McDade Recreational Trail – Pitman Orchard to Conashaugh
Directions to trailhead
I-80 to exit 34B (Jefferson/Sparta); follow Route 15 North for 18 miles then continue on Route 206 North for 16 miles. After crossing the toll bridge over the Delaware River, turn left on Route 209 (Federal Road). Drive 2 miles then turn left into the McDade Recreational Trail gravel parking lot along east side of Route 209. There is no sign but you will see an information board in the parking lot.
The McDade Recreational Trail is a multi-use trail for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Initially the 2.7-mile section north of this hike and another unconnected 5-mile section farther south were the only parts completed and available for use. As of September 25, 2010, the entire McDade Recreational Trail is finished and interconnects continuously for 32 miles.
A short connector trail to the left of the information board in the parking lot takes you to the McDade Recreational Trail at Pitman Orchard. For this hike turn right on the McDade Trail, which is more of a grassy road but eventually becomes a gravel trail.
At 0.7 mile cross a bridge over Raymondskill Creek. The gravel trail continues to a second bridge at one mile. After crossing this bridge the gravel trail ends, becoming a dirt footpath heading towards the Delaware River, then following parallel to the river.
Where the grade now descends steeply along the narrow strip of land between Route 209 and the Delaware River, it was not possible to continue the six-foot wide gravel surface of the trail. The alternative was to carve a dirt foot trail into the side of the hill. This attractive trail flows up and down and twists around following the natural landscape while offering unobstructed views of the river - sometimes right on the river and other times from a ledge above. Traffic noise from Route 209 cannot be avoided but the views should make up for it.
At 1.4 miles the trail switchbacks down sharply and steeply to the left. At 2.1 miles the trail emerges on to an access parking lot on Route 209. From this point the trail continues south along route 209 as the wide gravel trail it started out as. For this hike, turn around here and retrace your steps back into and through the woods. You won't feel like you are following the same path back as the views of the river will be different heading north.
At 4.2 miles watch for the short access trail to the parking lot on the left.
Date of hike: September 18, 2010
[ 0.0] Right on McDade Recreational Trail from parking lot access road.
[ 0.4] Cross bridge over creek.
[ 1.0] Cross second bridge; gravel trail ends and becomes dirt path
[ 1.4] Trail switchbacks steeply down to the left.
[ 2.1] Parking lot at Route 209; turn around and head back.
[ 2.8] Trail switchbacks steeply uphill to the left.
[ 3.2] Cross over bridge; shortly after trail turns back to gravel
[ 3.8] Cross over bridge.
[ 4.2] Left on access trail that goes to the parking lot