The Middle Delaware River is for those recreational users who wish to enjoy a more solitary river experience in a relatively untamed setting. It stands apart from the upper and lower sections, because most of this stretch of river and the land around it is part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA). It is managed by the National Park Service, and is a National Recreation Trail.
The character of the river changes as it turns sharply just south of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River at Matamoras, Pennsylvania and Port Jervis, New York. The river leaves the Appalachian Plateau and enters the Ridge and Valley geophysical province. The whitewater of the upper sections is also left behind as the river becomes wider and slower. US Route 209 parallels the river on the Pennsylvania side, while Old Mine Road, one of North America’s oldest continually used roads, follows the river on the New Jersey side.
One of the more secluded and scenic stretches in the middle of DWGNRA is Walpack Bend, a long “S” turn in the river that begins where the Bushkill Creek enters on the Pennsylvania side, and ends just below the Big Flatbrook on the New Jersey side. Below Walpack Bend, the river separates the Kittatinny ridgeline in New Jersey and the Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania, forming the Delaware Water Gap. When the wind is blowing from the southwest, as it often does, this stretch of river requires vigorous paddling to make any headway. The Appalachian Trail also crosses the river at the Water Gap.
This section of river makes it ideal for beginners to develop paddling and river reading skills. The Middle Delaware features long pools and brief stretches of shallow riffles with only a few notable rapids. Paddlers of all skill levels appreciate the Middle Delaware’s peaceful beauty. Many primitive campsites dot both sides of the river and many of its islands, offering overnight stays. There is little power boating, enhancing the solitude. Water quality is excellent for fishing and swimming. The Middle Delaware is the only one of the 3 river sections that offers swimming beaches with lifeguards.
Before reaching the southern end of the Middle Delaware, river travelers will notice Worthington State Forest on the New Jersey side and Shawnee-on-Delaware on the Pennsylvania side. Shawnee-on-Delaware is a reminder that the Delaware Water Gap continues to be one of the most popular resort destinations in the northeastern United States. The last access for the Delaware Water Gap NRA is at Kittatinny Point Visitor Center.