Some friends and I are headed up to the DWG to do some camping from May 3rd to 4th. It's primarily going to be a guys weekend-just a bunch of old friends from childhood now scattered across the state getting back together to catch up, but we're intending on getting out and exploring on Saturday and Sunday as well. To me, part of the allure of places like the Water Gap and Stokes are that they aren't a preserved primeval wilderness, but rather a product of modern preservation after close to 300 years of agriculture, timber, transportation, and homesteading in the area. Finding what is left of all of that is one of the things I like to do most while exploring those areas.
I've been to what is left of Blue Mountain Lakes and the other vacation communities up on the ridge, visited the Shoemaker Farm in valley off of Mountain Road, and found some roads here and there that probably haven't appeared on a map in 50 years or so, but I'm always looking for new things. Any suggestions to occupy ourselves with while we're up there? We'll be camping at Bear Creek, not far from Tillman's Ravine. Here's an example-we plan to check out this area near Lake Shawanni-these were obviously tilled fields at one time. We'll be looking for evidence of a house/barn, old stone walls, etc...
Damn Hank, someone should get you some maps of the Indian Ocean and you can find the remains of Malaysia Flight 370 for us. Please send me a Private Message if you discover those are gorilla operated marijuana growing operations in use!!! Enjoy your explorations-TJK
LOL...that's what happens when you spend your lunch hour combing over satellite imagery of Stokes/the DWG on a large HD monitor. I got started with this kind of thing when I was a kid exploring the Pine Barrens with nothing more than highlighted topographic maps I bought at Harry's Army and Navy-the Pines are full of abandoned bogs, forgotten towns, iron furnaces, etc... There's just as much if not more history in the Kittatinnies.
Well, better late than never! Here are some things I came across recently in DWG.
Cabin remains on a woods road off of Mountain Road described in this hike (scroll about 3/4 of the way down): http://gonehikin.blogspot.com/2014/04/tillman-ravine-silver-spray-h...
Remains of a pond and a row of old pines from a summer camp that operated in the 40's, 50's and 60's. Might be more to find but I had extra dogs with me so couldn't bushwhack where I wanted to for more exploration. Also lots of evidence of past inhabitants all along Upper Ridge Trail: http://gonehikin.blogspot.com/2014/05/delaware-water-gap-nra-nj-upp...
Interested in knowing what you found over the weekend!
Neat! I will definitely check out those remains the next time I'm up there. You actually answered a question I had been wondering about for a long time regarding where Woods Road goes after the the barrier at the border between Stokes and the Water Gap. I had traveled the driveable length of Woods Road through Stokes and hit that same steel gate you approached from the opposite direction. Can you indicate where on the map you went in from Mountain Road? Also, "Mrs. B" was "Mrs. Battali." The Battali's owned the farm that is now Bear Creek Campground (just west of the Walpack Inn on 615), where we camped last weekend. In the 1930s and 40s people would ask the family for permission to come onto the farm to fish the Flatbrook, which runs through it. After a while they started up a side business of charging folks to camp. The farm stayed in private hands through the Tocks Island Dam mess and it was eventually sold to the current owner who is a State Trooper in Augusta.
The farm you passed on your way down Mountain Road was the Shoemaker Farm:
Continuing here because I couldn't continue typing after I posted those pictures for some reason. Anyway, we just hit the highlights because we ended up not having nearly as much time as we would have liked. I did get back behind the 4H camp and saw remains of the stone walls around those long disused fields, but need more time to bushwhack and see what's there. There's always next time...
Hank - How is that campground (Bear Creek"). Any plus/minus to it versus camping at Stokes or Swartswood for $20/night or along the AT (ie more scenic, less crowded, great bar, etc?).
Bear Creek is great-Ken, the owner, is a great guy. Tent sites are down along the Flatbrook-there are some wooded sites but those had been flooded out due to the heavy rain we received on Wednesday, so we ended up closer to the front in a mowed off area. I don't know what he charges-I was in charge of food-another guy paid for the sites-I'll ask him, but I'd say it's probably comparable to the state campgrounds. Bear Creek is private of course, so beers around the campfire are ok. It gets crowded during trout stocking season, but tapers off after that. There are no amenities-just porta-potties and fresh water, that's it. We'll definitely be going back-the location is great too because you're in the Gap but close to Stokes.
Very interesting, thanks! Now I need to go back and explore Shoemaker Farm. Like you said, always next time.
If you look at my track, you can see where the Woods Road comes out on Mountain Road. http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2731703&code=92...
It's just about half way between the cemetery and Buttermilk Falls. Pretty easy to see walking on Mountain Road. There is a chain gate but it was on the ground when I was there. Starts out as a well-defined woods road then it veers left and becomes more of a footpath. Just when you see the chimney ruins on the left the trail is about gone. From there you need to keep heading in the same direction towards the ravine. At the ravine turn right and start going uphill then veer slightly left as you climb and you'll run right into the well-defined woods road. I ran into a trail maintainer at the end of the hike in Tillman Ravine and I asked him if I had missed something there. He said no, the road does fizzle out but picks back up at the higher elevation. It is much prettier than the part after the gate where cars can drive and the litter starts :(