Hiking

Catfish Fireplace Tower – Delaware Water Hole

March 14, 2021 – Hardwick Township, NJ

Problem: Average

Size: Roughly 4.5 miles

Max elevation: 1,560 ft.– whole elevation achieve roughly 528 ft.

Route sort: Out and again

Map: Delaware Water Hole & Kittatinny Trails Map – 2021

Trailhead parking: Appalachian Path, Millbrook Highway, Hardwick Township, NJ 07825


Overview:

The Delaware Water Hole Nationwide Recreation Space, spanning Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is a novel unit of the nationwide park system. It takes its identify from the enduring geological characteristic at its southern finish, Delaware Water Hole. The Delaware Water Hole encompasses practically 70,000 acres of breathtaking surroundings alongside 40 miles of the Delaware River, which winds by way of the Appalachian Mountains. The park options waterfalls and plenty of out of doors actions, together with canoeing, climbing, tenting, swimming, biking, cross-country snowboarding, fishing and extra.

Essentially the most distinguished geographical options of Northern New Jersey are the Kittatinny Mountains, and its foothills within the NJ Highlands. Recognized to the Lenni Lenape as Kittatinny, or “countless mountain,” the Ridge offers a bounty of leisure alternatives. Catfish Mountain is a peak of the Kittatinny Mountains in Warren County, NJ. The mountain stands at an elevation 1,560 toes. It lies alongside the Appalachian Path within the Delaware Water Hole Nationwide Recreation Space. The Kittatinny Valley (additionally known as the Limestone Valley) lies nearly on to the east of the path, whereas the Delaware Water Hole lies to its west.

On the summit of Catfish Mountain is the Catfish Fireplace Tower. The Appalachian Path runs proper alongside it and makes for an incredible focal point for hikers passing by way of. On a transparent day, you possibly can see the Catskill Mountains to the north and the Poconos to the west. The Tower, also referred to as Catfish Station was constructed in 1922, changing a picket tower. In 1993 the 7×7-foot cab was rebuilt on this 60’ Aermotor LS-40 tower. 

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower


Historical past:

Although put aside as an space for out of doors recreation, the land of this park is wealthy in historical past.

The park encompasses important Native American archeological websites, a number of of which have been investigated.

Various buildings additionally stay from early Dutch settlement and the colonial contact interval. The whole area was a frontier of the French & Indian Battle. Historic rural villages from the 18th and nineteenth centuries stay intact on the New Jersey facet, and landscapes of previous settlements are scattered all through the park.

Within the nineteenth century, the village of Delaware Water Hole was a spotlight of the early resort business fostered by the railroads. Even at this time the area is thought for its trip enchantment.

In 1960 the Military Corps of Engineers set upon a mission to construct a dam at Tocks Island, simply north of the Water Hole. This dam would management water ranges for hydroelectric energy technology and create a 37 mile lake to be used as a reservoir. A smaller surrounding recreation space, to make a extra “value efficient” dam, could be administered by the Nationwide Park Service.

Tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} have been appropriated and work started to arrange the realm for flooding. Three to 5 thousand dwellings have been demolished. Some fifteen thousand folks have been displaced, lots of whom represented 300 years and 13 generations of historical past and tradition within the Higher Delaware Valley. A serene area of farms, hamlets and villages alongside a free flowing river was systematically dismantled as a part of a plan that was ultimately shelved. There was passionate opposition from many corners to the federal government’s agenda. A number of the extra seen historic houses have been quickly spared solely to be destroyed by squatters and arsonists. For 18 years the valley was the location of a weird free-for-all with an unpredictable consequence.

Lastly, in 1978 the mission was deemed economically & environmentally unsound, and the federal government, as an alternative of promoting again the remaining 83 houses to unique house owners, transferred the properties to the Nationwide Park Service. The Delaware River was positioned below the safety of the Scenic Rivers Act.


Trails Overview:

The Delaware Water Hole Nationwide Recreation Space has greater than 100 miles of climbing trails alongside streams, ridges, and mountaintops. The paths are of various issue and any variety of loop hikes might be achieved utilizing connecting trails.

The Appalachian Nationwide Scenic Path (AT) extends alongside the backbone of the Appalachian Mountains from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine. Of the two,174 miles of path, 28 miles are inside the Delaware Water Hole Nationwide Recreation Space. Whether or not climbing for a few hours, for the day, or for your entire size of the path, the AT offers alternatives for majestic views, wildlife sightings, and climbing challenges.

