Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiers making tracks.

Don't overlook winter at the Gap. Two major areas are maintained, when conditions permit, for beginner and advanced cross-country skiers. Equipment is not available at either site. Skiers will find five miles of gentle trails at the Slateford Farm Ski Trail in Pennsylvania. The Blue Mountain Lakes Ski Trail in New Jersey offers approximately ten miles of trails for skiers with varied abilities.

Slateford Farmhouse - Pennsylvania

From Smithfield Beach, a three-mile snowmobile trail runs through fields, and a six-mile loop climbs a forested ridge. Frozen lakes and ponds offer ice fishing and ice skating, weather permitting; neither activity is recommended on the river or on streams. Slateford Farmhouse and Blue Mountain Lakes are favorite locations for cross-country skiing; unplowed roads are ideal for this sport as well. For the experienced, well-trained, and well-equipped, ice climbing is another wintertime activity.

A network of trails around Slateford Farmhouse offer varied skiing opportunities. Beginners may enjoy the green-blazed, one-mile trail with few turns and relatively flat terrain. The blue-blazed trail offers intermediate-level skiers a more challenging 1-1/2-mile trail with steeper turns, hills, and long loops. For the advanced skier, the black- blazed trail offers sharp steeper turns, hills, and long loops over a three-mile trail.

From 1790 until 1868, when farming was America's primary industry, the Samuel Pipher family tended the surrounding land. In the last 100 years, the property was owned by a slate quarry company and also occupied by tenant farmers. Provincial proprietors, absentee landlords, and yeomen farmers all contributed to the farm's development and history for more than 200 years. For some, the property was nothing more than a financial investment, while for others it was a home. Slateford Farmhouse's history, made by the people associated with it, is unique, yet representative of American agriculture and industry.

Blue Mountain Lake - New Jersey

The Blue Mountain Lake area is located along Blue Mountain Lake Road (Flatbrook-Stillwater Road) atop the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey.

Approximately ten miles of trails are available for skiing, with trail markers and mounted maps at key intersections. However, skiers have become disoriented and lost on this extensive network of snow-covered trails. A detailed topographical map or hiking trail map is recommended along with a compass. Maps are available for purchase on weekends at Kittatinny Point Visitor Center in New Jersey. A pay phone is located at Millbrook Village 2-1/2 miles south of Blue Mountain Lake on Old Mine Road.

Beginner skiers will enjoy the inner loops around Blue Mountain Lake, which are relatively easy—ideal for introduction and practice. For intermediate skiers, the five-mile loop that leads to Hemlock Pond offers a scenic and varied trip. Allow four to five hours to ski this portion of the trail network.

While skiing along the trails, there are many opportunities to see varied natural features and wildlife. The snow-covered forest turns to dense stands of hemlocks at distant Hemlock Pond. The beaver swamp adjacent to Hemlock Pond is evidence of the value of this area for wildlife habitat.

Chances of seeing white-tailed deer, porcupine, turkey, fox, and numerous birds are good. This area also has a small but stable population of black bears and the elusive coyote.

Interpretive signs along the trail will help you identify tracks made by these animals. The lookout from Indian Rocks provides a scenic view and the possibility of sighting the bald eagles that winter along the Delaware River.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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