Where: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, near Millbrook, Warren County
When: Sunday, March 8th, from 8am to 3pm.
What: Hiking (and a little fishing) the Van Campens Brook Trail, Watergate Pond Recreation Area, Millbrook Village and the Upper Hamilton Trail.
Weather: 44-degrees when we got there. It was near 60 by the time we left. Wind probably around 10 mph coming out of the NE.
I have been fishing in the state of New Jersey for as long as I can remember. I have sat on the beach on the Jersey Shore from Long Branch to Cape May and have fished in just about every lake that I have heard of. I thought that I had seen just about all that New Jersey had to offer.
In the middle of July of last summer, I took an eight and a half hour hike through Worthington Sate Forest with my girlfriend, and began to get a sense of just how much more there was to see.
For the second time in only a few of weeks, I found myself in a car driving up Old Mine Rd. along the Delaware River. My girlfriend and I had our backpacks, a bunch of water, our cameras and a two-piece fishing rod, and were ready for our next adventure in what is quickly becoming one of our favorite hobbies. We arrived at the Van Campens Glen parking lot just before 8, and there was no one around. For a few hours on Sunday morning, we were completely alone in the forest. We did not see another human being for another 5 hours.
We hiked up the Van Campens Brook Trail north towards Watergate Pond and Millbrook Village. We tried fishing with trout magnets in the pools along the way, but I think that it is still a bit to cold for even the trout. I have to say that this hike far exceeded my expectations. I had no idea that anything like this existed in New Jersey. We came across beatiful, deep pools and more than one set of spectacular falls. There were places where the brook cut deep into the rock and places where it slid sharply over huge stones.
We stopped for a bit at Watergate Pond, doing a little fishing and a little eating near a lake that I was standing on when it was frozen less than three weeks earlier. After a short while, the fishing rod was in the backpack, and we were once again walking north.
About a half of a mile north of the pond, we came to Millbrook Village, which has not had any inhabitants for some time, but has been restored and is open to tourists. We snapped a few pics, peeped through a few of the windows, and continued on our way.
We picked up the Orchard Trail north of the village, which can be a little difficult to find. I would suggest to anyone taking this hike to continue North on Old Mine Rd. and the trailhead will quickly come up on your left. After a short distance on the Orchard Trail and a few ticks on our pants, we came to the Upper Hamilton Trail and were headed back down to our ride home. The two mile hike back to the car was uneventful compared to the rest of the day, but the forest was simply beautiful, and the slow walk made it easy to enjoy the good company.
I have been on a handful of hikes with a handful of people since I started seriously hiking New Jersey a little less than a year ago. Much like fishing, different things can come into play, making each trip a unique and very different experience. This past Sunday was one of those rare but cherished times where simply everything was right, and made for an absolutely perfect day.