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Delaware Water Gap NRA: Copper Mines, AT, Catfish Mountain, Rattlesnake Swamp, Catfish Pond - 4/18/10

Another great hike in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Only ran into a handful of other hikers at the fire tower, passed 1 hiker on the AT and none on the other trails, so you should just about have the place to yourself. I saw the rest of the world over at the Mount Tammany/Dunnfield parking lot as I drove by. The trails for this hike are on the NY/NJ Trail Conference Southern Kittatinny Trails Map 121.

From I-80 take New Jersey exit 1 to north on Old Mine Road for 7.5 miles. Park in the Copper Mines parking lot on the left. Walk across Old Mine Road to the trailhead. The trail forks with an unmarked trail to the left. This trail is .25 miles total out and back and takes you along waterfalls to an abandoned mine which is closed off. We did that first so that is factored into the mileage. The trail straight ahead at the fork is the red-blazed Copper Mine trail, which is absolutely gorgeous with waterfalls, hemlocks, rhododendrons, the trail going up steeply along a ledge for a bit. There is so much to look at you hardly realize you are going up. The trail eventually levels out and reaches the white-blazed AT at 2.8 miles. Turn left on the AT, cross a bridge and a gravel road and continue on. The AT seems boring along this stretch but once the views start, they keep getting better. Reach the Catfish Fire Tower at 5.3 miles and if you are peakbagging, this is a summit for the New Jersey 1K Club. Continue on the AT for another 1/2 mile and turn left on an unmarked gravel road. After 1/4 mile, turn left on the orange-blazed Rattlesnake Swamp trail at 6.1 miles. It kind of sounds like a rain forest with all of the frogs and whatever other critters in the swamp. The trail is higher than the swamp so other than a few mushy spots, it wasn't bad at all. The trail is very pretty and goes through some heavily wooded areas. Arrive at Catfish Pond at about 7.9 miles. A little farther ahead at 8.2 miles, leave the orange-blazed trail turning right onto an unmarked trail. This trail becomes a gravel road which takes you through the AMC Mohican Outdoor Center. Continue on the gravel road until you reach the AT at 9 miles. Turn right on the AT, cross over the bridge you crossed earlier, then a few feet ahead turn right on the red-blazed Copper Mine Trail that you first come up on and follow back to where you started reaching the parking lot at about 11.6 miles.

From the parking lot there is a very short trail which leads to the Delaware River:

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