Rollin’ Down the Delaware

Whether you prefer fine dining or a far-out adventure, the Delaware River has your number all year round. Follow these ideas from north to south to make a splash on New Jersey’s side of the Mighty Delaware.

Paddlers encounter a modest chop in a wide section of the Middle Delaware.
Photo by Cindy Ross.

Whether you prefer fine dining or a far-out adventure, the Delaware River has your number all year round. Follow these ideas from north to south to make a splash on New Jersey’s side of the Mighty Delaware.

Into the Wild:

Montague to Phillipsburg

The upper section of the river boasts abundant sites for great hiking, fishing, and camping.
At High Point State Park, scale the High Point Monument (1,803 feet) for breathtaking vistas of the river as it twists and turns through the countryside. 1480 Rt 23, Sussex (973-875-4800).

The largest recreation area in the Eastern U.S., the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Center includes a wide stretch of the river ideal for canoeing and tubing. It also offers extensive hiking (25 miles of the Appalachian Trail), plenty of campgrounds, beaches for boating and swimming, and great spots to snag shad, smallmouth bass, or walleye.

Expect a tight squeeze at Dingmans Bridge, a historic, two-lane, 18-foot-wide span. For more, see Exit Ramp, page 132. Layton (570-828-2623; dingmansbridge.com).

From the wraparound porch of the colonial Delaware View House (on a bluff above Flatbrookville) drink in a captivating view of Walpack Bend, an S-shaped turn in the river that provides three sets of intense rapids for gung-ho canoers and kayakers.

Within the Delaware Water Gap NRC nestles a blast from the past, Millbrook Village, a re-creation of a turn-of-the-century settlement with log cabins, farmhouses, a blacksmith shop, and a general store. Old Mine Rd, Millbrook (908-841-9531; millbrooknj.com).

The nearly vertical limestone and sandstone walls of Mount Tammany and Mount Minsi bookend the magnificent Delaware Water Gap itself. Explore Worthington State Forest, hike the well-marked trails, and bed down at one of 69 campsites (908-841-9575).

The enchanting village of Belvidere boasts more certified Victorian structures per square mile than any other NJ town. It’s located at the junction of the Delaware and Pequest Rivers—a prime spot for trout fishing. Don’t miss Garrett D. Wall Park, the Country Gate Theatre, and local favorite Thisilldous Eatery (908-475-5331; belviderenj.com).

South of Belvidere is Foul Rift, a mile-long stretch of rapids considered to be the most dangerous on the river. For a gentler ride further down the river, reserve a raft, tube, kayak, or canoe with the Lazy River Outpost. 4 Union Sq, Phillipsburg (570-242-8020; lazyriveroutpost.com).

Old-fashioned Fun:

Milford to Titusville

With many charming little towns known for antiques, quaint bed and breakfasts, art galleries, and good restaurants, this part of the waterfront soothes the soul. You can bike down the Delaware & Raritan Canal towpath or cruise scenic Route 29 all the way to Trenton.

Honoring fresh seafood, the Milford Oyster House is Ryland Inn alum Ed Coss’s New American restaurant and features specialties such as crab Norfolk and Oyster House shellfish stew. 92 Rt 519, Milford (908-995-9411; milfordoysterhouse.com). At the Ship Inn Restaurant & Brewery, enjoy an ever-changing tap list and British-inspired menu in an 1860s Victorian house with creek-
side views. 61 Bridge St, Milford (908-995-0188; shipinn.com).

Few views can rival those you will behold from high above the river in a hot-air balloon, and with about a dozen providers in the river area, it is easy to soar up, up, and away.

This lazy part of the river means easy tubing. Reserve a float with Delaware River Tubing, and your trip will include a stop at Adventure Island for a BBQ lunch from the famous River Hot Dog Man. 2998 Daniel Bray Hwy, Frenchtown (908-996-5386; delawarerivertubing.com).

The Frenchtown Inn was built in 1805 to serve heavy ferry traffic. Today, it has a reputation as one of the better restaurants in the state, with dishes like Chilean sea bass with porcini mushrooms and yellow lentils. 7 Bridge St, Frenchtown (908-996-3300; frenchtowninn.com).

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. NJ’s longest park (70 miles from Milford to Trenton and inland to New Brunswick), is a favorite of runners and bicyclists (609-924-5705; dandrcanal.com).

Stroll across the pedestrian bridge near Bull’s Island State Park Recreation Area at Raven Rock, and bike, fish, or picnic among the majestic sycamore trees, silver maples and tulip poplars. 2185 Daniel Bray Hwy, Stockton (609-397-2949).

Comfort food like meatloaf or seafood chowder are served up at Meil’s Restaurant, a funky little cafe tucked in one of Stockton’s many nooks and crannies. Bridge and Main sts, Stockton (609-397-8033; meilsrestaurant.com).

Prallsville Mills, one of many historic mills along the river, offers concerts, art exhibits, antiques shows, and a craft gallery featuring local artisans. Rt 29, Stockton (609-397-3586; drms-stockton.org). You are sure to find a treasure at the Golden Nugget Antique Market open year-round. 1850 River Rd, Lambertville (609-397-0811; gnmarket.com).

A restored nineteenth-century train depot, Lambertville Station is a landmark. Specialties include dijon-rosemary encrusted rack of lamb with almond-mint pesto. 11 Bridge St, Lambertville (609-397-8300; lambertvillestation.com).