Appalachian Trail - Delaware Water Gap

Appalachian Path – Delaware Water Hole


Hike Overview:

This hike begins the place the white-blazed Appalachian Path (AT) crosses Millbrook Highway and heads south. Right here, a gravel highway, blocked by a gate (marked “Fireplace Highway – Do Not Block”), goes off to the left (if coming from the south). Restricted parking is obtainable on the trailhead, but when no areas can be found, proceed north for an additional 500 toes to a second parking space on the fitting facet of the highway the place the AT leaves the highway.

Appalachian Trail - Millbrook Road

Appalachian Path – Millbrook Highway

This hike is an easy out and again, totally on the Appalachian Path (AT). The path is effectively marked and simple to comply with. The hike begins at Millbrook Highway, travels south alongside the AT, previous the Catfish Fireplace Tower and alongside the Kittatinny Ridge with a number of good view factors alongside the way in which. The flip round spot is simply previous the junction with the Rattlesnake Swamp Path.

Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

Catfish Fireplace Tower – Delaware Water Hole

The climb to achieve the Kittatinny Ridge would be the most strenuous a part of the hike, and it’s not that tough and brief lived. As soon as on the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with a number of scenic viewpoints together with the Catfish Fireplace Tower which is a well-liked spot to cease and luxuriate in a picnic. From the hearth tower, the remainder of the way in which alongside the ridge consists of some minor ups and downs, so one can benefit from the scenic ridge stroll with out working too arduous.

elevation profile - Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

elevation profile – Catfish Fireplace Tower – Delaware Water Hole

Please word: This hike might be carried out as a loop by returning on the Rattlesnake Swamp Path. Understand that the Rattlesnake Swamp Path has quite a few small stream crossings and the Rattlesnake Swamp could make this path very moist. After the current thaw and runoff, and chatting with a number of hikers that described the path as extraordinarily moist and mucky, we determined to skip this path and retrace our steps alongside the AT.

This part of the AT is extraordinarily rocky all through. A superb pair of climbing boots is completely really useful.


The Hike:

Upon arriving on the trailhead, all of the parking spots have been taken. We drove about one other 500 toes the place the AT leaves the highway and reenters the woods heading northbound. There’s a small parking space there and that’s the place we started the hike. Leaving the parking space, we turned left and adopted the white blazes alongside the highway. In about 500 toes, the AT crosses the highway on the different parking space by the hearth highway.

Millbrook Road, westbound parking area

Millbrook Highway, westbound parking space

Appalachian Trail - Millbrook Road

Appalachian Path – Millbrook Highway

From the gate, proceed forward on the gravel highway, marked with the white blazes of the Appalachian Path (A.T.). In a few quarter of a mile, the highway curves sharply proper and enters a rhododendron grove. A brief distance past, the white blazes of the A.T. depart to the left

Appalachian Trail - Millbrook Road

Appalachian Path – Millbrook Highway

Appalachian Trail - southbound

Appalachian Path – southbound

Appalachian Trail - southbound

Appalachian Path – southbound

Appalachian Trail - southbound

Appalachian Path – southbound

In about 0.4 mile from the gate, the AT turns left, leaving the hearth highway and begins climbing on a footpath. The fireplace highway continues forward and connects to the Rattlesnake Swamp Path. The fireplace highway can be used as a substitute for the AT to achieve the hearth tower.

turn left on Appalachian Trail, leaving the fire road

flip left on Appalachian Path, leaving the hearth highway

The AT now begins a gentle ascent of Catfish Mountain on a rocky footpath bordered by Rhododendrons.

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Path – Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Path – Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Path – Catfish Mountain

At roughly 0.6 mile, the AT turns left to rejoin the gravel hearth highway after which turns proper 300 ft. later to reenter the woods on a footpath. 

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Path – Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail turns right, leaving the fire road

Appalachian Path turns proper, leaving the hearth highway

We opted to stay on the hearth highway (left fork) which is a barely longer route, however was extra freed from snow than was the AT. 

fire road - Catfish Mountain

hearth highway – Catfish Mountain

Quickly the hearth highway rejoins the AT, which is available in from the fitting and climbs slightly extra to achieve the location of the Catfish Fireplace Tower.

the fire road rejoins the Appalachian Trail

the hearth highway rejoins the Appalachian Path

Roughly 1 mile from the gate and about 300 toes of elevation achieve, the Appalachian Path reaches Catfish Fireplace Tower. A picnic desk close to the bottom of the tower makes for a great spot to take a break earlier than climbing the tower.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower

Inbuilt 1922 to interchange a picket tower, the Catfish Fireplace Tower also referred to as Catfish Station, is among the oldest within the state. At 60 toes tall, it isn’t the tallest hearth tower in New Jersey. Nonetheless, at an elevation of 1,560 toes above sea degree, it’s the highest.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower

