Philadelphians often speak of the Delaware River. It's a Philadelphia border, of course they know what it is! But adventures? I am not talking about tall ships or rubber ducks here, Philadelphia. Do you know how long the Delaware River actually is? Wikipedia tells me it is 301 miles long. That’s a lot of miles left unexplored if you only stick to Philadelphia’s portion of the Delaware. I don't blame you, I didn't really start getting out there until last week. But I do have two activities for you to try if you want to branch out river puns!
In the nature of finally getting out there and doing what makes me happy, I've got a hike for you as well as a bike. How exciting, no?
Exploring the Delaware River
Hiking the Delaware Water Gap
So Emily and I have progressed from grad school friends to hiking friends. So I thank her for this idea. Or I guess we can thank NJ Hikes for this "Mind the Gap" idea. Hiking one mountain was not enough, we wanted to hike two mountains in the same day. Mt Tammany and Mt Minsi. These two mountains are on either side of the Delaware River, Tammany in NJ and Minsi in PA.
We started on the New Jersey side at one of the Mount Tammany parking lots. There IS a Porta Potty at the lower parking lot, so if you are not digging peeing in the woods, you are covered. Although that thing sure is smellier than the woods.
We followed the red dot trail around to the summit. Well. Wait. As usual, I like to do things backwards. We actually started at the blue trail, which is along some water. It joins up with the red dot trail and we followed it from there. So this hike is about 3.5 miles. If you do it the way we did it, you have an uphill climb (obviously), but it's pretty much a trail. However, that means you have to descend down large rocks. I think most of the guides say to do the exact opposite, and I might agree.
Once that loop is done, you have to actually hop back into your car and drive to Mt Minsi's parking area. (Although, if you want lunch, those picnic tables at Mt Tammany are nice!) It's about a 10 minute drive and you DO have to pay a toll. So just be prepared for that! I believe it was $1. From there, you'll really just follow the white blazes. There's a small stream crossing and (of course) some more scrambling, but it's not a bad hike at all. This one's a little bit longer at around 5 miles.
Once you reach the peak, you can turn around and go the way you came. You'll also cross a fire road that you can take straight back to the parking lot. This way is much less scenic, but our legs were thankful for the gradual decline. Just watch your footing, because it can get a bit pebbly in spots!
So in total, we hiked around 9 miles. It didn't take nearly as long as we thought, but it was definitely a lot of up and a lot of down. So it was a challenge for those legs! But it is very doable to just do one as well.
Biking the D&R Canal Path
Ah but you want to depend on wheels, not your feet? Or are you just back for more? So now we grab our bikes and move a bit further south along the river. To a place called the Delaware & Raritan Canal Path.
My dad and I were coming from different directions, so we met at the Lambertville Station in Lambertville, NJ. There is an inn right there along the river. I think technically there is no public parking there. But I told the parking attendant what I was doing, and she just let me drive on in. So don't yell at me if you can't park there! But this is a super convenient place to park because the Lambertville station also has bathrooms that you can use before you set out.
Once you set out (the trail is set a little farther back from the river here, behind the station), it's a straight shot up to Frenchtown (also in New Jersey)! I had a road bike, while my dad had his mountain bike. If you're on a road bike, I definitely recommend carrying a spare tube or two! But the trail is definitely manageable. It is set up with mile markers along the way, so it's easy to keep track of distance. There are benches to stop along the path for a snack, but not exactly an abundance of bathrooms. So just plan ahead for that!
When you reach Frenchtown, you'll know it because there is a restaurant right along the path. Coffee, ice cream, and food for refueling can be found here. There are also a ton of shops. We went during the week, and it wasn't exactly "hopping," but we were also there around noon. My dad kept asking if Lorelai Gilmore was going to walk over to us, if that gives you an indication of the small town feel. Or of the level of obsession that my sister and I had over Gilmore Girls.
Once you're done meandering, you can hop back on the trail and go back the way you came. Or you can always cross the river to the PA side. There's actually a path that takes you back on that side too. Just be prepared in your planning, that is called the Delaware & Lehigh (D&L) Trail on that side.
As a disclaimer, the Delaware & Raritan Canal Trail runs for about 70 miles. So this can be done in a lot of places along the river! My dad and I specifically biked from Lambertville, NJ to Frenchtown, NJ. It was 32 miles round trip. There are so many small towns that you can check out along the Delaware River, in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, if you want to alter your trip.
Which adventure sounds more fun to you? Have you explored any part of the Delaware RIver?