Climb steeply uphill to a fantastic overlook of the Delaware Water Gap and Mt. Minsi across the way.
Our two cents: This is one of the most popular hikes in New Jersey. You probably won’t have the trail to yourself but the view is worth the crowds.
And you never know what you are going to get when you hit the top…
We’ve been there on beautiful fall days with only a couple people quietly taking in the view… while one time we arrived to find tons of people, a guitar player belting out tunes, and people passing around a box of donuts. Ahhh, Jersey.
Note: Many people manage this route, but please be aware this is most certainly a hike – and not a la-di-da stroll in the park.
3.5 miles. Rocky, steep. Short in length, but strenuous due to steepness. Rock scrambling. The return trail is less steep but still very rocky.
This loop goes up the RED DOT trail and returns down the BLUE trail. We recommend this way as the rock scrambles on RED DOT are a bit harder to negotiate going down.
- Easier variation: Up/down on BLUE. Miss a view on the RED trail and it’s a less interesting hike – but it’s easier and arrives at the same viewpoint.
- Easy/super short option: If the hike up is too much, or some people in your group don’t want to go, instead of hitting the summit you can go to the far end of the parking lot, head over the bridge and walk along Dunnfield Creek. This is a stunning area of New Jersey and is gorgeous in any season (if you do the loop hike below, you will pass by this area on your way back). At the trail split (big ole sign there, can’t miss it), bear right to another bridge over the creek and Dunnfield Falls and some lovely water cascades.
- Challenging: Check out Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond or our “Mind The Gap” hike.
- Nearby: Sunfish Pond, Appalachian Trail – Sunfish Pond to Raccoon Ridge, Sunfish Pond – Garvey Springs and Douglas Loop, Mt. Minsi.
View of Mt. Minsi and the Delaware Water Gap at the first viewpoint.
Fun Fact: The Delaware Water Gap is nowhere near the state of Delaware, as many people often believe. A “water gap” is when a river carves a notch through a mountain range.
At the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Delaware River has cut through the Kittatinny Ridge leaving a large gap with Mt. Tammany on the New Jersey side, and Mt. Minsi on the Pennsylvania side.
Updated 6/2019: Re-hiked the RED DOT-BLUE loop, description updated, added photos, updated GPX file and Google Map (same route, just replacing our 10-year-old file (!) with newer GPS data.)
Map# 121 of the Kittatinny Trails map set. The Mt. Tammany area is in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area, while parts of BLUE DOT and the Dunnfield Creek Trail are in Worthington State Forest.
N40.97213° W75.12592° [Dunnfield Lot]
Route 80 West to just before the last exit in New Jersey. On the right is a sign for Dunnfield Creek Natural Area.
There is a parking lot on the right, then a large main lot (parking on the grass area past the main lot is no longer allowed). The road is one way so you can’t backtrack to a passed lot unless you get back onto Rt 80 and come around.
In the photo gallery, we’ve added a photo overview of the parking lots as it’s just easier to show it than explain it.
These lots fill quickly and are often closed by 10am in season. If those are full, park at the visitor center and walk back to the trailhead or use the shuttle that runs in season. If it’s crazy crowded, consider a nearby hike listed above.
Kittatinny Point Visitor Center: Head back out onto Rt. 80 from the Dunnfield lot and take the very next exit right, then make a left like you are going to go around to 80 E, then instead of merging onto 80, immediately head to the right into the visitor center.
HIKER SHUTTLE to the Dunnfield Creek lot and Kittatinny Visitors Center runs weekends and holidays from Saturday, May 26, 2018 until Labor Day. Every half hour between 10 AM and 5:30 PM, departing from the Park and Ride in PA. Cost is $1 per person. Lots often are full by 10am, this is to alleviate parking issues. Info: www.gomcta.com.
Porta-john(s) in the back of the lot (as of June 2019, but sometimes there hasn’t been one). Toilets also at the Kittatinny Point Visitor Center.
There is rest area, Delaware Water Gap Travel Plaza, on Rt. 80 W. about 5 mins before the trailhead.
IMPORTANT: The RED DOT trailhead is at the beginning of the main lot, near the road (when driving into the lot, it is on your right). Look for the big brown sign with red blazes.
At the far end of the lot is the start of the rest of the area’s trails. People often mistake this as the trail to the summit. If you immediately head over a bridge, you are not on RED DOT.
While Mt. Tammany can be reached from the BLUE trail further down, people are usually looking to do the RED DOT trail.
We’ve run into people going the opposite way, miles away along Dunnfield (GREEN) or the Appalachian Trail, that thought they were hiking to Mt Tammany… so make sure to find the right trail.
Overview: RED DOT – BLUE – Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) – Appalachian Trail (WHITE)
RED DOT is a red dot on white. Depending on the map, the BLUE trail may be BLUE DOT and on newer maps as “Pahaquarry Trail” – but for simplicity we’ve kept it as BLUE.
0.0 – Start heading uphill on a rocky trail.
0.5 – Very nice view where Mt. Tammany can be seen on the left, Rt. 80 and the Delaware River going through “The Gap” in the center, and Mt Minsi on the right.
Shorter Option: You can turn around here if you’ve decided that was enough hiking for you.
There is a very rocky section shortly after this viewpoint. Continue to follow RED DOT up – there is only one trail in this area and is mostly easy to follow.
Pay attention on the rocky sections for markers to guide you through – they may be painted on the rocks as well.
Water Gap T-Shirts and More
1.3 – At the rocky summit, there are broad views of the entire Delaware Water Gap area, Rt. 80 and Mt Minsi across the Delaware River.
Turn right to scramble down the rocks as far as is comfortable, or stay at the top.
This is a good spot to watch hawks and turkey vultures ride the thermal air currents. And, of course, have a snack.
RED DOT ends. Look for the BLUE markers that start past the viewpoint to now follow BLUE.
Variation: Retrace RED DOT back – going downhill over the rocks is steep and can be tricky so most people take BLUE DOT back as it is more gradual.
1.7 – Turn LEFT at the sign to continue following BLUE downhill on a very eroded woods road. [The Mt Tammany Fire Road (unmarked) continues straight.]
2.2 – Continue following BLUE as it marks a sharp LEFT.
2.9 – Turn LEFT to start following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) which may also have BLUE blazes. [Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) also goes to the right.]
The creek, several cascades, and Dunnfield Falls comes into view. There is a wooden bench.
Continue following Dunnfield Creek (GREEN) over a bridge before ending at the Appalachian Trail (WHITE).
Continue straight, now following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) along pretty Dunnfield Creek and back to the parking lot.
Hiked 6/9/19. Mt. Tammany, with A.
Hiked 8/22/15. Tammany, Fire Road, Sunfish, with M.
Hiked 10/23/10. Trail Blog: “Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond in the Fall“
Hiked 10/25/09. With Mt. Minsi – Mind The Gap.
Hiked 3/22/09. Trail Blog: “Water Gap: Mt. Tammany, Fire Road, Sunfish Pond, Dunnfield Creek“
Hiked 8/03/08. Trail Blog: “Water Gap – Mt. Tammany to Fire Road to Sunfish to Green“
Hiked 1/22/06. Trail Blog: “Delaware Water Gap – Mt. Tammany Summit and Beyond”