Sunday, January 12, 2014

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ - Van Campens Glen

Millbrook Village - National Park Service
Van Campens Glen - National Park Service (Link no longer works and unable to find any additional NPS information at this time.)
NPS Closures - National Park Service (States dirt roadway closed from Millbrook Village to Watergate but did not find this to be closed at the time of this hike.  There was a power line closure before Watergate, detour described below.)
Tocks Island Dam Project - Wikipedia
DePue Burying Ground - Find A Grave
Susquehanna-Roseland Power Line Construction - New Jersey Herald

Millbrook Village Parking GPS Coordinates 41.073833, -74.963142

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Millbrook Village Parking

Southern Kittatinny Trail Map 121 - NY/NJ Trail Conference
Delaware Water Gap NRA, NJ - Van Campens Glen at EveryTrail

8 miles - would be 7 miles without additional exploring along Delaware River

I did this hike in reverse on July 2, 2011.  A lot has changed since then and there is no accurate information online that I could find.  With power line construction through April 2014 things could change again from what I have shown here.

Walk out the parking lot drive near the restrooms, cross Millbrook-Flatbrook Road and take the woods road to ...
... the Orchard Trail.
Hairy Woodpecker
Lots of old stone walls along the Orchard Trail.
The Orchard Trail ends at the old paved Hamilton Ridge Trail.
The Hamilton Ridge Trail is supposed to be blazed blue but faded blue blazes are rare.  Just follow the old pavement.
Turn right on the orange-blazed Pioneer Trail.
An old lime kiln a few feet off of the trail on the right.
Nice winter views that you don't get in the summer.
Some roaring water heading down to the Delaware River through a beautiful gorge.  After 2 major snow storms then tropical thunderstorms since January 1, creeks were running at full blast.
The Pioneer Tail descends to follow the Delaware River from a level up.
There used to be a trail (shown on older maps) down to the river bank but I could not find it in the summer previously.  It is overgrown but possible to pick your way down in the winter.
Ice jams in the Delaware River.
Several campsites along the river.
We climbed up the very steep and slippery hill at the second campsite since there seemed to be a trail but after going in circles due to thorny overgrowth, ended up back at the same place.
Headed back along the top of what looks to be an old stone wall.  It was too steep and slippery to go back down to the river bank.
Back on the Pioneer Trail heading straight for construction in the power cut.
This part is open and you can cross over.
The Pioneer Trail continues on a gravel road coming in from the right.
There used to be old abandoned houses, old rusty vintage cars, all left behind during the Tocks Dam Project that never happened.  A year ago all of the abandoned houses were torn down and removed.
This is the exact same spot as it looks today versus how it looked on 7/2/11.
Another abandoned home.
Just before the gravel road turns left, look for a trail on the right to ...
The DePue Cemetery.  Older hike directions say to turn before a guardrail - that guardrail is now gone so you have to watch carefully for the path.
A short road walk on Old Mine Road to the Van Campens Picnic Area on the right - there used to be a sign but it is no longer there.
Unlocked and clean!  Hadn't expected that this time of year.
Head to the left opposite the restrooms towards the kiosk and pick up the yellow trail through Van Campens Glen.
This section required microspikes for me and assistance for Shawnee who kept sliding down on her rear end :(
A repurposed electrical line pole as a step
This whole section was slippery and wet and called for a break afterwards.
Some assistance needed to get up on the bridge.  She's turning 13 within the next month or two and this hike proved to be a bit too challenging for her now.
The raging water from the bridge.
Van Campens Falls - partially frozen but LOUD!

Looking back at the bridge from the top of the falls.
The trail ends at a paved path.  Turn left but there are no blazes.  After a short distance, just before the bridge, the trail leaves to the right where Shawnee is standing.  Again, no blazes.
If you continue on a few steps to the bridge first there is an old dam to the right.
Eventually the yellow blazes start up again.
But when you reach the power cut...
This is the part that is currently closed.
Turn left and cross the rickety bridge.
Hang a right on Old Mine Road to get through the closed power cut portion.
After a short distance turn right into Watergate.
Just follow the path as it parallels the power cut then veers left...
towards some beautiful pine trees...
under which you can stop to pay your respects to Bozo.
Several ponds along the way.
This is the part that is supposed to be closed but it is completely passable and there were no closed signs anywhere.
Just this fencing at the end which was open.
Entering Millbrook Village.
Continue through Millbrook Village on the other side of Old Mine Road/Millbrook-Blairstown Road...
... back to the parking lot.
In the parking lot, some information on Appalachian Trail rerouting in the area.
Red is the old route, green is the relocation.

