Know the New Hiking How-tos
Terrace Pond Loop via Terrace Pond West and Terrace Pond Circular Trails from Clinton Road
Directions to trailhead
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 8.3 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 P7) 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.).
NOTE: The trail over the outlet of Terrace Pond is temporarily closed to permit construction of an improved crossing. Until the construction is completed, this hike cannot be followed as described, and hikers should instead follow the Terrace Pond West Loop hike that starts from Clinton Road.
From the parking area, cross the road and enter the woods at a kiosk. Turn right to follow the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West Trail in the counter-clockwise direction. You now follow a rocky trail through mountain laurel, hemlock and white pine, crossing several wet areas on puncheons and large rocks.
In about half a mile, the trail goes through a magnificent rhododendron grove, with the large rhododendrons 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 lined with ferns. You’ll be following woods roads, with gentle grades, for the next mile.
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 (this view of the swamp may be obscured by vegetation in the summer). Just beyond, the yellow trail bears left at the top of a rise, with another woods road going off to the right.
The trail continues along the woods road, which once again begins to run along the swamp on the left, with much beaver activity visible in the swamp. Just beyond the end of the swamp you’ll reach a junction with the Yellow Dot Trail, marked with yellow-on-white blazes. Bear left to continue along the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West Trail, which follows a relatively level footpath through a deciduous forest, with an understory of mountain laurel and blueberry.
Soon after passing the end of the Terrace Pond Red Trail on the right, the Terrace Pond West Trail descends rather steeply to cross a stream. It then begins a steady climb, reaching jumbled lichen-covered boulders near the crest of the rise. A short distance beyond, you'll come to a southeast-facing viewpoint from a rock outcrop.
After a short level section, the trail bears left and continues along another rock outcrop. Like the previous outcrop, this one is composed of reddish-purple "puddingstone" conglomerate rock, with quartz pebbles embedded in the rock.
After following the outcrop for some distance, the trail descends to the right and follows another relatively level section. It 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 yellow 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 West Trail descends steeply over rocks to reach a junction with the white-blazed Terrace Pond Circular Trail.
Turn right onto the white trail, which soon climbs to a rock outcrop with pitch pines. Here, a triple-blaze marks the end of the Yellow Dot Trail, but you should continue along the white trail, which follows the long rock outcrop for some distance before reentering the woods.
After passing a huge glacial erratic on the left, the white trail comes out onto another rock outcrop, from which it descends steeply. At the base of the descent, you'll come to a fork. Here, you should turn left onto a short unmarked side trail which leads to a rock outcrop, with fine views over Terrace Pond. This is a great spot to take a break and enjoy the beauty of this secluded glacial pond.
When you're ready to continue, bear left at the fork and continue along the white trail, parallel to the pond. After passing another viewpoint over the pond, you'll come to a T-intersection, where the blue-blazed Terrace Pond North Trail joins from the right. Turn left, now following both white and blue blazes.
Just beyond, the trail descends very steeply. You'll need to use both your hands and your feet to make your way down the steep rock faces. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses the outlet of the pond on logs. This crossing can be extremely difficult in wet periods. The trail now climbs, steeply in places, over rock ledges and outcrops, soon reaching another junction, marked by a triple white blaze (indicating that the Terrace Pond Circular Trail technically begins and ends here).
Turn right onto the yellow-blazed Terrace Pond West Trail, which crosses several wet areas on planks and logs. After a steep descent, followed by 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 yellow trail, which makes several short, steep descents (and a few short climbs). After a relatively level stretch, the trail descends rather steeply. At the base of the descent (and before beginning the next steep descent), 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 yellow trail re-enters the woods on the left and goes around a locked gate. The trail leads in about half a mile, over relatively level terrain, back to the trailhead, crossing several wet areas on rocks.