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The best adventures in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a beautiful park, full of day hikes, canoeing and kayaking, and sightseeing opportunities.

By: Ethan Constable + Save to a List

With almost 70,000 acres of protected area, the Delaware Water Gap N.R.A is a gem located in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I am fortunate to live next to this beautiful area that attracts nearly 5 million people each year. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

1. Get out on the water

A person on a red kayak is floating on a lake with trees surrounding the shore.
Photo: Margo Schmiederer

The Delaware River runs through the park and is the main attraction. People visit to paddle the waterway on day trips or for mult-day adventures.

There are many canoe and kayak rental companies if you want to take a river day trip through the park. Edge of the Woods Outfitters is a great canoe livery company that offers fair prices and an overall fantastic experience. I suggest going on an overnight canoe trip during the fall or spring. The park tends to get crowded on the weekends in the summer, so plan accordingly. 

Paddle Milford Beach to Smithsfield Launch - 15 miles point-to-point
Take a few days to paddle and camp along this 15-mile route past beaches, mountains, and along rapids. Start paddling downstream from Milford Beach for 12-13 miles until you reach campsites to spend the night. Day two, paddle 6-7 miles to Walpack Bend where you can pull off at a large campsite on the New Jersey side. Expect heavier traffic here from various boats and campers, so arrive early to snag a spot. 

On day three, kayak 8 miles to Smithsfield Launch. This section has some more challenging rapids, so make sure you're experienced enough to maneuver through the fast-moving water. IF you're not feeling confident, stop after two days and end your trip at Walpack Bend.

2. Explore waterfalls

Delaware water gap hiking offers many opportunities to check out waterfalls. If you google waterfalls in the the Delaware Water Gap N.R.A, Bushkill Falls will most likely be the first thing that comes up. While this is a nice place, you have to pay for it and it gets way too crowded. 

Raymondskill Falls - 0.6 mile out-and-back with 178 feet of elevation gain
My favorite falls in the park is Raymondskill Falls. Located near the northern-most part of the park, Raymondskill Falls is the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania, made up of three sections for a total of 150 feet of falls. Head to the upper viewing area to see the upper pool, and the lower area for a better view of the entire falls. There are restrooms in the upper parking lot, but the path is steep and uneven so it's not a great place for strollers or other mobility devices.

Note: Swimming and wading are not allowed under the falls or within 50 feet of them. Food and pets are not allowed on this hike or at the falls. 

Buttermilk Falls - 

George W. Child's Park


3. Go hiking

Mt. Tammany - 2.3 mile out and back hike with 1115 feet of elevation gain
Probably one of the most popular hikes is to hike to the top of Mt. Tammany, located on the New Jersey side of the river. This is a moderate/difficult hike that takes about and hour and a half to reach the top with a 1250 foot elevation gain. The view from the top offers one of the most scenic views of the park. Take the red-dot trail to the top and then the blue-dot trail back to the bottom.

Cliff Park Ridge - 6.4 miles out-and-back with 700 feet of elevation gain
Close by Raymondskill falls is my favorite hike in the park, Cliff Park Ridge. This hike offers stunning views of the upper lands of the park, as well as the Delaware river. This dog-friendly trail is wide and flat, and rises slowly. 

There are seemingly endless things to do in this park, from camping on the Delaware River, to hiking to the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania. 

I recommend visiting in the summer during the weekday, or anytime in the fall. You will not get bored in this great park located just two hours from Philadelphia and New York City. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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