Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
|Fall colors in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania/New Jersey (Tony Sweet/Digital Vision/Getty)|
The Delaware Water Gap is a gaping hole in the Appalachians through which the Delaware River flows. This craggy, spectacular gap on the border of northwestern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania is more than a mile wide. Yet the National Recreation Area that surrounds the gap offers much more than a break in the rock; it encompasses 40 miles of the middle Delaware River and almost 70,000 acres of land along its shores.
The Delaware River itself, with beaches and boat launches, serves as the centerpiece of recreation, but the surrounding area offers much more. Rocky cliffs stretch straight up, offering great climbing. Wooded hills pepper the landscape, making for awesome hiking and biking. Wildlife? You bet. Deer, beaver, and otter scamper through these woods and waters, while hawks and bald eagles are regular visitors. Streams, ponds, waterfalls, and mountain overlooks make for incredible scenery. And though more than four million people visit each year, you can still carve out your own stretch of solitude.
The Delaware isn't the only game in town for fishing. Lakes blanket the area and streams cut through, offering great casting opportunities. What can you find? Head over to Flatbrook and Bushkill creeks, tributaries of the Delaware, for trout. Lakes and ponds have pickerel, sunfish, and rock bass. In the streams, you're after brook and brown trout. In Van Campen's Brook, you'll be chasing rainbow trout. And in the Delaware itself, cast your line for carp, catfish, shad, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, and walleye. Just remember: This place cuts across two states. Make sure you have the appropriate fishing license.
With its diverse ecosystem, and the fact that the Appalachian Trail cuts through it, the Gap makes for some great hiking. And there are options just about everywhere you turn. Starting in the historic Millbrook Village? Try the increasingly steep Donkeys Corners Trail, a two-mile jaunt to Blue Mountain Lake Road. Something easier: Watergate Trail, just over a mile from Millbrook Village. Birders are in luck: Climb Mt. Minsi (an easy one, at just under 1,500 feet) and look for turkey vultures, which soar on the Gap's thermals. Or take the Mt. Minsi Fire Road, a 1.5-mile road that can be hiked in conjunction with the AT. And for a great view of the Gap itself, try the Table Rock Spur, just 0.5-mile long, which branches off the AT a short distance beyond Lake Lenape.
One thing to remember: There's tons of wildlife here, and it often darts across your path. Keep that in mind and tour the whole park on Old Mine Road, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware. Or go off-road on the designated mountain-bike trail at Blue Mountain Lake in New Jersey (hint: the inner loops are the easiest). For more of a challenge, head to Hemlock Pond for a five-mile loop. The hard-packed dirt roads are fun to ride, just be aware that they're open to traffic. Big Egypt Road runs between Rt. 209 and Milford Road, about two miles with some moderate-to-steep sections. Freeman Tract Road, from River Road up to the Delaware River, is an easy three-mile ride. And Zion Church Road goes between Hidden Lake Road and River Road for 1.9 miles, passing by Zion Church and the beautiful Hidden Lake.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication