Tag Archives: Delaware Water Gap

Appalachian Trail: Tott’s Gap Out and Back

Two weeks ago I hiked a short section of the Appalachian Trail, just south of the Delaware Water Gap. Mike and his dog Dutch joined me for this trip.

We were planning on being at Nelson’s Overlook for sunset, so we got out a little later in the afternoon than we normally do. We arrived at the parking area at Fox Gap along Rt 191 around 3 pm. As we put our boots on and got ready to head out on the trail, about 20 or so Boy Scouts emerged from the woods on the other side of the road. Seemed that we were going to have company on this hike.

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The Boy Scouts went on ahead as we got ready to hit the trail. We were soon off on the A.T. as it made its way through a nice section of forest. There is a hunting club at the bottom of the mountain near this part of the trail and gun shots could be heard continually as we made our way.

A.T. neark Kirkridge Shelter
A.T. neark Kirkridge Shelter

We reached and passed the sign for the Kirkridge Shelter – the last A.T. shelter in Pennsylvania, a mere 6 miles from the Delaware Gap. After about 3/4 of mile we reached Nelson’s Overlook. The view is a nice one, looking south over the farmlands of Pennsylvania.

It was here we caught up with the Boy Scouts, and their friends. There were four different troops camping in the big field at the overlook, over 50 Scouts in total. We said hello but quickly kept going down the trail. We wanted to cover a few more miles before coming back here for sunset.

The trail became more rocky as we made our way toward Totts Gap. We reached a partial view at a place called “Lunch Rocks”. We took a short break here and enjoyed looking out to the north toward the Delaware Water Gap. We could see the fire tower at Totts Gap from here.

Lunch Rocks
Lunch Rocks

We pressed on a little further. The trail remained fairly rocky and at one point climbed over a huge boulder. We passed a few other hikers and backpackers. We advised a couple that there was the group of Scouts at the vista, and that if they were looking to camp, that they’d be better off heading to the shelter. They thanked us for our advice and continued on the trail. We passed another backpacker, who was out for a solo overnight hike. He too was heading for the shelter.

We soon reached Totts Gap. We stopped for a second in the power line swath there, which features a partial view. The sun was starting to set and we headed back the way we came, with a little jump to our step trying to beat the sunset.

We scooted around the boulder, passed Lunch Rocks, and were soon back with the Scouts at Nelson’s Overlook. The sky was starting to go pink and there was a clear buzz about the vista with the 50 boys milling about.

Nelson's Overlook
Nelson’s Overlook

We snapped a few pictures and the Scouts asked questions about hiking the A.T. and about Mike’s dog. We told them to enjoy their night, it was a lovely night for camping, and finished the short walk back to the car as the forest became dark.

Foggy day on Mt. Minsi

With the temperature expected to be close to 70 degrees in late December, I knew I had to get out to the woods somewhere. A quick text to Delia confirmed we’d be heading for the Delaware Water Gap to hike Mt. Minsi.

During our 90 minute drive to the Gap, it rained intermittently, and heavy at times. But the forecast only called for passing showers and we hoped that it would be dry by the time we got there.

Arriving at the parking area, the rain had stopped but we were greeted to wet conditions. Snow melt and some remaining snow made the bottom of the mountain a mix of snow, ice, slush and standing water.

My thermometer read 65 as we started our hike but the snow melt combined with the humidity made for some strangely local pockets of warm and cool air.

We made our way past Lake Lenape, where a cool breeze came off the ice covered lake. The humid air mass hovering over the icy lake created a dense fog that stayed stationary over the water.

Frozen Delaware and foggy Mt Tammany
Mt. Tammany obscured by fog, frozen Delaware River below

Soon enough we were trudging through mud and ice as we made our way up the mountain. There are a few vistas as you move higher in elevation. We soon reached the first, which usually contains a nice look at Mt. Tammany and the Delaware River. The icy river was visible below, but the NJ side of the Gap was almost completely obscured by fog and low lying clouds.  While unable to see the mountain, the view was still beautiful as the low lying clouds moved through valley.

We pushed on up the mountain. We arrived at Eureka Creek, the only official stream crossing of the hike. The stream was as high as I’d ever seen it, flowing heavy from the melting snow. We rock hopped gingerly across the swollen stream. The air temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees in the area around the stream.

But soon enough we were climbing more steeply up the mountain. The air became so warm, I was able to take off my long sleeve layer and hike in just a t-shirt.

Foggy Mt Tammany
Would be view of Mt. Tammany

We reached another would be vista – one that is usually a perfect view of Mt Tammany. But found the fog to be denser than at the lower elevations and the view to be nothing more than a think mass of grey.

We continued on to the top of the mountain where we ran into the only other hikers we would see that day. 

The view from the top usually showcases the Delaware River and the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey looking south. But again, the view was obscured by the dense fog.

Ghost River
Delaware River through the fog from the top of Mt. Minsi

We took a short break and the fog moved out briefly. The icy river was visible for only a moment below. The fog gave the whole view a surreal atmosphere and the line between the river, the land, and the sky was obscured. 

We continued on down the A.T. for a short while. The trail is level and fairly flat for about another mile before reaching Totts Gap. We did not go as far as Totts Gap and turned around after a short walk down the foggy trail. 

A.T. Panorama on Mt Minsi
A.T. Panorama

Instead of taking the A.T., we decided to follow the fire road back to the car. The walk was fairly easy, with the gravel road gradually descending down the mountain. 

Toward the bottom, the trail became very wet with runoff and more and more snow started to appear. The last mile or so was very soggy. There was even a few fresh bear tracks in the snow, surprising with how cold the weeks before had been.

We made our way past Lake Lenape again just as a brief shower started to move in. The warm rain added even more fog over the lake. 

Lake Lenape fog
Lake Lenape