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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

We took a nearly 3 hour drive out to DeWaGa to see what all the fuss is about before we moved crosscountry. It was a nice place! If a place has waterfalls we're in.. and Delaware Water Gap has plenty. We visited Silverthread Falls, Raymondskill Falls, and Dingmans Falls and finished the half-day along some cliff edges (some of which were closed for peregrine falcon nesting!). Our adventures for the day kept us on the Pennsylvania side of the park.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area NPS Sign

Natural Splendor

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a stunning 70,000-acre preserve that covers a portion of the Delaware River, separating the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The park is technically in both of these states. Its key feature is the Delaware Water Gap—a geologically significant break in the Kittatinny Ridge. The area is a spectacle of natural beauty, with lush forests, abundant wildlife, waterfalls, and lakes dotting the landscape. The Delaware River meanders through the park, offering a host of recreational opportunities and serving as a lifeline for various ecosystems.


Silver Thread Falls Delaware Water Gap Trail Sign

Silver Thread Falls -- Delaware Water Gap NRA
Silver Thread Falls

Recreational Adventures

This park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, featuring over 100 miles of hiking trails. Whether you're interested in an easy riverside walk or a challenging hike up to a mountainous overlook, there's something for everyone. The river itself is a playground for water activities—kayaking, canoeing, and rafting are popular in the warmer months, while fishing is a year-round endeavor. The numerous lakes within the park also provide opportunities for boating and swimming.


Raymondskill Falls -- Delaware Water Gap NRA
Raymondskill Falls -- The Tallest Waterfall in PA!


Cultural Heritage

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is rich in history. Native American tribes such as the Lenape first inhabited this fertile region. Europeans arrived later, transforming the landscape with agriculture and industry. Millbrook Village, a re-created 19th-century community within the park, offers visitors an opportunity to step back in time through living history demonstrations. This adds an educational layer to visits, making it not just a natural retreat but also a learning experience.'

Stream at DWGNRA
A little stream!


Diverse Ecosystems

This area is a sanctuary for a myriad of plant and animal species. Visitors might encounter white-tailed deer, black bears, or even the occasional bald eagle. The park's varied landscapes—from riverbanks to mountain ridges—create diverse habitats that are invaluable for scientific research and education. The presence of wetlands also adds another layer of complexity to the region's ecology.


More waterfalls at Delaware Water Gap
More falls from behind some dead trees!


Environmental Conservation and Education

The park is actively involved in environmental conservation. Regular monitoring and protection activities aim to preserve the delicate balance of the local ecosystems. The area also serves as an educational hub, with visitor centers offering exhibitions, nature programs, and guided tours that educate the public on the significance of conservation.


Dingmans Falls Visitors Center -- Delaware Water Gapp
Dingmans Falls Visitors Center


Accessibility and Facilities

One of the park's advantages is its accessibility; it's within a few hours' drive from major urban centers like New York City and Philadelphia. This makes it an excellent option for both day trips and extended stays. Facilities such as campsites, picnic areas, and restrooms are well-maintained, ensuring a comfortable visit.

Dingmans Falls -- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Dingmans Falls!


Governance and State Participation

It's worth mentioning that the park spans two states—Pennsylvania and New Jersey—each contributing unique features and attractions. This makes the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area a collective effort, managed by the National Park Service but benefiting from the contributions and engagement of both states.

Cliff Trail Views of Delaware River -- Delaware Water Gap
Cliff Trail views of the Delaware River and its...water gap between the states.


The Year-Round Appeal

Unlike many other outdoor destinations that are season-specific, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has year-round appeal. Summers are bustling with hikers and boaters, while the cooler months attract anglers, birdwatchers, and autumn leaf-peepers. Winters transform the park into a wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.


Cliff Trail View -- Farmland Fields Delaware Water Gap
More Views from the Cliff Trail


Hidden River Brewing

Hidden River Brewing


A View from the bottom at Hidden River Brewing
I'm an old man apparently and got my hand in the picture.... view from the house and deck from the sitting area by the creek.

Hidden River Brewing is a craft brewery and taproom located in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. The brewery is housed in a historic 'haunted' stone building known as the Brinton Lodge dating back to the 1700s.

Brinton Lodge, located in Douglassville, Berks County, is a centuries-old architectural gem with a rich, eclectic history. Situated in the rural area west of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, this structure dates back to the 18th century. Initially a modest farmhouse built by the Millard family—who were among the region's first settlers and bought their land from William Penn—the property has evolved dramatically over the years.

Outdoor waterside seating at Hidden River Brewing

In 1796, ownership transitioned to the Kirlin family. They diversified the property's use by producing ammunition for the War of 1812. During this period, the Schuylkill River Canal was constructed through the land, and there were whispers that the property was a hidden station on the Underground Railroad.

