Hiking in Delaware Water Gap

It’s a beautiful October weekend as I explored Delaware Water Gap, a destination that’s on almost every top-X hiking list of Northeastern US. And it’s the best time of the year when rolling hills put on their most vivid autumn colors, a most spectacular feast before brutal lifeless winter took over.

Mount Minsi by Delaware River


Mount Minsi by Delaware River



It seemed like a crude joke that the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey was marked a river named after another state, Delaware, that’s in this case, 100 miles away by car. And because Delaware River sort of carved it way through a continuous mountain ridge, there are two hiking trails in the Delaware Water Gap area, Mount Minsi in Pennsylvania and Mount Tammany in New Jersey. Spoiler alert, the latter had much larger parking lots and arguably much better views.

Mount Minsi

I stayed with some friends in New Jersey for the previous night, so I could sleep comfortably late on the hiking day and, after a two-hour drive through New Jersey’s beautiful countryside, I was at trailhead of Mt. Minsi at 11am.

Entrance Road


Entrance Road

Parking was very limited on such a beautiful autumn weekend at what Google Maps called “Mt. Minsi – Appalachian Trail Parking”, as the narrow entrance road in the photo above would be filled with parked vehicles by the time I returned. Later, I found that what Google Maps called “Resort Point Overlook” could also serve as overflow parking, and with a supposedly existent footpath on maps, it wouldn’t add any hiking distance at all.

Trail

 Trail
Trail

The 8-kilometer Mount Minsi trail consists of two parts, the more accessible “Lake Road” to the West and the rocky Appalachian trail to the East. Because “Lake Road” was technically a “road”, it was wide and mostly level. One could in theory push a stroller close to the lookout point of Mount Minsi (but not actually there, I saw one that day). I chose to hike the rocky trail up and take the “Lake Road” down.
And here’s GPS tracking.

Lenape Lake

 Lenape Lake
Lenape Lake
A lake that’s close to the trailhead.

Trail

 Trail
Trail

Plants


Plants

Boulders

 Boulders
Boulders

Trail in Forest

 Trail in Forest
Trail in Forest

Tree


Tree

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail
Sceneries along the first part of trail iterated between trees (left) and shrub (right).

Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color

Fern

 Fern
Fern

Eureka Creek


Eureka Creek
Not much water flowing around for the season.

Twisted Trees


Twisted Trees

Barren Tree

 Dying Trees in Forest
Dying Trees in Forest

About 45 minutes and 2 kilometers into my adventure, I encountered the first (and best, in my opinion) vista along Mount Minsi Trail, which was called “Lookout Rock”.
Well, a more accurate statement was that “Lookout Rock” was on a spur rather than the main Mount Minsi Trail, but it’s nonetheless hard to miss.

Mount Tammany across River


Mount Tammany across River
Mount Tammany across River

Hill in Autumn Colors


Hill in Autumn Colors

Hill across River


Hill across River

Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color

Leaves with Stain


Leaves with Stain
Withering signs.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

A little bit over an hour into my excursion, I arrived at “Minsi Lookout” with views of Mount Tammany across Delaware River. This lookout should have better views than “Lookout Rock”, but unfortunately views here were much obscured by trees.

Mount Tammany


Mount Tammany

While “Minsi Lookout” with its many rocks was the perfect resting ground for many families, I went a farther 500 meters to the peak of Mount Minsi with another vista, as indicated by AllTrails.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color

Trail


Trail
The last 50 meters before the vista was on wide thoroughfare like this, which amazingly was part of Appalachian.

Unfortunately, the final vista was facing South, away from the magnificent rocks of Mount Tammany. So although views of distant fields were nice, they weren’t as exciting as those from previous vistas.

Delaware River and Distant Mountain Ranges


Delaware River and Distant Mountain Ranges
Delaware River and Distant Mountain Ranges

So I had a quick lunch watching the winding Delaware River, before heading back to parking lot.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

Forest


Forest

Mount Tammany


Mount Tammany

Trail


Trail
The final part of trail leading up to Minsi Lookout was under canopies of shrubs like these.

