Mount Tammany

Located in the Worthington State Forest, the hike to the top of Mount Tammany is one of the most rewarding hikes you could ever take. The trail has one of the largest vertical differentials in New Jersey; it rises 1200 feet within less than 2 miles. Because of this, there are sections you will have to climb, or at least crawl up. However, the view is worth it. Sitting on an almost-overhang on the top of the Delaware Water Gap and enjoying the view is one in a lifetime experience.

Getting there
To get there, take Interstate 80 and once within the Delaware Water Gap, look for signs to the Worthington State Forest Information Center. The center actually has a small, grossly overpriced store, and is used by kayakers and rafters, as it lies directly at the river. The parking lot for hiking is on the other side of I-80. You’ll get there if you take the road from the info center south and turn left, going below the I-80.

The way up

The view from the top is impressive.
Once on the parking lot, the trail starts by its entrance to your left, if you face the highway. It is marked red, and starts with a series of steps up the hill. Soon, the trail turns sharp right and all hell breaks loose. You will face about a mile of sharp uphill, mostly on rocky terrain. All guides warn that this part is very dangerous when there’s frost on the rocks, but I’d advise you not to underestimate the leaves as well – it can get very slippery. Actually, I’d advise you to ignore this part of the trail completely. Just turn sharp right on the first hint of a trail, before the red-marked one turns right. This is not a marked trail, but it runs parallel with the red-marked one, on the edge of the cliff. If you do so, you avoid all the people and run into a very nice resting place about halfway up the hill, with a couple of flat rocks to sit at and enjoy the view.

Once you hit a relatively even terrain, you can proceed for a couple hundred feet without any problems. After that, you’ll run into another rocky section, where the hike transforms into a climb. Even though most of the rocks are firm, watch out for loose rocks and use both of your hands to pull yourself up. Fortunately, this section is not too long, but will cost you most of your strength reserves. Once up, you’ll be presented with a great lookout point, sadly “overpopulated” by other hikers. The good news, however, is that most people give up at this point and turn back down after enjoying the view.

The next section seems to be a piece of cake after you’ve came so far, so go even more up, all the way to the top. To your right, you’ll be presented by a rocky almost-overhang where you can sit and enjoy the view. Congratulations, you’ve just conquered one of the harder hikes in New Jersey, and have been presented with one of the most beautiful views!

The way down

A small stream on the bottom of the mountain.
When you decide to go down, take the blue trail, which leads slightly up, directly away from the lookout point. After a short while, the trail turns sharply left. At this point a gray-market trail continues straight. I have no idea where that trail leaves, but the book I trust most (50 Hikes In New Jersey by Scofield, Green and Zimmerman) do not recommend this trail.

The blue trail is slightly longer and almost as steep as the red trail. The advantage of this trail is that it is much more empty, and leads mainly through 4-6 feet high and dense undergrowth, creating an almost-tunnel feeling. This just adds to the feeling of being all alone in this world.

On the bottom, you’ll run into a very nice stream you can walk along. Later, the blue markings change to white, and you’ll end up on the same parking lot. While at the stream, you’ll run into many more hikers who took lighter trails in the area. Don’t mind them and rather enjoy the view. Even in the coldest weather, this small valley stays green, as it is full of lichen, moss and fern.

A word of advice
The hike up Mount Tammanay is pretty demanding, and you will be hard-pressed to make it, especially if you don't hike every week. You will sweat, but the top is pretty open and windy. So either chose a colder day with plenty of layering to adjust to your heat or a warm day, but with a windbreaker in your backpack.

In addition, the lookout from Mount Tammanay faces west. You will see the other side of the Delaware Water Gap very clearly there. I would advise you to start the hike early in the morning to reach the top in mid-morning or early noon - the opposite mountarin is then fully lighted and the view terrific.

Trail update
June 8, 2003
The heavy rains in june did a number on the trail. It is greatly eroded, and can get pretty wet from time to time. In fact, the second half of the hike leads now through swampy areas, and part of the trail serves as an outlet of the waters.

Difficulty: 8 out of 10; very steep hike with a few rocky climbs.
Orientation: 7 out of 10; easy to find, trails well marked, but the map is lacking detail.
Beauty: 6 out of 10; very impressive view, but the surrounding forest is nothing spectacular, and too many other hikers.

Final words
Mount Tammanay offers a few hours of hard work, rewarded with a great view of the surrounding area. Combine that with additional trails crossing the rest of the Worthington State Forest and the possibility of rafting on the Delaware river, and you have a full day trip, well worth the long drive from the Metro area.

Other links
Official site
Another official site
Park profile at New Jersey Skylands
Another hike description with pictures

The changing faces of a stream
While the view from the top of the hill is breathtaking, there are plenty of other sights as well...


© Jozef Purdes, 2001

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