Exploring a Blue Blaze: Dunnfield Creek Trail, NJ
Guys, organic chemistry is hard. Like, really hard. Like, “I have two degrees and I’ve never worked so hard just to pass a class” hard.
So when the midterm that took over my life was in the rear view this past November, I wanted nothing more than to stretch my legs and rehab my frazzled brain with a good long walk in the woods. How lucky for me that I was catching up on my App Trials reading when I came across this series by Kenny Howell: Best Blue Blazes on the AT (Part 4). I live about an hour from the Delaware Water Gap and have occasionally gone tubing down the river in that area, but had yet to explore on foot.
My only free-ish day was a Wednesday, and I had to be at work at 5pm. So I booked it out to the DWG and made it in 45 minutes (shhhh). It was an overcast day, cool but not cold, and it felt just awesome being out in the woods after sitting and studying for so long. There were maybe a dozen cars in the parking area but I think I only saw 7 people the whole time I was out.
The trail was well marked and I had no problem finding the AT and then the Dunnfield Creek Trail branch-off (green blazed). As Kenny says, it was really just lovely, pretty and peaceful. I didn’t find it particularly challenging, as there’s not much elevation change in the first 3 miles. The trail loosely followed the Dunnfield Creek, and included several pretty easy rock hops back and forth across the creek. The woods were still and quiet, with all the leaves down and the critters curled up somewhere warm. Luckily I didn’t see anyone, because I think I was just grinning like an idiot the entire time I was out. I felt like I had discovered some place secret and wonderful.
The final ascent up to Sunfish Pond was tough, and definitely got my breathing and heart rate up. I was glad I finally got to see the Pond, as I’ve read about it as a lovely day hike near me for a while. I snapped a few quick photos but unfortunately couldn’t linger (plus I would have gotten chilly if I’d stopped moving for too long). I came back down via the AT, which was wide and rocky and gradual, and not particularly scenic, as Kenny also says. Most of it looked like it would be golf-cart accessible. I know there are purists out there, but when you get to this section of the AT, I would suggest to NOBO thru-hikers that they go ahead and take the blue (green) blazed Dunnfield Creek Trail. It’s the same mileage and much prettier.
With about a mile left I started feeling my effort in my hips and legs, and was about ready to be done for the day. Still, I felt good for most of the hike and kept up a quick pace for most of the 8-9 miles, getting back to my car after almost exactly 2.5 hours. That puts me at a little over 3 miles per hour, carrying only a day pack and not a ton of elevation to deal with.
What I learned on this mini-shake down:
-I really need to start hiking more around PA/NJ and knocking out sections near me. It was so easy to get to and there are lots of AT hop-on/hop-off points in the area.
-Being in the woods is the best, especially when there aren’t loads of other people around.
-I reluctantly admitted that I want to bring a selfie stick on my hike. I totally made fun of my husband when he bought one but I took it with me on a whim and it was fun to play with and capture my hike in a different way. I still feel silly when I’m using it though. It doesn’t work with my Motorola phone for some reason – I had to bring an old iPhone on this short hike, and I am not bringing two phones on the AT. Something to figure out later. I hate technology.
-The PA rocks are real, and they’ve infiltrated the trail into Jersey.
Find me on the Instagram! @nicholeyoung1
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.