes, which turn left, leaving the road, and descend on a footpath to the dam of the lake (with another fine view over the lake). Turn right at the dam and continue along the red-blazed trail to the next intersection, then turn right and follow the blue/red blazes back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 09/05/2002 updated/verified on 07/20/2020
This loop hike circles Blue Mountain Lake, passes scenic Hemlock Pond, and climbs to a rocky viewpoint over the Poconos, following old roads for most of the way.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.