Hiking Delaware Water Gap

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This past weekend when my aunt in New Jersey asked if we wanted to go hiking, we jumped at the opportunity.  Even though it’s Fall, in the city the leaves are still green from the warmer weather, so I couldn’t wait to see the changing foliage in the mountains.  Since we don’t have a car, this is also a chance for us to explore other hiking trails further away from the city.  We are definitely making the most out of our hiking shoes!

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Map of our hike up Mount Tammany as recorded on the Google tracker.

About a two-hour drive from New York City, on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is the Delaware water gap, a natural phenomenon where the Delaware river cuts through the Appalachian mountains. We climbed to the top of Mount Tammany overlooking the Gap, Mount Minsi, and Route 80 below.  There are several ways for you to summit Mount Tammany, you can ascend on the BLUE trail which is less steep but longer distance or go with the RED dot trail that is shorter in length but more strenuous. Both trails are very rocky so it’s important to be careful and make sure you don’t slip on a loose rock and twist your ankle.  We choose to start on the RED dot trail which is 1.5 miles long and ascends 1250 feet to the top, then circle around and descend on the BLUE trail. The whole loop was about 3.5 miles long (we used Google Tracks to track our hike and create the map above) and it took about 3 hours to complete including rest stops. The following are highlights and photos of our hike:

1. After a late start due to an alarm clock malfunction, we finally made it on to the train heading to New Jersey.  We planned to meet my aunt and uncle at the train station then drive to the Delaware water gap. Our brains were not functioning in the early morning and we couldn’t figure out how to open the door to exit the train when it pulled into the station.  After a few minutes, it finally dawned on us that we needed to use another door, but by that time it was too late and the train was pulling away and we were stuck on board for another stop. After all the delays, it was almost noon by the time we finally made it to the starting point of the hike.  We learned the hard way that it’s imperative to get there early before all the parking lots fill up since we lost a bit more time circling around looking for a spot to open up.

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trail marker

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Fausto scrambling up a rocky path

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View of the Arrow island and the water gap below.

2. After parking and getting situated, look for stairs on the right-hand side of the Dunnfield Creek parking lot, this is where the RED dot trail starts.  Climb the rocky steps for about half a mile and you’ll see the first overlook about 500 feet above the Delaware river.  This is a good place to stop and admire the view of Arrow Island, Mount Minsi, and the water gap below.

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The hardest part of the hike.

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3. The second half of the climb is more grueling with steep rocky sections where you have to scramble over boulders. Push on for about a mile and you’ll get to the top of the mountain.  From the summit, you can climb out to a rocky outcrop to get the best view of the entire area.  It’s a long way down from there, so be careful when there are high winds because it’s easy to lose your footing.  From this vantage point, you can see the whole valley below with the foliage starting to change colors.  It’s a great place to sit back and admire nature and have a snack before continuing on.   

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4.  To descend, continue on the same path.  This is where the RED dot trail changes to the BLUE blazed trail.  The way down is less steep and more easy to navigate.  The road will wind around the woods taking you by a field of mulberry bushes.  In the Fall, the leaves on the bushes change color to a bright red.  The trees, tinted green from the dried up moss, rise tall over the red shrubbery carpeting the meadow.  The soft afternoon light filtering through the golden leaves accentuate all the lovely hues.

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5. About a mile and a half from the top, the BLUE trail turns into the GREEN trail.  In this area, you’ll see a gentle waterfall give way to a bubbling brook.  Due to the lack of rain this season, in some areas you’ll see exposed bedrock where the water has dried out. Continue over the bridge along the stream for a while. With a sharp eye, look carefully and you might be able to see a trout dashing back and forth in the clear water.

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6. Just before the end, the GREEN trail will rejoin the WHITE blazed Appalachian Trail, which leads back to the parking lot.

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I continue to love hiking, but I realized that I love hiking leisurely.  I get distracted photographing things along the way and ended up getting passed by everyone.  Overall, this hike was not too strenuous or long and the view from the top is great especially in the Fall. Check back soon to read about our trips to Toronto and Hong Kong. I have been procrastinating and put off sorting through my photos the past few weeks as I finish the New Orleans posts.  The next few months will be quite busy as I try to balance working, traveling, and writing.

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