Fast-forward to the early 20th century, the Wittman family, affluent entrepreneurs connected to the iron trade in Philadelphia, took over. They transformed the humble farmhouse into a grand 28-room mansion. Later, in the Prohibition era, Caleb Brinton, a hotel magnate from Reading, turned the mansion into an exclusive men's club, welcoming only the elite and well-known.

Most recently, the site functioned as Covatta's Brinton Lodge Restaurant but has since been converted into Hidden River Brewing Co., a craft brewery and brewpub. Additionally, the venue offers spooky candlelit ghost tours each month, adding yet another layer to its fascinating history. The establishment now stands as a preserved piece of local heritage for the community to explore and enjoy. I can't say we did the haunted ghost tour, but the inside of the place is fascinating. 

I never grabbed a picture but I love the coziness of the different rooms inside the house as well, they don't just have a great outside. Nothing like going there to find out it's not very busy and getting to sit near one of the fireplaces inside!

Hidden River Brewing by the water!
Nothing like a beer by the water outside!

Hidden River derives their name from the nearby Schuykill River, no the water in the picture above is not from the main river, but a small offshoot stream. Schuykill roughly translates to "Hidden River" in Dutch, hence the name! Now you know, because I didn't at first!

Hidden River Brewing is known for their creative and experimental beers, using locally sourced ingredients and unique brewing techniques. They offer a wide range of styles, from traditional Belgian farmhouse ales to modern IPAs, stouts, and sours, but do tend to focus on more hop-forward beers. In such, I'd say...they make some of the best IPAs...specifically hazy IPAs in Pennsylvania. But that's just my

In addition to their beer, Hidden River Brewing also features a taproom that offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere for visitors to enjoy their brews. The taproom has a rustic, farmhouse feel, with a bar made from reclaimed wood, exposed brick walls, and antique furnishings. There is also a cozy outdoor patio area with seating for those who prefer to enjoy their drinks in the fresh air. When its nice out you can sit down by the water as well!

They do have a small food menu and occasionally have food trucks Fridays and Saturdays as well!

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace Entrance Sign
Hopewell Furnace Entrance Sign


Set in the heart of southeastern Pennsylvania, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site stands as a testament to the early days of American industry. It's an authentic slice of the 19th century, showcasing what we'd now call an industrial complex, but back then, it was an "iron plantation." Covering a substantial 848 acres, this site is an integral part of the larger French Creek State Park. Established back in 1938 as a National Historic Site, its purpose is to safeguard the rich tapestry of America's industrial heritage and the structures that have stood the test of time, as well as to honor the hardworking people who were the backbone of this era. It also just has some really nice grounds to look at it, which of course I appreciate.

Hopewell Furnace Plaque
Hopewell Furnace Plaque


Historical Context

Established in 1771 by the enterprising ironmaster Mark Bird, Hopewell Furnace holds a special place in Pennsylvania’s industrial history. Throughout its operational years from 1771 to 1883, this furnace was a key player in supporting the young American nation. It provided crucial iron for cannonballs during the Revolutionary War and went on to produce stoves and a variety of essential cast-iron products, marking its significance in an America rapidly transitioning into an industrial era. Thanks for putting us on the map, Mark!


 Hopewell Furnace Grounds


Importance in the Iron Industry

Hopewell Furnace was a remarkable example of a self-contained community, far more than just a site for iron production. It encompassed everything necessary for a thriving community – housing for workers, orchards, gardens, and even livestock, creating a self-sufficient ecosystem. At its peak, Hopewell Furnace led the way in technological innovation. The centerpiece was its blast furnace, powered by charcoal made right there. Iron ore and limestone, the other key ingredients, were combined at intense heat to produce "pig iron." This foundational material was then refined and molded into a myriad of essential products.


Anthracite Furnace Ruins -- Hopewell Furnace
The ruins of the Anthracite Furnace!


Socioeconomic Impact

At Hopewell Furnace, the workforce was a mosaic of different backgrounds, including free and enslaved African Americans, European immigrants, and native-born whites. This diverse group comprised skilled workers like molders, colliers, and fillers, who, along with their families, formed a close-knit community around the furnace. The social structure of this community mirrored the hierarchies of the era, yet it also provided avenues for upward mobility, especially for those who possessed specialized skills.

 An Iron Furnace -- Hopewell Furnace


Preservation and Public Education

Today, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site stands as a meticulously preserved window into America's early industrial age. Visitors can explore a range of historical structures, including the blast furnace, the ironmaster's mansion, the company store, and the homes where workers lived. The site is enriched with educational programs, interactive exhibits, and living history demonstrations, all aimed at deepening the public's understanding of the iron industry's profound impact on the economic and social development of the United States.

Hopewell Furnace Water Wheel
Water wheel!


