The Delaware River Blog

How to Enjoy Spring in The Upper Delaware River Valley

After a long, cold winter, a spring getaway sounds like just what you need. Northeast of Manhattan, at the exit for Matamoras on I-84, is New York state route 97. This scenic drive follows The Delaware River into the Upper Delaware National Park, one of the best places for fishing, hiking, and family fun.

In the Upper Delaware, spring time is the best time to go fishing. A great fish to catch is The Delaware River brown trout. This fish has adapted well to The Delaware river, developing a fiery color and that vigorous “fight” when hooked that experienced anglers seek. There is more than just trout filling this river, too. Striped Bass and American Shad migrate up The Delaware from the Atlantic in springtime to fill the river with fish as well.

One great way to hook yourself one of these fish is on a boat excursion. The convenience of a fishing boat trip is an especially good choice for families. Boat fishing is a great way to introduce your child to a sport you love, because The Delaware has calm waters with plentiful migrating fish that are picture perfect sized. Imagine the picture you could take of your child holding the first fish they ever caught.

Good tour operators furnish quality equipment, so no need to spend money on rods, reels and bait for the kids to introduce them to fishing if you don’t want to. You can even save yourself some packing and leave your own rod and reel at home if you like. The tour boat company will also have recommendations for lodging in the area. Some have agreements with hotels and restaurants which could save you money. Just ask when you make your reservations.

Roebling Bridge remains of ditch and towpath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the day of the trip, remember to dress everyone for all weather. Have a jacket if the wind picks up, a hat if it starts raining, and remember that water reflects sunlight, so bring sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen for everyone, even on a cloudy day. Weather on the water can change quickly, so keep a positive attitude. A spring storm can change quickly into that sunny day when your child catches a fish. Be sure you have your camera with you!

Another time to remember your camera is when your little ones explore nature on the six hiking trails in the park. These six trails range from experienced hikers only, to a flat leisurely stroll. First time hikers should try the three mile Cobey Pond Trail, the two mile Damascus Forest Trail, or the Minisink Battleground Park Trail system. History buffs should choose the Minisink Battleground Trail to visit the site of the only revolutionary war battle fought in the Upper Delaware River Valley. If nature is what you came for, the Cobey Pond Trail has better opportunities to see waterfowl, while the Damascus Forest Trail runs through an old growth forest of Hemlocks like those that once covered the eastern seaboard.

If your children are better hikers, Upper Delaware Park, in partnership with the Boy Scouts, maintains the Tusten Mountain Trail, which runs through the historic remains of the Tusten Settlement before reaching the summit for a spectacular view of the valley.

The Mongaup River Trail, also for moderately skilled hikers, opens in April each year, and follows the Mongaup river for good chances to see eagles and waterfowl. A linear trail, you will have to retrace your steps to return, however.

The most challenging trail, but with a breath-taking panoramic view, is Bouchoux Trail. This trail climbs past large piles of bluestone from the long ago bluestone shale industry all the way up to Jensen’s Ledges. On the way, you will see a waterfall cascade down to the river and will often see eagles ride the thermals. This trail is only for the most experienced hikers, however, so if you have any doubt if your children (or you), will make it, the park staff recommends one of the other trails.

Before heading to the trailhead, make sure everyone has sturdy shoes or hiking boots with cushioned socks. Weather on the trail can also be tricky, so jackets or sweaters for everyone is a good idea. Bring water bottles for everyone, along with insect repellent. Remember to bring it along with you too as sometimes you need to reapply.

For less strenuous options, the Upper Delaware park has many historical sites, from prehistoric archaeological to the 1800s. Park staff offer educational programs in spring and summer to teach the history of the park. Kids can learn about the Lenape Indians, who made The Delaware river valley their home for thousands of years, or the story of the Delaware Aqueduct.

If your trip happens closer to summer, a good historical stop in this national park is the Zane Grey Museum. The former home of the park’s most well-known historical figure is maintained and operated by the National Park Service. A prolific writer of westerns, Zane Grey’s 90 books made him the first millionaire writer during the 1920s and 1930s. The museum gives you a peek into his diverse character with a self-guided tour with plenty of rangers available to answer questions.

The Museum is located in Lackawaxen Township, and opens in late May. On state route 97, take the Roebling Bridge across the river and turn left. There is ample parking just past the museum on the left. Boaters will want to take the entrance on the right for the boat launch.

The Upper Delaware River park protects one of the most healthy ecosystems found in the northeast. Undammed for the entire length, the free-flowing waters supports a variety of plants and animals, many that are only found in preserves such as this. The forested landscape sustains many fish and bird species, and spring in the Upper Delaware park brings a renewal. Wildflowers return and trees regain their foliage. Swarms of fish return from the Atlantic, and waterfowl make their nests once more. The Delaware is a beautiful place in spring and one of the best place to enjoy it is in the Upper Delaware National Park.

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