[  0.00]  Walk out the parking lot near the restrooms and cross the paved road to the orange-blazed Orchard Trail
[  0.60]  Turn left on paved Hamilton Ridge Trail (some faded blue blazes)
[  1.30]  Turn right on the orange-blazed Pioneer Trail
[  1.40]  Lime kiln on right
[  2.45]  Optional bushwhack (trail overgrown) to riverbank
[  2.80]  Cross power cut
[  2.90]  Continue straight on orange when gravel road comes in from the right
[  3.70]  End of Pioneer Trail when the Hamilton Ridge Trail comes in from the left; continue straight
[  3.85]  Turn right to DePue Cemetery when the gravel road turns left; retrace
[  3.95]  Continue on gravel road
[  4.00]  Turn left on paved Old Mine Road a short distance then right into the Van Campens Picnic Area (sign currently missing)
[  4.25]  In the picnic area turn left towards the kiosk and take the yellow-blazed Van Campens Trail
[  5.25]  Turn left on mossy paved path then right on footpath just before bridge (no blazes)
[  5.70]  Turn left and cross bridge at power cut trail closure; turn right on paved Old Mine Road
[  5.85]  Turn right into Watergate at the gate
[  6.15]  Bozo's grave on left under tree; continue straight until Millbrook Village, continue through village crossing paved road
[  7.00]  Back at parking lot


  1. Very beautiful, and it's great to see a trail without snow and ice. It's also wonderful to see Shawnee still hiking and being helped when needed. All in all, an especially lovely post. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Bill! I can imagine you have icy, snowy trails for quite some time up where you are. With the chiropractor/Adequan injections/Deramaxx on hiking days/Tramadol after hiking/fish oil/Dasuquin/Missing Link/turmeric - I think that's it - hope to keep Shawnee hiking as long as possible. That combo brought her back from not being able to hike at all last June. This hike was too long and rugged for her and I feel terribly guilty about that. Like the chiropractor tells me, I have to regulate her because she will just keep going for me. She could barely walk the day after but she has been resting and is about back to normal now. It will be a much shorter/easier hike the next time, I promise!



    How did this speeling erorr get past anyone before it was posted?

    1. LOL, good catch! I hadn't noticed that until you pointed it out and I looked at it more closely.


  3. Nice hike. Good for Shawnee- even if she was sore the next day. My guys turn 11 this year!!!! One of them has some soreness occasionally- I try to enjoy every minute of them!!
    This looks like a MOSTLY flat hike- like no real climbing like some of your NY State hikes :). I like the look of trying this one out- we have been to the Millbrook Village before. What difficulty rating would you give it on a 1-10 (not for the dogs- but for me- I don't like the climby hikes so much)
    Lesley and Elsie

    1. Lesley,

      The Orchard Trail, Pioneer Trail, all of that, a little hilly, nothing crazy, down through a nice gorge, not rocky, a fairly smooth trail, I would say that's a 2 or 3 if you consider an unpaved rail trail a 1. Where I went wrong was going down to the river, climbing the steep uphill part, then coming back along the top of the old rock wall. Shawnee doesn't do well on rocky surfaces like that because it jolts her bad knee too much and overworks her other muscles that are already overcompensating so she starts to get very weak. You could easily omit that part. What is harder is through Van Campens Glen. The first part is very rocky, uneven, some steps going up steep hills. It smooths out eventually but if it is snowy or icy, even if you wear microspikes, it would be very difficult for the dogs. Fortunately we only hit that one patch of ice. Any more ice would have been impossible for Shawnee. I would say go when there is no snow or ice and it's relatively dry because the trail in the glen has lots of roots and it's like stepping on ice when they are wet. Worst case scenario, if you get into the glen and it's too hard, you can always walk back on Old Mine Road. In the summer it gets crowded and the ticks are really bad so this is actually a good time if you can find a day when there is no ice.


    2. I just thought of something. Although the glen is the prettiest part, if you want to omit that and avoid road walking on Old Mine Road, you can do this. After the cemetery, turn left and go back to the Hamilton Ridge Trail - you would have passed that on the left before the cemetery. Just take that all the way back to the Orchard Trail then right on the Orchard Trail back to Millbrook Village. That would make the entire hike easy!

  4. PS- what are they constructing?

    1. It's the Susquehanna-Roseland Project, a controversial powerline upgrade by PSE&G and PPL. Many people were against it, the New York New Jersey Trail Conference was fighting it, but it was approved and construction has started. Here is some info on it

  5. Thanks Daniella
    I'll study the maps and try some parts of that. I had to laugh- at the picture of the dodgy looking scramble along the river on that narrow trail- was thinking- OMG- would be sooo easy to fall in there!!!!

    Sad about the construction

  6. It's really something that Shawnee is able to do 7 miles after 13 years. My two shepherds are both 13. After hiking nearly every day, they've just about had enough. I don't know what I'll do without my trail buddies. But Shawnee is something special. Great article.

    1. Oh Suzy, I am so sorry! I feel your pain because I know the day is coming, I am sure much sooner than I would like. We have already been winding down since last summer. It's reality and I have to prepare myself for it yet try to enjoy each day that she can still hike and try not to have it on my mind all the time. I don't know what I will do without my trail buddy either. There will be another, but it won't ever be the same. I read somewhere that the average lifespan of a GSD is something like 9.7 years so I can only think that it is the hiking that has kept ours going well beyond that.


  7. So glad you posted this up again! This is near to where I live, and it's a place I have been meaning and meaning and meaning again to check out. Maybe seeing you post this up is the push I need to go sooner myself rather then later!

    1. Great! Let me know after you do it what you think of it. See now, you have an assignment - GO!