Happy, happy Thursday my friends! This post was meant to be my #TravelTuesday post for the week, but life got in the way. So here we are, talking Travel on a Thursday. Which is fine by me because I believe that any day of the week is a great day for an adventure!
Today, I’m sharing with you the one hike that you absolutely MUST do if you’re ever visiting The Poconos!
When I started researching hikes in The Poconos, there was one that overwhelmingly stood out above the others. In fact, every single website I visited said that if there was one hike you should do while you were visiting, this was it. And after hiking it myself, I have to say, I completely agree!
I mean… who could argue with a view like this?!
I mean, talking about a postcard from The Poconos!
I’ve been on quite a few hikes in my life, and to be honest, my top ones have all included tall mountain peaks and bright teal lakes. But, this one, is right up there with best. While it is hard to compete with snow capped peaks in my book, the stellar views and tranquil forests that you would never expect to find in New Jersey are worth the hike on their own.
Now, before I begin to tell you about all the beautiful things you’ll find along this hike, there are a few things you should know.
Know Before You Go Before you set off on your hiking adventure, be sure you have prepared yourself. It’s important to note, that this hike is NOT an easy walk. So many websites said that it was an easy to moderate hike and tbh, I disagree. This hike was challenging in the fact that you spend 95% of your ascent CLIMBING UP ROCKS. I, the picture of grace, practically killed herself 8 times trying to maneuver around the rocks. That being said, the grade of the hike isn’t bad, and the trails are well marked. This hike will leave you out of breath, but if you stop to rest, and are in decent shape, you’ll do just fine!
- Wear Layers, no matter the season. Always dress in layers! It’s easier to take off a jacket and throw it in your bag, than it is to hike while shivering!
- Bring Water. And Snacks. Hiking can be tough, especially if you’re a beginner. There is no shame in stopping for a snack break. Pack granola bars, trail mix and other high protein snacks. Trust me. Your belly will thank you!
- Wear the right shoes. No one should be trying to hike in flip flops. Wear sturdy shoes that will support your feet as you trek miles through the forest. I highly recommend a good pair of hiking boots. I actually don’t own a full hiking boot, because I really love hiking in my Keens. But the day we went was too cold, and I wanted to look cute for The ‘Gram and wore this pair of little boy work boots that I got at Walmart 4 years ago. BIG MISTAKE. I felt every.single.one. of those rocks through the soles of my shoes. I couldn’t wait to get back to the jacuzzi that night. So please, learn from my mistake!
- Take a backpack. Things you should always have with you? Water, food, a jacket, bear spray, first aid kit, and a GPS locating device if you are hiking solo. (I don’t think there are any bears on this hike in particular, but I’m a firm believer in being safe rather an sorry.)
- Don’t forget your camera. Less serious than the others, but just as important! You guys will LOVE the scenery and won’t want to be without a camera to capture the magical memories you are about to make. However, make sure you have a place to put your camera as you climb the rocks because if it’s dangling around your neck, I can promise you it will get broken.
And as for the trail itself? It’s not that long. The entire loop is just about 3.5 miles round trip. It’s technically part of the world famous Appalachian Trail. So you can brag to all your friends you hiked the Appalachian Trail… just “forget” to tell them you only hiked 3.5 miles of it. 🙂 You can access this hike in any season, but the summer and fall will give you the best hiking conditions.
There are two ways you can hike this loop, starting with the Red Dot Trail, or the Blue Dot Trail. If you’re planning to hike the entire loop, it doesn’t really matter which way you choose. However, if you’re planning to leave the same way you came back, you may miss out on a few of the main attractions of the hike. For example… you won’t get to see the view of the Delaware Water Gap (the best view on this hike, IMO) if you hike up the Blue Dot Trail and back down it too. If you are planning to do the entire loop (which tbh, you should it’s not that long of a hike!) you most definitely should start with the Red Dot Trail. The Red Dot trail is much steeper than the Blue Dot and rocky. It’s much easier to climb up this, than try to climb down it!
