Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area | APPALACHIAN TRAIL: BUTTERMILK FALLS TO CRATER LAKE

Appalachian Trail between the Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake trails in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Appalachian Trail between the Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake trails in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Length: 1.3 mile
Time:  30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy

I picked up the Appalachian Trail (AT) after hiking the very strenuous Buttermilk Falls Trail from the parking lot on Mountain Road. My plan was to hike south on the AT to the Blue Mountain Lake area of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and hike the Crater Lake and Hemlock Pond trails.

Map for the Appalachian Trail hike between the Buttermilk Falls Trail and Crater Lake in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Map for the Appalachian Trail hike between the Buttermilk Falls Trail and Crater Lake in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Just past the intersection with the Buttermilk Falls Trail is a fork. There is no directional signage, but logs have been placed across the trail that goes straight head, suggesting that the AT continues to the right, which it does.

The Appalachian Trail forks to the right just past the intersection with the Buttermilk Falls Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Appalachian Trail forks to the right just past the intersection with the Buttermilk Falls Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

After hiking up the Buttermilk Falls Trail, which is a 1.6-mile hike straight up a mountain with half of the trail looking like a landslide of rocks had hit it, this 1.3-mile segment of the AT was a pleasure. It covers fairly level terrain, and other than a rocky section for the first tenth of a mile past the Buttermilk Falls Trail, the AT is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Typical terrain on the Appalachian Trail between the Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake trails in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Typical terrain on the Appalachian Trail between the Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake trails in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Short section of rocky terrain on the Appalachian Trail just south of the Buttermilk Falls Trail intersection, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Short section of rocky terrain on the Appalachian Trail just south of the Buttermilk Falls Trail intersection, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

If you only have the trail map that comes with the Guide to the Gap, a free tabloid-size publication with maps of all the trails in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, you are bound to get confused at the Crater Lake and Hemlock Pond intersections because the map does not have enough detail. It makes it look as if the AT dead ends at a T-intersection, with a left leading to Hemlock Pond and a right to Crater Lake. This is not the case. The AT first comes to the intersection with the Hemlock Pond Trail, where it forks off to the left while the Hemlock Pond Trail is a right-hand turn.

Intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Hemlock Pond Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Hemlock Pond Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

A hundred yards later is a triangular-shaped intersection with a pile of boulders in the middle. This is the intersection with the Crater Lake Trail. The AT continues to the right, and it and the Crater Lake Trail are now one in the same until the two split for good .3 mile ahead. If you stay left at the intersection, you will be hiking the Crater Lake Trail in the clockwise direction and heading towards the parking lot.

Intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Crater Lake Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Crater Lake Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Appalachian Trail eventually splits off to the right from the Crater Lake Trail at a rock slab that you cannot miss (white blazes on the rock indicate the turn). It then curves back to the left and crosses the Crater Lake Trail another hundred yards ahead before continuing south all the way to Georgia. This split ended my hike on the AT, and I continued around the Crater Lake Trail in the counterclockwise direction.

Appalachian Trail splits from the Crater Lake Trail at a slab of rock, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Appalachian Trail splits from the Crater Lake Trail at a slab of rock, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

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Last updated on February 4, 2024
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