Terrace Pond is one of those unique places, where within a few miles you can see almost every possible terrain you can imagine. From rock climbing, to wide flat woods roads, from a dense undergrowth to a mountain lake, from swamps to peaks offering nice views - everything is represented here. A little away from main hiking routes, this hike remains relatively unknown.
This part of the hike leads under tall rhododendrons, which completely enclose the trail, creating a tunnel vision, which is especially powerful in summer. After this section and a little more walking, you will come to a wide-open area, with the trail leading straight across a boulder several hundred feet long. Look for the markers on the boulder.
Just as you reenter the woods, the trail crosses a wide woods road. The markers will lead you to turn left, taking this road. The road first slopes upwards very gently, but after a while starts descending. The descend ends in a small valley, when the woods road gets a gravel surface. Continue walking on this road, and soon you will turn sharply left and start climbing. You've got to pay a lot of attention at this left turn. Your trail will merge with another road under a sharp angle, and a marking on a tree left of you will tell you to turn right here. That's wrong, however; the marking is telling people coming from the other direction to turn right here. You've got to take the very sharp left turn, otherwise you'll end up going away from the lake.
Towards your left, there will be a large swamp. Even in a dry season, the swamp has grown and swallowed a few section of the road; alternate trails now circumvent these areas. To your right, you will see several large outcroppings. I tend to climb up here and rest a little, as these rocks are ignored by the few other hikers here, and the view is decent. As you continue on this road, you will come to a fork, with a yellow dot trail leaving to your right. Ignore that trail, and turn left.
Almost immediately, the trail starts a series of short ups and downs. Negotiate this area, but watch out for the downhill parts - many rocks look firmer than they really are, and you may slip easily. Soon, you will climb up a flat rocky ridge, which offers a few resting spots. Once refreshed, follow the train, as it descends into a wide gully. The last time I have been here, the sun has already vanished behind the ridge, and the gully has gained a very gloomy quality. The trail is very narrow here, leading through relatively dry sections of a swamp, but well defined by very thick undergrowth on both sides. In addition, the rocky outcroppings on the top of the ridge next to you always seem on the verge of falling down. Needless to say, I really liked this section.
The book 50 Hikes In New Jersey calls the next section a "roller coaster", and I could not agree more. The trail goes sharply up and down over and over again. This section is little used and overgrown with lichen and moss; when it gets wet, this part can be very slippery. Proceed carefully through this area and note the red trail that joins yours for a few feet and leaves to the left. Ignore this trail. The yellow trail soon ends on a T-junction with the white trail. Turn left here.
After another short but very atmospheric gully, the trail merges with the red trail again, and climbs across another steep rocky ridge. Once you negotiate this ridge, you will come to a wide-open section, with the Terrace Pond right in front of you. Descend to a small sandy beach on your right for a rest.
When you entered the forest at the beginning of the hike, you may have noticed "no swimming" signs everywhere. The reason for posting these signs is the Terrace Pond. It is completely enclosed by large stone walls, quite deep and very clean. No matter what the temperature is (last time I was here, it was just below freezing), I always want to jump right in; the lake looks very inviting. Resist the urge, and simply sit or lay down and relax. If you are lucky and nobody else is around, you will have the best relax you could wish for.
After refreshing the body and the spirit, go on along the lake. At the other end, you will run into the blue trail. Turn left onto this trail and start a steady descend. This section has the roller coaster qualities again, but this time you will spend a significant portion of time climbing up a flat rock, which can be slippery even when it's dry. Be extra careful here. At the top of this rock, the trail leads right, but you may want to climb left for a spectacular view of the surrounding area, from the sharp peak of this rock. Below this rock you will find lots of trash; I always collect some and take with me to depose of it, but people I'd really love to hurt mess up this area again.
The descend can be tricky here - the trail goes steeply down, and in one section you will actually have to sit down and slide a little. Once you are done with this section, the trails turns left and remains relatively flat until it hits a wide-open area. Turn left here and go downhill. Watch for trails leaving to your left; after your hike levels off, the blue trail leaves this area again. It is the third main trail in that direction. After another 20 minutes or so of a very level walk through a beautiful forest, you will emerge at the beginning of the trail again.
© Jozef Purdes, 2001-2003