I’ve always been a fan of hiking. I’ve been up and down the trails of Mahlon Dickerson dozens of times. I’ve explored multiple nature destinations across New Jersey as well as in Pennsylvania and New York, but in the many years of hiking, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a view quite as unique and surreal as the one on the top of Mount Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap. If you’re like me and your walks around the neighborhood started to feel a bit redundant, maybe it’s time to take your pair of hiking shoes to somewhere new, too.
How to Prepare for the Hike
Before you even get to the parking lot of the Delaware Water Gap hiking trails, you have to prepare a few things in advance. First, you must choose a date to go. Make sure the weather isn’t unbearably hot or humid and that it’s not going to rain that day.
Once you figure out when you’re going, you have to figure out how to get there. A quick search on a navigation app should help, but it may be a little unclear since there are multiple hiking trails in the area. Make sure to search for Mount Tammany Parking. It’s right before the last exit before you enter Pennsylvania on I-80 W, and it’s about a 45 minute ride from the Jefferson Township Library.
Most importantly, you must have the right supplies packed with you. Using a lightweight backpack, you should bring sunscreen, bug spray, a few nutritious snacks, and three or four water bottles per person, particularly on a sunny day. Although the trees block out a lot of the sun and there weren’t too many bugs on my hike, you should still pack sunscreen and bug spray and have it on hand just in case it becomes necessary.
One afternoon, my friend, Chloe, and I finally decided to go on this hike. She had been there before, but I hadn’t. I saw the pictures she took, though, and thought the view looked so cool that I had to go. After the ride there where we almost missed the turn and nearly ended up in Pennsylvania, we got to the parking lot, which was only about half full. I was excited to find out from Chloe that, even on a holiday weekend when she went, the trails aren’t too crowded, allowing us to walk at our own pace without having to worry about passerbys.
When we began our walk up several sets of stairs, the heat hit me, and I remember joking about using an elevator to get to the top. Although there was no elevator, Chloe and I quickly adjusted to the heat and the sets of stairs soon turned into hundreds of rocks, which, despite being a little more dangerous, were much more fun to climb on. This continued for nearly an hour until the red trail began to level out and flatten for the remaining 30 minutes left in the climb. Sometimes, the trail would branch off at a couple of points, but it was easy to follow the right path with many red dotted marks scattered along the way.
Right before we got to the top, a snake slithered out of the way of the path. Chloe jumped up, terrified, but the snake was harmless, and we immediately continued on. Afterwards, I remember seeing warning signs about snakes at the bottom and not thinking much of it. I’m sure they’re not a rarity if there are signs up for them, but they probably don’t show up too often along the path. Otherwise, no one would go on this hike.
If you can make it pass the snakes slithering across the path, the view is completely worth it. After about an hour and a half climb, Chloe and I finally made it to the impressive sight. A mountain stood high and mighty in the middle of the great, wide Delaware River. Beyond it all, the sky finished the almost surreal art piece with sunlight bursting behind the clouds. A picture of it couldn’t truly capture its full beauty. It was something you could only see if you make the trip up there yourself.
Chloe and I sat on the hundreds of rocks looking out onto this view and ate some of the snacks we packed. Once we fully hydrated and felt replenished, we started on our way down the blue trail. This trail was easier, both going up and down it, according to the Delaware Water Gap website. We thought it was a good way to reward ourselves after the harder climb up.
The way down was pretty calm and a lot more talkative since we weren’t catching our breath the whole time like we were on the way up, but before we reached the bottom, we ran into a brief bear scare. I’m not sure if it was our luck or if the Delaware Water Gap is known for its abundant wildlife population, but the hikers ahead of us told us to stop because they thought they saw a bear. We cautiously looked around and made loud noises to scare the bear away, and it fortunately never showed up. Chloe was comforted in the fact that, if there was actual trouble, the reception along most of the path was pretty good, and we could have called for help.
Our final destination along the blue trail was a little waterfall near the parking lot. Although we weren’t sure if it was actually allowed, other hikers were swimming around in the stream, but regardless of whether you went swimming in it or not, the stream was a nice resting place before departing home.
In total, the hike was 3.5 miles. Although plenty of people are capable of climbing up to the view, it isn’t a stroll in the park, and it might not be for everyone. If you want to do a hike at the Delaware Water Gap and aren’t sure about this particular hike, there are a few alternatives.
If you still want to get to the view, you can take the blue trail both up and down, but be aware, it still is a strenuous hike. Otherwise, “you can go to the far end of the parking lot, head over the bridge, and walk along Dunnfield Creek on the Appalachian Trail,” according to www.njhiking.com. Even though this trail won’t get you to Mount Tammany, it is still a great area to walk around.
On top of the many hiking trails, the Delaware Water Gap also offers a few beach locations that have lifeguards on duty on the weekends from mid-June through August. There are two beach locations in Pennsylvania at Milford Beach and Smithfield Beach, but the closest one is in New Jersey at Turtle Beach. According to the National Park Service website, this beach “is located six miles north of i-80 on Old Mine Road. This area offers a grassy beach complete with picnic tables and restrooms.” If you’re interested, more information can be found on their website.
The hike was all around a great experience. Chloe and I enjoyed it immensely and hope to go back with more friends soon. It’s nice to occasionally step outside your daily life, walk through nature, and enjoy what it has to offer, and I highly recommend that, if you do decide to walk through nature, you choose this refreshing experience up to Mount Tammany.