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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

Rip & Go: Pennsylvania's Appalachian Trail - From Wind Gap to Delaware Water Gap

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

by: Adrienne Saia Isaac, Illustration by Supercorn

Chief Tammany (Monroe County Historical Assoc.)
Chief Tammany (Monroe County Historical Assoc.)

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Do it
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 (1) for an easy start along a gentle climb through oak and box elder, crossing the Blue Mountain Water Company Rd. at 2.1 miles (2). 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 (3), 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 (4). Turn right and follow it .9 mile.

At mile 7.7, head left back into the woods. Walk .5 mile to Fox Gap (5) at PA 191. The Kirkridge shelter (sleeps six) lies straight ahead at mile nine (6). (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 (7) 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 (8); 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 (9), 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 (10). Slosh across and reach Council Rock (11) at mile 14.4. Descend .7 mile to the Lake Lenape trailhead (12) and your shuttle car.

Trip Planner
Shuttle car drop From Allentown, take US 22 19.7 miles to PA 33. Head 25.7 miles to I-80 E, then another four miles to PA 611. Merge onto Broad St., following signs for Delaware Water Gap. Turn left on Main St., then right on Mountain Rd. Leave shuttle car in lot on left.

To trailhead Return to PA 33. Go south five miles to Wind Gap. Exit left, then turn left at the AT marker. Gear up Get last-minute supplies like duct tape, batteries, and fuel at Cramer's Home Center (519 N. Broadway, Wind Gap, PA; 610-863-6064).

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