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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Hike of the Day: PA's Delaware Water Gap

Trek to the border of New Jersey along PA's finest section of the Appalachian Trail.



  Thru-hikers refer to the Keystone state as “rocksylvania” because the trail seems paved haphazardly with jagged stones. The payoff for the occasional stubbed toe? Long, rolling views from countless outcropping and balds. Access the trail, northbound, in Wind Gap for an easy start along a gentle climb through oak and box elder, crossing the Blue Mountain Water Company Rd. at 2.1 miles. Gain 570 feet as you climb to a wooded ridge and track along it for 4.7 miles.

At mile 6.8, you’ll reach 1,620-foot Wolf Rock, a lichen-covered knob with views over a sea of white pines. On a clear day, you can spot New Jersey’s Kittatinny Ridge, whose name means “endless mountains.” In .3 mile, you’ll reach an old road. Turn right and follow it .9 mile. At mile 7.7, head left back into the woods. Walk .5 mile to Fox Gap at PA 191. The Kirkridge shelter (sleeps six) lies straight ahead at mile nine. (Pack a tent? Hike another .5 mile north to camp in an open meadow.) Spend the night listening to thru-hiker anecdotes (they’ll be blazing through en force midsummer).

The next day, hike .8 mile to Lunch Rocks and another sweeping vista. The trail turns into a gravel road at mile 11.1 and back into singletrack 1.7 miles later, where you’ll begin an easy ascent of 1,461-foot Mt. Minsi; look and listen for red-bellied woodpeckers (chuf-chuf-chuf’s alternating with br-r-r-r-t’s). A mile after the summit, the AT crosses the Lookout Rock Trail, which leads to, yes, a sweet lookout. Gaze across the Delaware River to see 1,527-foot Mt. Tammany. Continue .1 mile through a rhododendron tunnel to Eureka Creek. Slosh across and reach Council Rock at mile 14.4. Descend .7 mile to the Lake Lenape trailhead and your shuttle car.

See a bigger map, elevation profile, and GPS details at backpacker.com/hikes/368663.


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Feb 12, 2010

I covered this hike as part of an AT Section Hike(Swatara Gap->DelWaterGap) last summer. My day before this was abbreviated by a violent thunder storm that spawned a tornado - I ducked off the trail at Little Gap - when I passed through this portion I was trying to make up time lost. Ice cold sodas at the old Motel in Wind Gap fueled me up the "gentle climb through oak and box elder". After the day's mileage and 90į+ heat, it didn't feel so gentle. Starting fresh here, it'll be nice. The wooded ridge after Wind Gap was very cool. It was early evening and I saw dozens of deer who seemed to just stand and watch me pass. I also passed numerous camps already set for the night and oddly saw no food hanging - not smart. I made camp just before Wolf Rock while it was still daylight. I missed the Wolf Rock vista the next morning. At 7:30am it was socked in by fog and so was the meadow. At the meadow I saw the coolest dog tent. A couple of guys were hiking with their dog and the little guy had his own little bivy. The water source behind the Kirkridge Shelter was excellent and as I climbed away from the shelter, the fog finally lifted. The vistas above the water gap were killer rivaled only by the beautiful forest you descend through on the way to town. DWG is a very cool town with outfitters and food. My wife picked me up on the NJ side of the Rt 80 bridge and we scooted to nearby Stroudsburg for a burger and a beer! I highly recommend this hike, the fog was a bad luck and timing thing for me, the vistas are definitely worth it!

Cory
Feb 11, 2010

Right before I got married, I packed from the Delps area to the town of Delaware Water Gap. Along the way I met some cool thru-hikers, including an Isreali visitor out on his own, walked alongside a surprisingly calm herd of deer who traveled with me for 100 yards or so at a distance of only 20-30 feet, and saw golden eagles floating along the walls of the gap.

Scott Olson
Feb 09, 2010

Please see http://bit.ly/aEHBjS - Susquehanna-Roseland Powerlines threaten the Delaware River and Water Gapís scenic beauty - also visit http://www.OpposeTheTowers

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