In 1993, the Catfish Fireplace Tower’s 7×7-foot cab was rebuilt and the tower rededicated. Catfish Station continues to be an energetic hearth tower at this time. It was listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations on December 15, 1997.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower

Fireplace Towers are thought of to be the “Sentinels of the Ridge tops” as they’re raised effectively above the bottom in order that the “lookout” within the tower can relay coordinates to firefighters as to the place they’re seeing smoke. Skilled hearth observers employees these towers and use an instrument known as a Osborne Fireplace Finder, also referred to as an alidade, and topographical maps to triangulate the placement of doable wildfires. After pin pointing a location floor crews go in and examine to plan the suitable motion to be taken. At the very least one tower in every division is staffed when hearth hazard is reasonable or increased and all towers are staffed through the months of March, April, Might, October and November.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower

The cabin was locked on our go to, however the 360° views from just under it are great. Under is a picture wanting on the Appalachian Path touring south.

view southwest from Catfish Fire Tower

view southwest from Catfish Fireplace Tower

A zoomed in view of Higher Yards Creek Reservoir and Mount Tammany.

view southwest from Catfish Fire Tower

view southwest from Catfish Fireplace Tower

A zoomed in view of Higher Yards Creek Reservoir

zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir from Catfish Fire Tower

zoomed in view of Higher Yards Creek Reservoir from Catfish Fireplace Tower

A southwestern view of the Kittatinny Ridge in direction of Pennsylvania. 

southwest view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fire Tower

southwest view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fireplace Tower

The Kittatinny Ridge wanting northeast the place the Appalachian Path travels north.

northeast view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fire Tower

northeast view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fireplace Tower

A glider floating by in the early morning

A glider floating by within the early morning

In case you had sufficient views and wish to simply do a brief 2 mile hike, you possibly can retrace your steps and return to your car. In case you want to proceed, proceed south on the AT alongside the ridge which is effectively marked and etched onto the floor of the ridge. From the hearth tower, the AT embarks on a rocky footpath that at occasions might be actual ankle breaker. The completely different dimension jagged rocks, ranging in dimension, makes it’s a must to think about the place you place your toes. 

Appalachian Trail - Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

In a few 1/2 mile, there’s a east-facing view of the Nice Valley. This viewpoint is denoted on the NY/NJ Path Convention map with a star ★. This makes for an additional great place to take a break in case you are so inclined.

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

Persevering with south on the AT, it runs shut sufficient to the sting of the ridge that there are many restricted and a few extra expansive views over the Nice Valley to the east alongside this stretch of the path, particularly throughout leaf-off seasons.

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

In about 2 miles from the gate on Millbrook Highway, the Appalachian Path reaches the junction with the orange-blazed Rattlesnake Swamp Path, marked with picket posts.

AT/Rattlesnake Swamp Trail junction – Kittatinny Ridge

AT/Rattlesnake Swamp Path junction – Kittatinny Ridge

There’s a good vast view over farms and forest within the valley under and alongside the ridge.

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Higher Yards Creek Reservoir within the distance.

zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir from Appalachian Trail on the Kittatinny Ridge

zoomed in view of Higher Yards Creek Reservoir from Appalachian Path on the Kittatinny Ridge

This marked our flip round spot, however in the event you want to proceed a bit farther there are extra views available. The AT ultimately descends to Camp Highway then climbs again as much as the ridge.

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

Warning ought to be exercised alongside this part, particularly in moist situations, because the path comes extraordinarily near the sting with a steep drop-off to 1 facet. 

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

We relaxed right here for a bit and chatted with a number of hikers that handed by. 

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Path – Kittatinny Ridge

We then retraced our steps alongside the Appalachian Path, stopping at each viewpoint once more, in addition to the Catfish Fireplace Tower. From the hearth tower we descended the identical approach we got here up and returned to the trailhead on Millbrook Highway, the place the hike started.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fireplace Tower

Overview:

A fantastic hike alongside the AT on the Kittatinny Ridge within the Delaware Water Hole. The 360° hearth tower views are excellent and the stroll alongside the ridge provides many extra. Comparatively little foot site visitors in comparison with the extra widespread hikes within the space. Definitely worth the 1-1/2 hour drive from the Hudson Valley. The one draw back was that the cab of the hearth tower was locked and is simply open when there’s a ranger on obligation.

Execs:

Catfish Fireplace Tower, 360° views from hearth tower, historic Appalachian Path, scenic ridgetop with quite a few views, effectively marked path.

Cons:

Cabin in hearth tower is locked and never accessible except there’s a ranger on obligation.


Take a hike!

Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

Catfish Fireplace Tower – Delaware Water Hole


Sources:



Related Articles

Back to top button