An Adventurer's Guide to the Delaware River Towns
By Colleen Morrison
From amazing views to scenic trails to beautiful parks to thrilling water sports, the Delaware River Towns have everything to satisfy the needs of any outdoor adventure enthusiast. Here are a few must-experience activities every adventure-seeker must take on when taking a day or weekend trip to the River Towns (and don’t forget your camera!):
Washington Crossing Historic Park
1112 River Rd., Washington Crossing, PA
For adventurous history buffs, Washington Crossing Park is the perfect location for a day of outdoor fun. Explore the historic land, where George Washington crossed the Delaware during the Revolutionary War, and sites with 500 acres of memorials, a combined distance of 7.2 miles of walking/hiking trails and countless scenic photo-ops. Open from dusk until dawn, take a tree-lined, easy-going hike and enjoy the natural beauty of Bucks County, then relax with the sunset on the waterfront.
Bowman’s Hill Tower
Bowman’s Hill Tower, a 125-foot-tall structure, presides over Bucks County and offers the best 14-mile views on a clear day. Though it was never used as such, the Tower was built to commemorate a storied lookout spot once used by Washington and his army to watch over the Delaware. Visitors can choose to ride an elevator to (almost) the top of the tower or climb the stairs the entire way up, and is open seven days a week, weather permitting.
Goat Hill Overlook
For a beautiful view of the Delaware, the surrounding mountains, the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge, and adjoining River Towns, Goat Hill Overlook needs to be on any adventurer’s and photographer’s list of must-see places to see in Lambertville. It takes a little effort to find this perfect picnic spot, but the views are worth a little adventurous, dirt-road driving; follow Goat Hill Road until it branches off into George Washington Road, and park at the fork. The walk up is about a mile, easily hiked by all ages, with a few short trails along the way that are worth taking a peek at as well. Once at the top, catch your breath, then be ready to have it taken away.
Fun on the River
Bull’s Island Recreation Area
2185 Daniel Bray Highway, Stockton, NJ
For those who are split between taking a scenic hike, leisurely camping, fishing or paddling down the river, Bull’s Island has everything to satisfy any adventure-seeker’s needs. Lace up your hiking shoes for the over 30 miles of trails, picnic areas, and overlook points, and pack your binoculars to spot more than 100 species of birds that call Bull’s Island home. Put on your life vest and rent a canoe or kayak and ride the river all day, or hitch up a trailer, skewer some hot dogs and camp out for the night.
Bucks County River Country
2 Walters Ln., Point Pleasant, PA
For the ultimate day of active adventure on the river, Bucks County River Country has all of your favorite water activities to suit any adventurer’s mood. Rent a kayak or canoe for a more intimate river experience exploring the banks and tiny islands that crop up along the way or choose to relax and drift lazily down the river in an inner-tube. Whichever method you choose to explore the river, it’s a great way to take in the natural beauty of the river and the surrounding area’s mountains and scenery.
Wells Ferry Boat Rides
22 N. Main St., New Hope, PA (behind The Landing Restaurant)
Take on the river in style. The American flag-clad, 37-foot-long, open-air boat named “Star of New Hope” is a typical, welcome site on the river and a great way feel the wind in your hair on a scenic boat ride while also learning a little history about the Delaware River and River Towns. The boat leaves the dock every hour, on the hour from noon to 6 p.m. every weekend from May through November, weather permitting.
Bucks County Wine Trail
Various locations including Washington Crossing and New Hope, PA
Enjoy a weekend exploring the wonderful world of wine on the Bucks County Wine trail, featuring nine unique wineries just minutes apart for easy winery hopping. On the tour, especially don’t miss the River Towns’ Crossing Vineyards, which has award-winning wines and a variety of classes, or New Hope Winery, a quaint wine and gift shop housed in a rustic barn. Take a self-guided walk through the vineyards or call ahead to make arrangements for private group tastings and tours.
Cycle & Sip
Washington Crossing Historic Park- 1112 River Rd, Washington Crossing, PA 18977
Scenic, guided round trip bike ride from Washington Crossing Historic Park to Lambertville/New Hope then proceed to Crossing Vineyards winery for tasting and tour.. Reservations required minimum of 24 hours in advance. Admission: $45
Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal Tow Path
Various entry points
For the ultimate River Towns biking adventure, bikers of all ages and experience will have a blast exploring the D&R Canal Tow Path, which connects all of the River Towns on the NJ side along the canal. For a leisurely day of riding, park in Stockton at Bull’s Island and ride a few miles south into Lambertville for lunch and ice cream. Or, for the more extreme rider, start in Frenchtown and take on the 23 miles of canal path south to Washington Crossing State Park (NJ). The path is an easy, flat ride without surprise twists and turns or big hills to conquer, which is good because with the canal on one side and vast woods on the other, you’ll be taking a lot of time to stop and look around at the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Adventurer Bonus: Look out for the three abandoned train cars in the Lambertville section of the Tow Path. A popular photo-op spot along the trail, local artists have decorated the rusted behemoths with colorful street art, paint and stickers, making something beautiful out of what could have been a blight on the scenic trail.
Delaware and Leigh (D&L) National Heritage Corridor Trail
Various entry points
The fun isn’t all on the NJ side. In PA, the D&L canal path is 175 miles long, starting up near Wilkes-Barre and ending in Bristol, and runs through the River Towns on the PA side. To hit them all, start in Point Pleasant and work your way south about 16 miles through Lumberville, New Hope and Washington Crossing (PA).
Bike rentals: Need a bike? Here a few places you can find along the trails that have you covered with hourly, daily and multi-day bike and helmet rentals for all sizes of adventurers!
Cycle Corner of Frenchtown
52 Bridge St., Frenchtown, NJ
New Hope Cyclery
404 York Rd., New Hope, PA
Pure Energy Cycling and Java House
99 S. Main St., Lambertville, NJ