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Crunchy Leaves, Roaring Waterfalls Make for Sensory National Park Experience


Dingmans Falls is a popular destinations for visitors at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.

Dingmans Falls is a popular destinations for visitors at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.

Signs of fall are on full display in much of the eastern United States - which makes it a great time to visit America’s national parks.

That’s why adventurer Mikah Meyer planned for a late October visit to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area - a 283-square-kilometer (70,000-acre) park that spreads across the northeastern states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

One of four National Park Service sites in northeastern Pennsylvania, the area has attracted visitors for centuries. From the mid-19th through the early 20th, it was one of the most popular summer resorts in the eastern United States.

A sensory indulgence

Mikah and his travel companion Andy Waldron retraced the steps taken by those past visitors as they hiked through miles of crunchy leaves that covered the many trails.

Mikah said he also enjoyed being surrounded by the native rhododendrons. While still green right now, “Come late spring, they will bloom in purple, magenta and pink colors,” he observed.

A heavy rainstorm resulted in a swollen creek on the way to the popular Dingmans Falls at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.

A heavy rainstorm resulted in a swollen creek on the way to the popular Dingmans Falls at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.

The park's many walkways and bridges led Mikah and Andy through a changing landscape of wet leaves and swollen creeks to some of the parks’ many spectacular waterfalls.

Majestic waters

There'd been heavy rain the day before, and the falls were especially powerful. “According to a park ranger at the park Visitor Center, waterfalls are at their peak flow 24 hours after a rainstorm,” Mikah explained.

It was a sight Mikah got to witness for himself. “We went to these three different waterfalls which were all flowing tremendously from all the rain that had trickled down from the mountains, so it was fortuitous timing in the sense that we got to see those waterfalls.”

Waterfalls such as the popular Dingmans Falls plunge from the higher elevations, providing cool oases during the summer and spectacular ice walls in the winter at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.

Waterfalls such as the popular Dingmans Falls plunge from the higher elevations, providing cool oases during the summer and spectacular ice walls in the winter at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania.

In one section of the park called Child's Play, there are a number of bridges that crisscross the waterfalls, all within an easy 3-kilometer (two-mile) loop.

Beyond the falls

The National Park Service site was established to preserve the natural, cultural and scenic resources of the Delaware River valley and provide opportunities for recreation and education in close proximity to the most densely populated region of the nation.

One of its best known features is the Delaware Water Gap, a distinct notch cut into the Kittatinny Ridge by the Delaware River.

The Delaware River snakes between Mount Minsi (left) and Mount Tammany (right), creating the Delaware Water Gap.

The Delaware River snakes between Mount Minsi (left) and Mount Tammany (right), creating the Delaware Water Gap.

Once touted as a scenic Wonder of the World, the Gap is about a half a kilometer wide at river level and nearly one and a half kilometers across from the top of one mountain to the top of the other. The Delaware River flows free for 530 kilometers from New York through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.

The first overview

Mikah had an opportunity to get a great view of the Gap from the top of the first trail he hiked.

“Sitting here at the Tri-State overlook on the Cliff Trail at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area you can see from Pennsylvania or to New Jersey on the other side of the Delaware River,” he said excitedly.

The end of the 4.5-kilometer Cliff Trail atop the Raymondskill Ridge offers spectacular overlook views of the serpentine Delaware River valley.

The end of the 4.5-kilometer Cliff Trail atop the Raymondskill Ridge offers spectacular overlook views of the serpentine Delaware River valley.

To learn more about his Pennsylvania park experience and other national park sites he’s visited since his journey began in June, Mikah invites readers to visit his website.

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