AMC's Mohican Outdoor Center: A Deep Woods Getaway, Less than Two Hours from New York City
July 11, 2012

AMC's Mohican Outdoor Center: A Deep Woods Getaway, Less than Two Hours from New York City

Though you might never run out of great woods and green spaces to explore within the five boroughs of New York City, it is wonderful to stray further afield and explore outdoor environments as they have endured for centuries. Whether you’re an experienced tent camper or new to the idea of sleeping deep in the woods, AMC’s volunteer-run Mohican Outdoor Center makes the wilderness accessible for all families—from transportation assistance to a variety of lodging options.

Set high in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, between two ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, Mohican is the southernmost AMC lodge on the Appalachian Trail (AT). Accommodations include small and large group cabins, walk-in campsites, group campsites, and tent platforms. The facilities are open to AMC members and nonmembers. Some cabins are equipped with full-service kitchens and bathrooms; outhouses are near some smaller cabins. You can barbecue, and during summer, breakfast, a trail lunch, and dinner are available for purchase in the main lodge.

Outdoor Activities and Education

Mohican is both a destination unto itself and a well-positioned launch point for dozens of hikes through the area’s vast wilderness, including the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail (long and short loops) both of which offer beautiful mountain views along the Appalachian Trail, and the Coppermine Trail which features a scenic waterfall.

Catfish Pond, a 60-acre glacial lake whose shoreline is blanketed with lily pads, is the centerpiece of the Mohican Outdoor Center. Paddling around it is the quintessence of serenity. Canoes, kayaks, and personal flotation devices are stored at the large stone boathouse on the pond’s eastern shore; visitors can rent them  across from the visitor center. Paddle toward the left branch of the pond’s Y-shaped southern shoreline and you can see the chimney park barbecue area. Go all the way down the right branch, and you will see the interpretive center.

The overland route to the interpretive center is a flat though sometimes rocky path through thick woods dotted with tent sites. The center has informational posters on animal tracks, butterflies, snakes, birds, and more. There is also a simple display with animal riddles and fur samples for moose, deer, and beavers, and an array of books covering the natural world. It is a place for independent study to complement the range of guided programs that Mohican offers. These include seasonal hikes, canoe and kayak excursions, and rock-climbing courses, as well as classes on topics such as digital photography and sketching.

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears—Oh My!

No lions and tigers, of course, but do be aware that black bears inhabit the woods in northwest New Jersey. We encountered one high on the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail and followed the recommended guidelines: we kept our distance, banded together to form a more intimidating-looking figure, and moved slowly away.

That leads us to how the trail itself earned its name. This area of the Delaware Water Gap includes a rattlesnake preservation site. You can hear them in the woods, and we saw one en route to the small Catfish Pond beach. They do not attack unprovoked, and snake encounters can mostly be avoided by staying on designated trails and advising children not to put their hands or feet into crevices in rocks, holes in trees, or under logs.

Leave the City (and Your Car!) Behind

Mohican is about 90 minutes west of New York City. AMC’s shuttle van service from New York City to Mohican Outdoor Center makes a weekend getaway possible without having to rent a car. Service is available from July 6 through October 26, departing New York City at 3 p.m. on Fridays (from the Pennsylvania Hotel on 7th Avenue, between 32nd and 33rd streets), and returning on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Reservations must be made by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for the Friday departure. The round-trip fare is $40 for AMC members and $65 for nonmembers. For more information or to make reservations, call AMC's Reservations Line, at (603) 466-2727, Monday through Saturday, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., or email amclodging@outdoors.org.

Reservations for overnight stays are also required and fees vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose. For more information, visit outdoors.org/lodging/Mohican or call (908) 362-5670. Cabins have bunk beds but you must bring your own sleeping bags or linens.

If want to try tent camping but don’t want to invest in (or store) all the necessary equipment, some camping stores, such as Gear to Go Outfitters in Brooklyn, will rent you all you need—and apply the rental fee to any purchases you may want to make afterwards.

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