Environmental Stewardship

Hopewell Furnace offers an intriguing insight into the symbiotic relationship between industry and nature. The furnace's reliance on the surrounding forests for charcoal sparked some of the earliest forms of forest management, showcasing a forward-thinking approach to sustainability. Moreover, the local waterways weren't just picturesque landscapes; they were crucial for powering the furnace's bellows and machinery. 

This interaction with the environment is a key part of the site's educational narrative, providing visitors with valuable lessons about sustainable practices and the intricate ways humans impact ecosystems. This unique focus on ecological stewardship adds a fresh dimension to understanding our industrial past.

Charcoal Pit -- Hopewell Furnace
The charcoal pit! Rangers still demo this. The coals were crackling hot!




Hopewell Furnace offers more than a glimpse into America's industrial past; it serves as a dynamic, living history lesson. This National Historic Site intricately portrays the complexities of industrialization, social hierarchies, and community dynamics during a pivotal era in American history. 

As a symbol of national progress and the accompanying challenges, Hopewell Furnace provides a rich, nuanced exploration of the human narratives intertwined with the machinery of progress. These stories are crucial for a deeper appreciation of the multifaceted nature of American industrial heritage. This focus on both the human and technological aspects makes it a unique and valuable resource for understanding the intricate tapestry of America's past.


 Hopewell Furnace NHS


Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is a valuable cultural and educational asset that takes visitors on a journey through America’s early industrial age. From the intricacies of iron-making to the socio-economic conditions of the workers, the site offers a comprehensive look into a bygone era that had a lasting impact on the United States. Through its preservation efforts, educational programs, and interactive exhibits, Hopewell Furnace serves as a reminder of the nation’s industrial roots and as a testament to the American spirit of innovation and community.


Water Wheel Water Feed
Water for the Water Wheel


A bird in the rafters
Oh, hello there!

Hopewell Furnace Grounds
A nice day!

Hopewell Furnace Grounds
Water !

Hopewell Furnace stream
More water!

Cushwa Brewing

Cushwa Brewing

In the saturated world of craft beer, Cushwa Brewing Co. in Williamsport, Maryland, stands out as a beacon of innovation and passion. Not to be confused with Williamsport, Pennsylvania where there are other great breweries such as New Trail. 

Established by a trio of friends with diverse backgrounds, Cushwa has quickly become a favorite among beer enthusiasts, myself included! I shamelessly use and enjoy using the Untappd app. I found out about Cushwa by searching highest rated breweries within 70 miles. Cushwa was right on the border of that. It is an easy straight-shot down I-81 from Harrisburg, PA, so why not? It's a nice little one hour trip to a great brewery. 

I can't properly explain why, maybe it's the focus on NEIPAs, stouts, and fruited sours, but Cushwa reminds a bit of Ever Grain in Camp Hill, PA. My all time favorite Central PA brewery. They've done collaborations before so I'm not totally off on that one!

Cushwa Painted on the Wall of Cushwa Brewing

Cushwa's Founding and Philosophy 

Garrett Chambers, Marcus Thomas, and Scott Coleman, each with a unique professional background, founded Cushwa Brewing Co. Their collective journey from home brewing to establishing a successful microbrewery is a testament to their dedication and love for craft beer. They chose Williamsport, a spot rich in history and community spirit, to bring their vision to life. The founding ethos was simple yet profound: create exceptional beer and foster a community around it.

The Art of Brewing at Cushwa: A Symphony of Flavors

At Cushwa Brewing Co., brewing is not just a process, but an artistic endeavor that celebrates the rich tapestry of flavors. Their reputation for New England-style (Hazy) IPAs has made them a standout in the craft beer market, but their mastery goes far beyond. The brewery’s offerings are a testament to their innovative approach, where traditional brewing methods meet creative exploration.


Cushwa Bar Area
Sitting at one of the long communal tables facing the bar area. They do have normal seating for those that want to sit alone or away from others. I always want to be away from others, but since we day drink it was very quiet, LOL.


A unique highlight in their portfolio is the Electrofruit series, a testament to their prowess in crafting kettle sours. These monthly offerings showcase Cushwa's ability to infuse traditional sour beers with imaginative, vibrant flavors, creating a sensory experience that’s both refreshing and unique. The Electrofruit series, along with their other diverse offerings like the robust and flavorful Rambo imperial milk stout, illustrates the breadth of Cushwa’s brewing capabilities. Each beer is a reflection of their commitment to quality, innovation, and a desire to offer a multifaceted beer experience.

They technically don't offer flights but you are able to order 2 small pours at a time. The small pours are like 5-6 ounces if I remember correctly. 

