Thursday, August 30, 2012

Delaware Water Gap

We are now parked in about the middle of the Pocono Mountains, outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  They are for sure not the large mountains which we encountered out west, here the Poconos seem more like large wooded hills.  However, there is still a lot of natural beauty to be found in this area.  We spent yesterday at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area.  This park stretches for 40 miles along the middle Delaware River in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.   At the southern end of this park the river cuts an S-curved pass through the mountains, forming the Delaware Gap.  The 200 miles of scenic roads wander through valleys, ridges and ravines where there are many opportunities to off  the road and hike.  Many waterfalls, which pour off the Pocono Plateau, can be found along the park's trails.  Our first problem, once we entered the park, was deciding which waterfalls to see.  We had to consider the length of the trails into the waterfalls as well as how much climbing was needed in order to view them.  After stopping at one of the visitor's centers and consulting with a forest ranger, we headed out on what turned out to be a very delightful day.  Our first stop was at Dingmans Falls, the second-highest waterfall in the state.  This is one of the more accessible falls, and a boardwalk leads to it.
A park ranger warned us, before we started out, that Hurricane Irene last year did considerable damage to the park, some roads are now closed.  At Dingman Falls we noticed that part of the boardwalk had recently been replaced.  We can only imagine how a torrential rain could turn the falls into a monstrous flowing swath of destruction!  Our next stop was Raymondskill Falls which has upper, middle and lower sections to it.
Hackers Falls is near Raymondskill Falls so that was our next and final stop of the day.  It was the most difficult of the trails we had been on.  Getting to them meant walking over narrow rocky paths which mainly went uphill.   Fortunately it was a cool day with little humidity. The forest was also cool with its towering hemlocks and hardwoods.  It is a very moist woods so ferns as well as colorful mushrooms dot the forest floor.  The Hacker Falls are beautiful with their bridal-veil type cascade, and it was worth the effort hiking to them.  We did not want to return on the same trail back to our car so we made a quick decision to take the longer path, which a forest ranger recommended.  On this trail we walked along the Poconos' steep ravines over which we could view Delaware River's valley and western shore.  This is called the Tri State Overlook, where it is possible to see New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  By this time the shadows were lengthening and we needed to get out of the park before darkness fell. 

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