On a perfect clear day in the very beginning of fall (the trees teasing with hints of reds, yellows and oranges), I gathered a group of friends to do something that we locals have probably done once before, if not multiple times—hike Jensen’s Ledges.
Jensen’s (as we call it; some call it the Ledges) is an uphill hike that leads to the top of a mountain with stunning views of the Delaware River. But first, how do you get there? While my friends were no strangers to the hike, this was only my second time; and getting there is certainly a journey—one of those things that you would only know about if you’ve been there before (how’s that for an oxymoron?). Thus it earns its title as a “hidden gem” both literally and figuratively.
Our journey started in Callicoon, where we all met each other to carpool to Jensen’s. From Callicoon, all you do is get onto Route 97 heading toward Hancock and stay straight for a while. Next, you make a left onto Lordville Road (don’t miss it!). You stay straight on that road until you get to the little town of Lordville, a town made up of old houses, one church and one large abandoned boarding house. The atmosphere is entirely creepy. You make a left onto Bouchoux Road, which has a Dead End sign (I feel like it’s there because the locals want to keep Jensen’s hidden). The Dead End road is practically one-lane and definitely dirt and gravel and a tad bit scary if you were to, say, meet a pick-up truck coming the other way. After it seems the road will never end, it takes a sudden sharp curve and there it is—the parking lot.
The common path is at the beginning of the parking lot. There is a sign-in sheet so that if you don’t make it back down someone will come find you (so don’t forget to sign back out). I wondered aloud how often they check the sheet.
Being of adventurous spirit, we decided to take the path less traveled. At the end of the parking lot there is a wooded trail that leads you to the railroad tracks. You have to walk along the tracks for a little while until you see the waterfall, at which you cross over to the bottom of the waterfall. Our friend Dylan had convinced us to take this “trail,” although there was no trail to be seen and we soon realized to our great surprise that we would be climbing up the side of the waterfall.
This proved to be rather difficult; Dylan and the Great Dane (Diogi) we brought with us had to turn around. The rest of us pressed on, and after some complaining, one snake sighting, and two snack breaks, we made it to the top of the waterfall. A sense of accomplishment rushed over us. The view was spectacular, but we knew even greater views lay ahead. Onward and upward.
We knew that once we had reached the waterfall, the top of the mountain was not far off. We walked the path through the woods and veered off to the right, which took us to a spot none of us had been to before. It is at the top of the mountain but not the usual spot, and the ground is made of broken up rocks. Travelers before us had created a cone-shaped rock sculpture and a chair and foot rest made entirely of rocks for weary hikers to rest and take in the view. I definitely suggest going to this spot, but I think that, kind of like Narnia, it has to be found by accident.
We then walked to the left, sensing that it must be where the top is, and we soon found it. The view literally took my breath away; I passed out and fell down the mountain (just kidding, but that would make a good story). Anyway, the view really is breathtaking. The Delaware River winds below you, nestled in vast mountains covered in trees with only a few houses dotting the landscape. It is truly no-man’s-land, an unconquered territory, no Wal-Marts in sight, although I joked that they should build one. And a bar called Cliff Bar. (It was funnier at the time).
We sat on the smooth rock covered with carvings (“Jack was here,” “CB<3LR” and the like), and ate some more snacks and took pictures. Then, after the right amount of time of admiring the view from the top, we headed back down (this time on the trail).
Now, I wouldn’t recommend taking the waterfall route unless you are ready for a challenge. So, I’ll talk about the regular path. The first time I hiked it was last spring, and it is more challenging than I thought it would be; some spots are quite steep. I definitely had to stop and catch my breath a few times. But, it’s a really nice walk, and as Demetri Martin said, “Hiking is just walking where it’s okay to pee.” Also, you can see the waterfall from this trail, as well.
Being immersed in the woods is something so simple and yet so refreshing. I think we can all forget sometimes that we live in a really beautiful area, and if you want to get away from all the technology and stress and whatnot of everyday life, a secluded hike is only a drive away. I encourage you to take advantage of Jensen’s Ledges this fall, whether it’s your first time or 15th time, and enjoy this hidden gem.