As mentioned before, for downhill I chose “Lake Road”, with its beautiful combination of lush scrubs and golden trees. However, it’s sort of both mesmerizing and mundane, given it’s 3 kilometers long and had no viewpoints whatsoever. For the good part, unlike the Appalachian trail that I took for the uphill part, it was mostly level and not as rocky. I guessed this path started out as a fire road, but eventually scrubs along it grew too much that it was no longer accessible by vehicles.

Trail

 Lake Road
Lake Road Lake Road
Lake Road

Lake Road

 Lake Road
Lake Road Lake Road
Lake Road

Lake Road

 Lake Road
Lake Road Lake Road
Lake Road

Lake Road

 Lake Road
Lake Road Lake Road
Lake Road

Plants


Plants

Lake Road

 Lake Road
Lake Road Lake Road
Lake Road Lake Road
Lake Road

Leaves in Autumn Color

 Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color

Forest

 Forest
Forest

Towards the end of the hike I saw a spur on map leading to “Antoine Dutot Homestead”, which was some ancient (by American standards) ruins. However, after going back and forth off trail for some time I didn’t find that path in real world. So after capturing the following picture of some fallen trees in a shape resembleing teepee backbones, which was hopefully close enough to a “homestead”, I left in satisfaction.

Fallen Trees


Fallen Trees

Roadside Overlooks

On the Pennsylvania side of Delaware River there was a scenic drive with many roadside overlooks of Mount Tammany across river. (It’s interstate 80 on the New Jersey side, building overlooks along which would not be as feasible.) Since I still have plenty time left behind sunset, I decided to pay them a visit.

Point of Gap Overlook

Arguably the one with the best views. They even built a viewing platform slightly above roadway for photo lovers.

Mount Tammany


Mount Tammany
Mount Tammany

Rocks


Rocks Rocks
Rocks

Arrow Island Overlook

Named after a nearby island in Delaware River. Ironically it was quite overgrown here and there weren’t any views of the island.

Mount Tammany


Mount Tammany

Road

 Road
Road

Resort Point Overlook

This would be the perfect overflow parking for Mount Minsi trail, with views of, en, Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge…

Hill by Delaware River


Hill by Delaware River

After that, I took some rest at the nearby Pennsylvania Welcome Center by having another lunch, before crossing into New Jersey for Mount Tammany.

Mount Tammany

On the New Jersey side where views are better and parking lots are plentiful. The bad thing was that, Mount Tammany Trail was very rocky for the most part, and since I was only wearing sneakers and had already done Mount Minsi trails before, my feet weren’t as comfortable.

Trees at Parking Lot


Trees at Parking Lot

Here’s GPS tracking.

Trail

 Trail
Trail

Rocks


Rocks

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path

Tree

 Twisted Tree
Twisted Tree

If taken counter-clockwise, the first viewpoint was only 15 minutes from the start, with fantastic views of Delaware River and Arrow Island.

Delaware River and Arrow Island


Delaware River and Arrow Island

Hill of Mount Tammany


Hill of Mount Tammany

Delaware River


Delaware River

Arrow Island


Arrow Island

Bird Flying


Bird Flying

And I happened to capture this bird (hopefully it’s an eagle) flying by. With some rocks in the foreground, it just took some haystack underneath and a world of fantasy before taking a leap of faith like in Assassin’s Creed.

Mount Minsi by Delaware River


Mount Minsi by Delaware River
Mount Minsi by Delaware River
Mount Minsi by Delaware River
Mount Minsi by Delaware River

After that, it’s more than half an hour of ascent through rocky terrain to the summit of Mount Tammany. From here on the trail was much less crowded as most families seemed to be heading back after the first overlook.

Fallen Tree


Fallen Tree

Tree by Trail


Tree by Trail

Forest

 Forest
Forest

Trees

 Barren Tree
Barren Tree
The lifeless branches in the foreground looked pretty solemn.

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path Rocky Path
Rocky Path

Leaves in Autumn Color


Leaves in Autumn Color Leaves in Autumn Color
Leaves in Autumn Color

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path Rocky Path
Rocky Path

Location of Overlooks


Location of Overlooks
There were two overlooks (red rectangles) near the top of Mount Tammany, both along some (almost) vertical cliff faces. The first one (left) was larger in size and depth, and the second one (right) was rockier. Since only the second one was on the map, that’s where most people were going, including me.

