When we were visiting the Poconos Mountains in July 2013, we often traveled Route 209 north through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Usually, we were heading to the Walmart in Milford about 20 miles away. But, upon occasion, we would head in the other direction and enjoyed some spectacular scenery.
There is no fee to drive through the Gap; however, if you plan to stop — even to take pictures — you’ll have to pay the “expanded amenity fee schedule of $7 per vehicle weekdays and $10 on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
Fees are required when stopping in any of these areas:
- Milford Beach (in Pennsylvania)
- Dingmans Access (in Pennsylvania)
- Bushkill Access (in Pennsylvania)
- Smithfield Beach (in Pennsylvania)
- Watergate Recreation Site (in New Jersey)
- Turtle Beach (in New Jersey)
The picture above is one of the fee collection buildings at either end of Rt. 209.
During our journey, we enjoyed traveling south to the area of the Delaware River that is the actual “Water Gap.” Two mountains about 1,500 feet high are on either side of the river at the Gap.
There are ample hiking and kayaking opportunities at the park. In fact, last year the park celebrated its 50th anniversary and marked the occasion with a 50 miles for 50 years challenge where people can hike, bike and paddle along the hundreds of miles of trails in the park.
Some of the trails are steep, rising about 1,300 feet, which proved too much for us. But other hikes are easy to navigate for people of all ages. To view a list of 14 different hikes recommended by the park, click here.
We crossed over and headed west on I-80 where the Appalachian Trail goes alongside the highway until it crosses at a bridge and continues south to Springer Mountain in Georgia. The Appalachian Trail, or “AT” as hikers call it, actually starts in Maine at Mount Katahdin and covers a distance of 2,200 miles.
Yes, there are bears up here. So be “bear aware” and use bear-proof trash containers along the trails, carry a whistle or hang things from a backpack that clang together warning bears of your presence. Bear spray may also be a good idea and you can pick some up on Amazon for about $30 per can.
In addition to the park headquarters, there are three additional visitors centers in The Gap. There you can find maps and park information in addition to food, water and souvenirs.
Because parts of the park are not open year round, it’s a good idea to check the park’s website for hours of operation, which change based on time of year and demand. Click here for information about the visitors centers.
The water in the Pennsylvania part of the Delaware Gap is quite clear, and often chilly. But, swimming the park is allowed at three lifeguarded beaches.
The area is also well known for its waterfalls. Silverthread falls is on a trail behind the Dingman’s Ferry Visitor Center. Dingman’s Ferry was an early crossing of the river and could accommodate horses as well as passengers.
This beautiful waterfall is Dingman’s Falls. It is about a mile down the trail and there is a well constructed walkway along the whole trail. This was the highlight of our day at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
History buffs will find plenty of things to explore within the park boundaries. In fact, the park’s recommended “scenic drive,” takes visitors past a number of old homes, cemeteries, mills, forts and commerce centers. For more information, click here.
There are three developed campgrounds at the park, and many other private campgrounds near the entrances. For information about camping in The Gap, click here.
For more information about Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, click here.