We began our day bright and early in the morning! We grabbed breakfast at the Dunken Donuts just around the corner from our Hotel and ate on the drive to the Delaware Water Gap. (It only takes about 6 minutes!) It turns out that I’m a stellar navigator and got us lost multiple times, so it took us longer than we were supposed to. But to be fair, the exits didn’t really look like exits, more like turn outs. We ended up making our way to a parking lot that I assumed was correct because we saw a sign for the Mt. Tammany Red Dot Trail. Spoiler Alert: We were not in the right place. (More on this later! LOL)
I thought it was odd because I had read that there was a porta potty there and we didn’t see one. But EVERYTHING was basically “closed for the season” already mid October so I thought maybe the got rid of it already. We grabbed our coats (it was chilly, but a gorgeous morning!) and our gear and started our hike!
First thing we came across? Stairs. Trev was THRILLED. (Not sure why this is funny? Click here!)
Once we made it up the stairs, the hike began wandering through the lush forests of the Delaware Water Gap. It was quiet and serene and the exact change of scenery I needed from the traffic jams and honking horns of the city. Here, the only sky scrapers are old trees and the honking only comes from the birds flying past.
So pretty right? Even between the main attractions, this hike is beautiful. After what seemed like too short of time, we found ourselves at mini rock scramble. At the top? The prettiest view in all of New Jersey.
This view was the main reason we wanted to do this hike, it was crazy to us that we reached it so quickly on our journey. I literally have no idea how far this was into our hike, but it was for sure less than a mile.
We sat and admired the view for awhile, and took lots of pictures! Then we continued on towards the summit.
This is where things started to get wild.
The rest of the hike to the summit looked like this…
And as we kept climbing, the rocks kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We put our phones, cameras and GoPro into the backpack because we needed both hands to climb. (So I didn’t capture the rest of the climb to the summit.) The rocks were a little bit slippery thanks to the fresh morning dew, and tbh, my heart was pounding real fast in some of the spots. All I could think about was misplacing my hand and falling to my rocky death in a pair of Walmart boys shoes. (Okay. Slightly dramatic, I know.)
Finally, we made it to the top of Mt. Tammany!
The view from the top made the treacherous climb up totally worth it. You could see New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania!
We stayed at the summit for a bit to rest and enjoy the view. But it was super windy at the top, so we didn’t stay as long as we’d have liked. We began our decent back towards our car, now following the Blue Dots.
Following the blue dots we hopped over steams,
enjoyed some local wildlife,
and saw a beautiful little waterfall!
This is when we realized something was a bit “off”. We knew we had been hiking for about 3 miles, and were still following the river. When we stated our trail, we didn’t hear or see any signs of a river. We kept going, thinking maybe we were just crazy.
There were a couple places where we found signs calling the trail things other than The Blue Dot Trail (I don’t remember what they were) but we were still following blue dots too. There were even some spots where the trail split into different directions, but we kept going straight following the blue dots. Just as we were starting to get worried, we heard people (the first we had seen/heard anyone else all day) and saw the reflection of the sun off windshields in the distance. As the path began to open into a large clearing, we realized we weren’t in the right spot. We were standing next to a prota potty in a massive parking lot, filled with cars. This was most definitely not where we began our hike.
Luckily, we realized pretty quickly that I had dropped a pin where we parked our car. Turns out, we were in the over flow parking lot, just up the road. (0.3 miles to be exact) As we walked across the parking lot towards the road, we saw the official start of the Red Dot Trail, and after reading online, these stairs take you over to where we began our hike. So we really weren’t completely out of our way! We decided we didn’t want to do any more stairs though, and walked up the road to our car.
All in all, this hike was pretty spectacular. If you only have time for one hike while you’re in The Poconos, this should be it!
Have you hiked in The Poconos? What other hikes would you recommend?!
If you missed my first two posts on The Poconos, click below!
Curious to know more about The Poconos? Be sure to come back (or subscribe!) next Tuesday!
Alright my loves. I’m off to finish this week. I’m SO ready for it to be the weekend! We have a lot going on this weekend, but fingers crossed I’ll have time to relax a little bit and sleep a lot! What are you up to now that it’s November?! (Can you believe we’re almost done with 2018?!!)
Have a wonderful weekend my friends! I’ll be back on Sunday for a Weekend Round Up!