For small-town vibe and uptown menu, try It’s Nutts Restaurant. Save room for a treat at the adjacent ice cream shack. 1382 River Rd, Titusville (609-737-0505; .itsnuttsrestaurant.com). Down the road, behind Washington Crossing Bridge, Faherty’s on the Delaware is tailor-made for a riverside quick bite and cocktail on the outdoor deck. 1339 River Rd, Titusville (609-737-0400).

You’ll find the spot where George shoved off on Christmas Day, 1776, before surprising the Hessians, in Washington Crossing State Park. There are trails for mountain biking and hiking, and the Open Air Theater in summer. 355 Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd, Titusville (609-737-0623).

Urban Plunge:

Trenton to Camden

Boosting Trenton’s one-time position as a top producer of steel, rubber, and ceramics, the Trenton Makes Bridge is one of the most notable landmarks spanning the river, with its neon “Trenton Makes, The World Takes” message lit brilliantly at night.

Want to see your tax dollars at work? Head to the State Capitol Complex and tour the NJ State House, including the striking gold dome. 125 W State St, Trenton (609-633-2709; njstatehouse.org). The New Jersey State Museum covers archaeology/ethnology, cultural history, fine art, and natural history. Visit the newly redesigned planetarium and an exhibit about global warming in the state. 205 W State St, Trenton (609-292-6464; njstatemuseum.org).

Home baseball games at Mercer County Waterfront Park start April 8 for the Trenton Thunder, the AA affiliate of the Yankees. Catch a night game and enjoy the postgame win-or-lose fireworks that light up the river. 1 Thunder Rd, Trenton (609-394-3300; trentonthunder.com). Then bop next door to KatManDu, a popular Caribbean-themed restaurant and nightclub with live music many nights of the week. Rt 29, 50 Riverview Executive Park, Trenton (609-393-7300).

The Delaware meets tidewater at Trenton, creating some dangerous rapids. The tides change twice daily, affecting the nearby Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh, recreational wetlands ideal for canoe, kayak, and wildlife enthusiasts wanting to escape the big city for a few hours.

The historic city of Burlington boasts more than 40 significant sites, including the first European settlement
in the state, Jersey’s oldest fire company and library, and Underground Railroad stops. Access the river via the mile-long Riverfront Promenade, home of summer outdoor concerts and the Delaware River Heritage Trail (609-386-3993; tourburlington.org). In town, UMMM Ice Cream has been dishing out award-winning, homemade ice cream in an old-fashioned parlor since 1982. 236 High & Union sts, Burlington (609-387-9786; ummmicp.com).

Palmyra Cove Nature Park puts you in the catbird seat to watch the flocks flap home this spring, with extensive trails where you can spot more than 250 migratory species. 1300 Rt 73 N, Palmyra (856-829-1900; palmyracove.org).

Clamber aboard the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, tour Big J’s upper and lower sections, and learn about her decorated past. 62 Battleship Pl, Camden (866-877-6262; battleshipnewjersey.org). Next door at the Adventure Aquarium, press your nose against the glass in the shark tunnel. Gape in the 4D theater and visit the see-and-touch interactive inlet. 1 Aquarium Dr, Camden (856-365-3300; adventureaquarium.com).

If the view of the Philadelphia skyline doesn’t distract, you can root for the Atlantic League’s Camden Riversharks baseball team at Campbell’s Field, where play starts May 1. 401 N Delaware Ave, Camden (856-963-2600; riversharks.com).

Southern Comfort:

Gloucester City to Salem

Before the river’s lower estuary empties into Delaware Bay, it provides a great home for birds and wildlife, and a multitude of creeks for quiet beauty.

Now part of Red Bank Battlefield Park, the riverfront home of James and Ann Whitall served as a military hospital during the Revolutionary War, while the 44-acre apple orchard became Fort Mercer because of its strategic location. 100 Hessian Ave, National Park (856-853-5120).

The brackish tidal wetlands of the Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is an important feeding and nesting area for waterfowl (609-463-0994). Also within the Refuge, the Finns Point Range Lighthouse once guided ships navigating between the Delaware River and the bay. The 1876 94-foot wrought-iron structure is closed to the public, but you can still explore the grounds. 197 Lighthouse Rd, Pennsville (856-935-1487).

Nearby Fort Mott State Park, built for defense during the Spanish-American War, offers excellent walking trails and picnicking areas. 454 Fort Mott Rd, Pennsville (856-935-3218).

A network of tiny inlets and islands, Mannington Meadows is a paddler’s dream, with plenty of channels to navigate all day. See if you can spot the diamondback terrapins or the bald eagles that inhabit the surrounding area near Harrisonville.

Home to the Salem County Historical Society, the 1721 Alexander Grant Mansion House features colonial exhibits, including the Wistarburg Glass and decorative-art displays. 79-83 Market St, Salem (856-935-5004; salemhistoricalsociety.com).

Delaware River Facts:
Length: 360 miles
Best time for rapids: May
Abundant fish: Bass and Shad
Best sunset: From the Gap
Best view: High Point Monument
Best scenic byway: Route 29

To read more stories from our Waterfront Getaways issue, click on the links below:

Pinelands Odyssey

The Take on Lakes

On the Waterfront

Pleasant Crossing

Walking the Waterfront

Down by the River

Livin’ La Vida Lago

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