11 Best Things to Do in the Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is one of the best places for outdoor experiences in the United States. We have had a home near the Delaware Water Gap for many years and have spent countless hours hiking, kayaking, and exploring the area. Winter, summer, spring and fall, the Gap has plenty to do. It’s a great weekend from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or wherever you’re from.
There are over 70,000 acres in the Gap. Go to a popular place with a lot of people or find yourself alone in the woods.
Here are some of the best outdoor experiences in the ditch.
1. Visit the Pocono Environmental Education Center
There are hundreds of hikes to do in the Gap – some easy, some difficult, and some intermediate. The Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is one of the most suitable places for families. PEEC offers a family camp weekend as well as workshops on orienteering, cross-country skiing, hiking, natural history and more.
Pro tip: Pack a picnic when you go to PEEC. There isn’t a very close place for food and it’s a lot more fun to have a picnic.
2. Find Silver Spray Falls
If you love waterfalls, the Gap won’t disappoint. The most popular are Buttermilk, Raymondskill, Hornbeck / Upper Indian Ladders, Silver Thread, and Dingmans Falls. These are all wonderful falls to see and they are crowded. For an off-the-beaten-path waterfall experience, seek out Silver Spray Falls (also known as Hidden Falls). It’s not far from the much more popular Buttermilk Scraps and most people never see them.
Pro tip: There are a lot of downed trees on the way to the waterfall. You will need good hiking shoes and trekking poles to find the falls. Park near the Buttermilk Falls. Find the intersection of Houck Lane and Mountain Road. If you walk towards Buttermilk you will see a path on the left. It is best to search for it on the map first so that you get an idea of where you are going.
3. Fishing on the Delaware River
We live on a lake and can fish directly from our dock. To be honest, we catch about one fish a year. We have a lot of friends who are avid fishermen. There are tons of lakes to fish in the Gap. If you go fishing, try fishing in the Delaware River. One of the best places to launch your boat is Milford Beach in Pike County, Pennsylvania. There is also a small boat launch just after crossing the Dingmans Ferry Bridge in PA. There are many places to launch a boat upstream, or you can hire a boat.
Pro tip: You need a license to fish in Delaware. You need to determine whether you are going to fish on the New Jersey or Pennsylvania side to make sure you have the correct license. Be sure to check the specific regulations for each state. Stop Pike County Outfitters in Milford, PA for bait, supplies and more fishing information.
4. Cycle along the Delaware River in the fall
The McDade Trail runs along the Delaware River for over 30 miles. Sections of it are very good for cycling. In late fall, after the leaves have fallen, you will easily see great views of the Delaware River. If you are there in the summer or spring you can still see Delaware in some places, but there are lots of trees between the trail and the water.
Pro tip: Avoid the area between the White Pines and Pittman Orchard trailheads – there is no biking there. If you don’t want to ride a bike, the McDade Trail is a good place to hike.
5. Canoe or kayak The Gap
One of the most peaceful ways to explore the Gap is by kayaking or canoeing. You try it on the lakes or in the river itself. There are many companies that provide kayaks and canoes. Some of them take multi-day trips that include camping. The park doesn’t rent kayaks or canoes, but try a few external suppliers.
6. Swim at Milford Beach
In the Gap, you always have a choice of doing something in a lake or doing something in Delaware itself. Care should be taken in lakes, especially those in national parks. Some locals will swim in the pools near the waterfalls although this is not allowed. It’s tempting, but you might get a ticket. Try swimming in the Delaware River. Milford Beach has a lifeguard and is one of the safest places to swim in the river. There are also wonderful views from the beach. There are public toilets at Milford Beach.
Pro tip: There are dangerous currents in the Delaware River, so we recommend that you only swim if there is a lifeguard on duty and wear a life jacket at all times.
7. Learn to Cross-Country Ski or Snowshoe at High Point State Park
Technically, High point, New Jersey’s highest point, is just outside of the Delaware Water Gap. At over 1,800 feet, the view of the Delaware River that winds between New Jersey and Pennsylvania is worth seeing. High Point is a good place to learn cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The trail system is easy to follow.
Pro tip: It can get crowded at High Point Park. If you go there on a weekday it will be a lot less crowded.
8. See the change of season at Milford Knob
The Delaware Water Gap is a great place to see the seasons change, whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall. Our favorite place to see the seasons change is from the top of the Milford Knob Trail, where you can see the colors changing along the Delaware River for miles. Or check out the easier-to-climb Cliff Trail which joins up with Milford Knob lookout for spectacular views of Milford.
Pro tip: Milford Knob hike is steep and uneven. You will need hiking boots and a walking stick. Also bring water and bug spray.
9. Camp in the ditch
There are campsites all over the Delaware Water Gap. Since the Appalachian Trail crosses the Gap, there is backcountry camping for hikers on the trail. There is also Furnished campgrounds at Dingmans Campground, Mohican Outdoor Center and Worthington State Forest. In addition, there are river campsites for kayakers and canoeists. Some campsites are open all year round but many close for the winter.
Open year-round, the Mohican Outdoor Center offers self-service cabins for rent if you’re not ready to camp. You will need to bring your own sleeping bags and towels although the center will provide towels. Activities available at the center include wooded hikes with several trails of varying levels, waterfalls and wetlands, paddle ponds, swimming holes and fishing.
Pro tip: Reserve your place in advance as they fill up quickly.
10. Learn the history of the gap on Old Mine Road
One of the most scenic drives in Gap is along Old Mine Road. It’s a small road that stretches south of Milford Beach along the Delaware River for miles. It is a wonderful walk in the fall or any time of the year. There are a number of historic sites along the route including Millbrook Village, Walpack Center, and Minisink Dutch Reformed Church which dates back to 1737.
Pro tip: If you make this trip south to north you can end in Milford for a nice lunch or go to Milford Beach for a swim. You can also bring a picnic with you during the ride.
11. Take a scenic drive on Route 209
If hiking, biking, or canoeing isn’t quite your cup of tea, take a scenic drive along US 209. Start in Milford, at the north end of the gap, and follow US 209 to Kittatinny Point. There are many stopping points along the route, where you can stop and explore. Take a short hike and take in the scenery.
Head inside and take home a unique gift from the Peters Valley School of Craft
Peters Valley Craft School is at the south end of Old Mine Road. Stop by the school to explore its gift shop. It offers handcrafted jewelry, metalwork, ceramics and more. If you are inspired, you can sign up for a weekend workshop on how to carve wood, dye fabrics, glassblowing, blacksmithing, making fine metal jewelry and other handicrafts.
Pro tip: The class schedule comes out in the winter / early spring and the most popular classes can be booked quickly.
The Delaware Water Gap is an outdoor playground for people of all ages. Come and discover the time of an afternoon, an evening, a weekend or more.
There are many sites in the Philadelphia area to visit: