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Lenape Ridge/Minisink Trail Loop
This loop hike follows the Lenape Ridge just outside of Port Jervis, NY, with interesting vegetation and panoramic views
Allowed on leash
Views, Public Transportation
Take N.J. Route 17 North to the New York State Thruway (I-87). Proceed north on the Thruway to Exit 16 and take N.Y. Route 17 West to Exit 121W (I-84/Port Jervis). Continue on I-84 West to Exit 1 (U.S. 6). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp and continue to the second traffic light. Turn sharply right onto Minisink Avenue and continue for 0.5 mile to the white-blazed trailhead on the left (the road changes its name to Old Greenville Turnpike after 0.3 mile; the trail enters the woods on the left just beyond 18 Old Greenville Turnpike).
Take the Metro-North Port Jervis Line to the Port Jervis station. From the station, take the Delaware River Heritage Trail (www.minisink.org/trail.html) for about two miles to the Route 6 bridge over the Neversink River. Near a DRHT historic sign on the west bank of the river, look for three white blazes on a telephone pole, indicating the trailhead of the Lenape Ridge Trail. Follow the trail across the bridge, then turn left onto Minisink Avenue; the trail follows this road for about half a mile until it enters the woods on the left.
The trails followed on this hike are situated on land acquired by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and were blazed in early 2007 by volunteers. It is anticipated that these trails will be extended in the near future to link with the Shawangunk Ridge Trail, thus making possible a hike along the ridge all the way from Port Jervis to the Mohonk Preserve. Click here to download a map of this trail loop.
From the trailhead, head north on a woods road, following the white blazes of the Lenape Ridge Trail. In a few hundred feet, as the road curves to the right, the white blazes turn sharply right. Follow the Lenape Ridge Trail which climbs on a footpath, passing through an attractive forest of deciduous trees and white pines, with an understory of blueberries and ferns.
In another few minutes, you’ll reach a fork where the red-blazed Minisink Trail goes off to the left. This red-blazed trail will be your return route, but for now, bear right and continue ahead on the white-blazed trail. Soon, the trail begins to climb on switchbacks towards the ridge, then levels off just below the ridge. Here, the forest is composed of deciduous trees and hemlocks, with a number of sprouts of American chestnut. Although decimated by the chestnut blight over a century ago, chestnut seedlings still sprout from the roots of trees that have been killed by the blight and often reach a height of about 20 feet before succumbing to this disease.
After crossing two woods roads, the trail reaches the crest of the ridge in a dense hemlock grove. It continues to head north along the ridge and soon emerges onto an open area with rock outcrops. The outcrops along the ridge are formed of shale, a relatively soft and crumbly rock, which has been uplifted and slanted at sharp angles.
In about a quarter of a mile, you’ll reach a panoramic viewpoint over the Shawangunk Ridge. The High Point Monument (which marks the highest point in the state of New Jersey) is visible to the right, and you can see (and, unfortunately, hear) the traffic as it makes its way up the ridge on Interstate Route 84. You’ll want to stop here to take in the view.
Continue north along the ridge and, in another half a mile, you’ll reach another viewpoint, this one marked by pitch pines and cedars. There is a third broad viewpoint another quarter of a mile along the ridge. From here, you can look down through the trees at Heinlein Pond. Just past this viewpoint, the trail goes through a thick hemlock forest.
After following an open section of the ridge (with views to the east blocked by trees), the trail turns sharply right and descends slightly. Soon, the trail briefly joins a woods road which comes up from the left, then turns left, leaving the road.
In another quarter of a mile, you’ll reach a junction where the red-blazed Minisink Trail joins from the left. Continue ahead, now following both white and red blazes, and you’ll emerge onto a power line clearing, which affords a broad west-facing view over tranquil farmland.
After taking in the view, retrace your steps back to the trail junction and turn right to proceed south on the red-blazed Minisink Trail. You’re now following the western side of the ridge and paralleling the Metro-North Port Jervis Line, which is visible periodically immediately to the west (right). Unlike the trail along the eastern side of the ridge, which is nearly level, the trail along the western face features a number of rather steep ups and downs.
The Minisink Trail descends rather steeply through a hemlock grove, passes an attractive stand of rhododendron at the base of the descent, then climbs again to emerge onto an exposed section of the ridge, with west-facing views. The trail next descends through a dense understory of blueberry and continues through a hemlock grove.
Upon reaching an outcrop of massive boulders, the trail turns right and descends steeply along the boulders. After a short level stretch, the trail again begins to climb, with a short side trail leading out towards the railroad tracks to the right. Soon, the trail begins to run along the side of a hill. It then parallels a steep escarpment to the right and passes some more rock outcrops to the left.
After about two miles of hiking along the western side of the ridge, the trail joins a woods road for a short distance, then bears left and continues on a footpath. A quarter mile beyond, you’ll reach the junction where the red trail ends. Turn right and follow the white-blazed Lenape Ridge Trail back to the trailhead.