A Hub for the Community 

Cushwa isn’t just a place to enjoy great beer; it’s a community hub. The spacious, light-filled taproom invites visitors to relax and connect. This sense of community extends to collaborations with local businesses, like the successful venture with Rad Pies, offering a delicious pizza experience right inside the brewery and expanding their beverage options to include local wines and ciders reflect their commitment to inclusivity and community engagement. I can attest to Rad Pies! They are pretty darn good and having them glass-cased inside the brewery is the ultimate plus.


C&O Canal National Historic Park -- Williamsport

C&O Canal National Historic Park -- Williamsport

We weren't sure what to expect of this place but we like to go to National Park Service sites and "collect" cancellation stamps, so why not! The park is hundreds of miles long as it follows the C&O canal itself. Along the way there are different sites and features that one can see. We went to Williamsport, MD as it was the closest site to us, and had a fantastic brewery in the city as well. There was a huge amount of fun things to do at the Williamsport location, for us at least, but it was still a cool place to visit, for some outdoors and history. Definitely an overlooked National Park Service operation.

Chesapeake and Ohio Entrance Sign
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park -- Cushwa Basin Entrance Sign

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP) is a United States National Historical Park located in the District of Columbia and the states of Maryland and West Virginia. It preserves the remains of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which was built to transport coal, lumber, and agricultural products from the Allegheny Mountains to the eastern seaboard cities, primarily Washington D.C. The park is managed by the National Park Service.

Exploring the Historical Canvas

In Williamsport, MD, the C&O Canal National Historical Park unfolds as a vibrant tableau of history and nature, allowing explorers to immerse themselves in the living remnants of the 19th-century canal life. Here, every restored lock, every aqueduct whispers tales of the innovative and industrious spirits who once breathed life into the canal, making it a bustling artery of trade and progress.


Bride over the C&O Canal
Bridge and Dead Wood over the Canal


The Pulsating Heart: Cushwa Basin

The Cushwa Basin stands out as the heartbeat of this historical odyssey, with the Cushwa Warehouse opening its doors to a time when it was teeming with goods and lively banter. This iconic structure serves as a silent storyteller, weaving narratives of vibrant commerce, resilient communities, and the rhythmic pulse of everyday life along the canal.

Brick Coal Fuel Oil -- Cushwa Warehouse
The Cushwa Warehouse -- C&O


Diverse Tapestries of Nature

The park’s essence is not confined to its historical bricks and mortar; it is also an enchanting haven of nature’s wonders. Here, verdant trails and serene towpaths unravel the delicate beauty and the rhythmic dance of diverse ecosystems. It’s a place where the whispering leaves, the gentle hum of the river, and the myriad hues of wildlife come together to compose a harmonious symphony of rejuvenation and reflection. We were actually stopped on the towpath as a few deer were claiming their space in the middle of the path. We just stopped, stared, and waited for them to move on their way. We saw geese and plenty of fish in the canal as well!

C&O Canal Cushwa Williamsport -- Locks
There are 74 locks on the C&O canal. Here is but one of them! The water unfortunately had some trash floating in it.

A Learning Odyssey

More than just a witness to bygone eras and natural splendor, the park is a vibrant learning space. Its carefully curated exhibits, engaging displays, and insightful guides illuminate the multifaceted role of the canal in shaping the economic and cultural landscapes of the nation. The educational journey here is designed to spark inquiries, ignite imaginations, and deepen the appreciation for the rich tapestry of American heritage.

Geese on the C&O Canal
If you squint real hard you can see some geese!

Wandering through Diverse Landscapes

Wandering through the park is like traversing diverse landscapes of time, culture, and nature. The lush environs invite bird watchers, hikers, and nature photographers to capture the fleeting moments of beauty and the eternal rhythms of life. The varied terrains, the shimmering waters, and the echoing woodlands create a mosaic of experiences, beckoning explorers to lose themselves in the myriad layers of existence and discovery.


C&O Canal Plaque


Enriching Encounters

Each visit to the park becomes an enriching encounter with the multifaceted aspects of existence, weaving together the strands of history, the vibrancy of nature, and the enlightening sparks of learning. Whether it’s retracing the steps of the canal workers, absorbing the tranquility of the landscapes, or unraveling the intricate patterns of cultural evolution, the park offers a treasure trove of experiences and insights for every curious soul.

R. Paul Smith Power Station -- Williamsport MD
A small cut off the path is a defunct R. Paul Smith Power Station.

In essence, the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Williamsport, MD, is not merely a destination but a living, breathing entity, a dynamic symphony of stories, landscapes, and wisdom. It invites explorers from all walks of life to delve into its rich layers, to converse with its silent narrators, and to embrace the diverse melodies of life and time. It’s a timeless journey, a continuous dialogue between the past and the present, and an eternal dance of knowledge and beauty.

 Also, while you're in Williamsport, MD and tired out after checking out C&O... head to Cushwa Brewing! Like we did.