HIKING MOUNT MINSI IN DELAWARE WATER GAP, PA

If you are thinking of hiking Mount Minsi, do not just show up and hope for the best. It is a very popular hike, so even finding a parking spot at the trailhead could be a challenge. Keep in mind that easily accessible as a day trip from New York and Philadelphia, Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area draws crowds, especially on weekends. Visitors come to enjoy its beautiful scenery and engage in outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and tubing but primarily hiking. Along with Mount Tammany on the New Jersey side, Mount Minsi in Pennsylvania is a favorite among hikers, but with the right approach, you can make your visit enjoyable. Here is what you need to know about hiking Mount Minsi. 

While hiking Mount Minsi you can get a glimpse of Mount Tammany on New Jersey side.
While hiking Mount Minsi, you can get a glimpse of Mount Tammany on the New Jersey side.

HIKING MOUNT MINSI IN DELAWARE WATER GAP, PA

I have to admit, I have a love-hate affair with hiking. I do not like the physical struggle it demands; on the other hand, I am willing to cope with some discomfort if a path is leading to a beautiful view. Hiking Mount Minsi is a perfect example of that scenario.

Delaware Water Gap

The Delaware Water Gap is a water gap on the border of the US states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a mile-wide chasm carved between Mount Minsi in Pennsylvania and Mount Tammany in New Jersey.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area encompasses nearly 70,000 acres of breathtaking scenery along 40 miles of the Delaware River, which winds through the Appalachian Mountains. This popular destination offers some of the best hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, and camping in the Northeast. Less than two hours from New York City and Philadelphia, it has long been an outdoor retreat, especially in the summer. With its concentration of waterfalls and scenic outlooks, the park draws visitors from across the East Coast to enjoy its natural beauty.

Hiking Mount Minsi. Lake Lenape near the trailhead to Mount Minsi.
Lake Lenape near the trailhead to Mount Minsi.

Parking lots for trails to Mount Tammany, Mount Minsi, Raymondkill Falls, Dingmans Falls, Hackers Falls, and Buttermilk Falls are usually full by 9:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays. Avoid crowded trailheads by hiking early, on weekdays, of choosing a less popular trail. Call park headquarters at (570) 426-2452 for assistance planning your hike or check the park’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS) on summer weekends for real-time updates.

One of the primary views from Mount Tammany.
One of the primary views from Mount Tammany.

Mount Minsi or Mount Tammany?

Many potential visitors ask themselves which one of the two mountains in Delaware Water Gap is more interesting to hike. In my opinion, you should do both if you can return the area, but if not,  hiking Mount Tammany would be my choice. It offers better views along the way, and especially from the top. Also, the red blaze trail, even somewhat difficult, provides more interesting terrain than its sister trail on the Pennsylvania side. (Check the pictures in the link above.)

Mount Minsi, located directly across from Mt Tammany, offers an easier hike due to a more gradual climb, but only the first overlook is truly outstanding. The very top of the mountain offers a good view but somehow spoiled by a distant image of a power plant. Additionally, Mount Minsi hiking trail is narrow in many sections and, therefore, hard to follow social distancing rules. Many hikers also complain about the sound of the highway below. The only time when Mount Minsi beats Mount Tammany is during the spring/summer when rhododendron bushes are blooming.

Hiking Mount Minsi. The best views from the trail.
The best view from Mount Minsi Trail.

What to bring for a Mount Minsi hike

Make sure to wear hiking boots or hiking sneakers since the terrain is rocky and steep for the majority of the climb. I advise bringing hiking poles to navigate the terrain. Additionally, bring water and pack a lunch or a snack as the view at the top is a nice stop for lunch. And of course, bring your camera.

Bring good footwear to hike Mount Minsi in Delaware Water Gap.
Bring proper footwear to hike Mount Minsi.

How to avoid crowds – Hiking Mount Minsi during Pandemic

Many people tired of sitting home and not able to travel, turn into hiking as a safe activity during the Covid-19 crisis. From that perspective, Mount Minsi is not the best choice. For the most part, the trail is narrow, and therefore social distancing is almost impossible. If you decide to come anyway, start your hike early before crowds arrive. Climb up by way of the Appalachian Trail, white blaze. That way, you will keep others behind you. On the way down, take a fire road, which allows for passing other hikers from a safe distance. By arriving early, you will also secure a parking spot.

Hiking Mount Minsi

Parking for hiking Mount Minsi

Coordinates: 40.979754 -75.142189

When coming from New Jersey, take Rt. 80 West, over the toll bridge into PA. Take exit 310 toward PA-611/Delaware Water Gap. Keep left to continue toward Foxtown Hill Rd. Continue on Foxtown Hill Rd. At the next light, take PA-611 South. Turn right onto Mountain Rd. Slight left onto Lake Rd. Take the next dirt road on the left into the Mt. Minsi/Lake Lenape lot. The parking area is small and fills up quickly, so plan to be there early. 

Hiking Mount Minsi is especially rewarding when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Hiking Mount Minsi is especially rewarding when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Mount Minsi trail description

Difficulty:  Moderate/Strenuous

Time: About 4 hours

Round Trip Trail Length: 5.5 miles

Starting Elevation: 513 ft.

Highest Elevation: 1,477 ft.

Net Elevation Gain: 964 ft.

Facilities: None

Fees: None

Mount Minsi trail in Delaware Water Gap presents challenges for social distancing.
Mount Minsi trail in Delaware Water Gap presents challenges for social distancing.

From the parking area, follow the road up to the right.  You’ll see the trailhead and AT sign. The hike takes you from there all the way to the summit of Mt. Minsi on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. It offers a mix of some flat terrain and steep uphill rocky sections. If you hike during the summer, you will be delighted with the bushes of flowering rhododendrons on both sides of the trail.

The first view comes at about the halfway point. Keep in mind that that is the best one on the trail, so take your time there. The hike gets steeper and rockier from here as it leads to a next lookout near the summit. You can follow from there to the true summit, marked by a little sign, but that is all you can find there. Once you’ve reached the “Mount Minsi” sign, turn back and follow the fire road down.

You will find this view at the top of Mount Minsi.
You will find this view at the top of Mount Minsi.
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