Village of Delaware Water Gap among Forest


Village of Delaware Water Gap among Forest

Mansion among Forest


Mansion among Forest

Rocky Descent


Rocky Descent
To get the perfect shot.

Mount Minsi by Delaware River


Mount Minsi by Delaware River
Mount Minsi by Delaware River

View from Mount Tammany


View from Mount Tammany

Point of Gap Overlook Parking Lot


Point of Gap Overlook Parking Lot

Distant Mountain Ranges

 Distant Mountain Ranges
Distant Mountain Ranges

Delaware River


Delaware River
Delaware River

Mount Minsi


Mount Minsi
Mount Minsi
Mount Minsi

Summit of Mount Minsi


Summit of Mount Minsi

Some drizzle interrupted my photo shooting on top of Mount Tammany, so I stayed about 30 minutes on top of Mount Tammany before heading downhill along Blue Dot Trail.
But on the good side, passing rain brought transient beauty, with the contrast between clouds and distant glows really made good pictures.

Trail

 Trail
Trail

Trail


Trail
Plants were rather colorful here.

Flowers


Flowers

Distant Fields

 Distant Fields
Distant Fields
(right) DSM Nutritional Products factory in the center. This is at the intersection of Mount Tammany fire road and blue dot trail.

Fern


Fern

Barren Trees


Barren Trees

After a day five hours of hiking and getting somehow accustomed to the flat and even “Lake Road” of Mount Minsi, the rocky downhill path of Blue Dot Trail turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected. A silver lining was that sceneries this time were much better, at least they were evolving.

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path Rocky Path
Rocky Path

Forest

 Forest
Forest Forest
Forest

Fern

 Fern
Fern

Rocky Path

 Rocky Path
Rocky Path Rocky Path
Rocky Path

Berries


Berries
As reminded by a fellow hiker, luckily there were no bears around.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

Forest

 Forest
Forest

Forking Trails


Forking Trails
Where blue dot trail meets Dunfield Creek.

Then the last kilometer to the parking lot was along Dunfield Creek. As usual there weren’t much water flowing around in this season, but the suffering of treading through rocks had finally ended.

Leaning Trees


Leaning Trees

Waterfall on Dunfield Creek


Waterfall on Dunfield Creek

Footbridge


Footbridge

Trees

 Trees
Trees

Dunfield Creek

 Dunfield Creek
Dunfield Creek

Leaves in Autumn Color


Leaves in Autumn Color

Autumn Leaves on Dunfield Creek


Autumn Leaves on Dunfield Creek

Dunfield Creek

 Valley of Dunfield Creek
Valley of Dunfield Creek

Trail

 Trail
Trail

Dunfield Creek


Dunfield Creek

Trail

 Trail
Trail

Dunfield Creek

 Dunfield Creek
Dunfield Creek

Riverside

Before I left, I stopped by the visitor center on New Jersey side of Delaware River. Since there was a river access / boat launch site nearby, I snapped a few photos of these hills in vivid colors for the last time.

Mount Tammany from Delaware River


Mount Tammany from Delaware River

Forestry Hill


Forestry Hill

View of Mount Minsi from Delaware River


View of Mount Minsi from Delaware River

Rock Face of Mount Tammany


Rock Face of Mount Tammany

 Forestry Hill


Forestry Hill

Conclusion

Before I went, I saw comments online that said hiking both Mount Minsi and Mount Tammany in one day would be challenging. Well, it’s not. I arrived at Delaware Water Gap at 11am so that’s not particular early. And even with the (too) many photos that I took along the way, I managed to finish both trails in three hours each, and reached Mount Tammany parking lot before sunset (6:20pm-ish).
Apart from “Lake Road” on Mount Minsi and “Dunfield Creek” part of Mount Tammany, the rest of the trails were on rocks and boulders which challenging for those that went in with gym gear (like me). But one should feel well rewarded with sceneries along the way, especially the Mount Tammany part in this best time of year.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Hiking in Delaware Water Gap by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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