Coppermine Trail: A Rigorous, and Beautiful, Intergenerational Hike
August 22, 2013

Coppermine Trail: A Rigorous, and Beautiful, Intergenerational Hike

“OMG! That one looks scary!” Halina, our seven-year-old daughter, exclaimed upon seeing a saucer-sized, black, bumpy mushroom. We were near the end of the westbound journey on Coppermine Trail, heading out to the Delaware River from AMC’s Mohican Outdoor Center in the Delware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  We had spent the hike pointing out the great variety of mushrooms that thrived on the damp, sun-dappled ground.  Much as our children love traditional hiking for hiking’s sake, we like to propel ourselves along by playing variations of “I Spy” and as it would turn out, their grandparents, Nana Beth and Opi-Din, were quite expert at it. 

On the way out, mushrooms were on our radar and the goal was to find as many diverse varieties as we could. Among the colors we saw were red, pink, bluish purple, neon orange, muted orange, yellow, golden, beige, a pure white variety that looked just like ping-pong ball, and the scary-looking bumpy black one. They also came in all shapes and apparent textures (we didn’t touch any): round, concave, convex, slimy looking, lumpy, and dry and cracked.

On the return trip, we set our sights on the variety of patterns we could find in the gray, mica-lined gneiss rocks that dominate the area (and in parks around New York City). We saw specimens small and enormous, with inch-wide streaks, a checkerboard pattern, fine white lines, parallelograms, and stripes that started out wide and tapered into oblivion. 

We also saw a bright-orange salamander—which fascinated Riley, who’s 10, in particular for its lack of camouflage against a very dark—any number of tiny toads, and lots of centipedes and millipedes. Fortunately, we didn’t see any bears or snakes as we have previously on hikes around Mohican. 

Hike Logistics and Characteristics

As an intergenerational group (see more about our weekend in last week’s post), we needed a journey that we could all manage. On a previous visit, we had done the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail sans grandparents and found it quite steep, rocky, and challenging in parts. Billed as “moderately difficult” and not very steep, the Coppermine Trail, a 4.5 mile loop out to the Delaware River, seemed like a good fit. The Visitor Center also sells and lends walking sticks which those at both ends of the age span used to traverse a few particularly gnarly stretches of exposed roots and stone.

The trail declines slightly but steadily on the way out which, of course, means an incline for most of the return trip. From the Visitor Center, turn right on Camp road and right again onto the Appalachian Trail. Cross a footbridge and, following the AT’s white blazes, maneuver your way along a rocky stretch to the red-blazed Coppermine Trail. Follow the red blazes for the entire journey (you will past two junctions with the blue-blazed Kaiser Road Trail).  The path is clearly visible and easy to follow, but it consists of rocky stretches and areas of exposed roots. 

For most of the journey, we were in earshot of a swiftly running stream, and about two-thirds of the way in, we were treated to a stunning green vista: a steep mountain valley with a series of small waterfalls. Taking care not to trample the ferns that thrive throughout the area, most of us picked our way over to the falls and waded around. At this point, the Delaware River is about .75 miles away. 

We also made a brief detour up to an old copper mine vent (hence the name of the trail) that was closed but nonetheless informative. A sign explained that the tunnel was closed in order to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed around 6 million bats in the Northeast.  

From there, the trail descends sharply at points to Old Mine Road. Across the street are a parking lot, large map, and portable toilet. Beyond that is a narrow trail through high grass that leads to a very small clearing that overlooks a calm and murky nook in the Delaware River. It was a gorgeous, sunny Saturday and along the way, we passed about a dozen people and two large dogs on leashes. 

Group Assessment of Coppermine Trail

Nana Beth and Opi-Din are well-traveled world hikers and helped us compare our trip to other trails they’ve experienced. Opi-Din made the observation that such rocky, rooty terrain characterizes “older east coast mountain ranges” as compared to the Rocky Mountains where he and Nana Beth had just been hiking on well-packed dirt trails. 

There were a few moments when we thought that maybe the hike was more than we had bargained for, but once we were back at Mohican and relaxing outside Sunset View cabin, we made a plan to do it again next year.  

 

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