Port Jervis is a small town located in New York, at the tristate border of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. It is right where the Delaware and Neversink rivers converge. The first European settlers arrived to the area in the late 1600s. It has long been an important hub of transportation, starting with the Native Americans and continuing as canals and railroads were built. Port Jervis was incorporated as a village in 1853, but became its own city in 1907. With so much history, a one day itinerary in Port Jervis was so much fun!
I really did not know Port Jervis existed until recently. I may have seen the name in passing, but hadn’t paid enough attention. Recently, I was camping at a nearby park and wanted to see what was around. I saw Port Jervis was nearby on the map, so I did a little research to see what was there. I decided to check it out for myself and ended up having an amazing and diverse day. Here is my itinerary if you have one day to spend in Port Jervis. You could definitely spend more time there, depending on your interests and the time of year.
I should first say that this is a fairly small area when it comes to cities. If you are an avid walker and get an early start, you could opt to park in one place and walk the entire one day itinerary of Port Jervis. However, I do not want to mislead anyone. Doing the whole itinerary plus hiking is a large commitment, and a great deal of walking by most anyone’s terms. Some areas of interest are spread to the edges of town. Others even require crossing a bridge into the next state. So, it really depends on your personal preference.
We found there to be ample parking at, or nearby, each place of interest. Many sites have historical signs or plaques right where you park. If you are unable, or choose not to do the walking, this would still be an extremely enjoyable and scenic day.
I knew that I wanted to hit some of the hiking trails, and spend ample time taking photos. Therefore, I opted to drive to many of the places and then do my exploring on foot from there. This still allowed for ample walking.
A One Day Itinerary in Port Jervis
This itinerary may seem a bit out of order if you are just pulling into town. Looking at the google map of sites marked by Jenny In Wanderland, you will see what I mean. However, I really liked starting at the railroad trail hike. I recommend starting there because it set the historical tone for the day. It also offered a good morning walk to get moving.
D&H Gravity Railroad Trail
This is a one mile each way, reasonably easy trail, on a mostly flat gravel and dirt surface. It winds through beautiful nature and along what was once canals. On the opposite side of the path are the railroad tracks seen through the trees.
In addition to the pleasant nature walk, of interest were the leftover telegraph posts from the transportation center’s primetime. There were great signs with pictures at the trail head (right at the parking). They had black and white photos and set the tone for the impressive history of the area.
The mile long path in nature ends at what appears to be a scrap car or metal yard. At first this seemed odd, but given the history of the area, perhaps it offered a small taste of what it was like in its heyday.
INSIDE TIP: At the fence, there is an overgrown path to your left. It takes you to the railroad tracks and offers a pretty view that, prior to turning back. Across from parking, there is a continuation of the trail if you want to extend your walk.
Park Avenue Observation Tower
Next, just back up the hill where you may have entered town, there is an observation tower. There is a small dirt area to pull over if you have driven. The pagoda like structure has several well written signs describing the geography, but the real treat here is the magnificent view.
INSIDER TIP: Carefully cross the street from the observation point. You will notice a metal plaque embedded in the roadside rock. It tells the history of Park Avenue. Notice the first use in the world of sodium vapor lamps as an ornamental Highway lighting system.
Fort Decker is the oldest building in Port Jervis, built in 1760. It was rebuilt in 1793 after it was burnt down in Joseph Brant’s attack in 1779. During the building of the D&H Canal in the 1820s, it was used as a hotel. Afterwards, it was a private residence until the Minisink Valley Historical Society purchased it. It now houses a museum.
Although I was unable to visit as it is only open on select days, or by appointment, I was still able to enjoy the outside, the yard, and the historical signs.
At the bottom of the hill from the observation tower, just past the historical society, on the bank of the Delaware river, lies the city park. It contains the popular Westend Beach. This small beach was lovely with a roped off swimming area. It even had a lifeguard on duty. Also within this park were basketball courts and a picnic area.
NOTE: If you extend your itinerary for more than one day in Port Jervis, you could easily spend a lazy Summer day on the river bank, reading, swimming, eating a picnic, and tanning.
Getting Hungry? The Riverside Creamery is an old school style ice cream parlor on the bank of the Delaware River. They have a ton of flavors and are famous for their deep fried ice cream. They also serve some food such as hotdogs.
The Tri-states Monument
The Tri-States Monument is a granite rock at Carpenter’s Point where the Delaware and Neversink rivers intersect. It marks where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania meet. While there, you can also see the nearby Witness Monument.
The Witness Monument
Reach the Witness Monument by a pleasant walk through the historic riverside Laurel Grove Cemetery. I parked just outside the gate on the side of the road by the flower shop. The cemetery had many interesting stones and beautiful scenery, almost out of a renaissance river bank painting.
The Witness Monument is a tall granite monument located under a bridge for I-84. Its location right on the river bank and offers a scenic view.
For me, it is interesting in that it is the original surveyor’s mark. While not directly on a state line, it witnesses the location where these three states meet, and the corner boundary point between New York and Pennsylvania in the Delaware River. From here, look up on the highway bridge and get a clear view of the “Welcome to Pennsylvania” sign.
Erie Railroad Roundhouse Turntable
The Port Jervis turntable is the largest operating facility remaining in the United States. The turntable has a diameter of 115 feet and the bridge was over 19 feet wide. The last train car is believed to have turned here in 1987 for a New Jersey Transit or Conrail Diesel, before an arsonist burnt down the roundhouse. Now, it is owned by the city of Port Jervis.
There is a lengthy historical sign with lots of great information and photos, located in front of the trains in the shopping center lot. You can walk along the old cars and turntable, but cannot access the inside of any trains.
NOTE: You actually need to drive through the shopping center lot to reach this site. Park behind the center, next to the dog park. This is also a trailhead for the Watershed Park.
Still Have Energy? Or Perhaps a One Day Itinerary in Port Jervis is Too Short
If you are pooped, you can definitely elongate your stay by adding daily hikes and picnics, or by spending a lazy day at the beach. Need a Place to Stay? Find hotel and other accommodation options here.
Port Jervis Watershed Park
This area offers over 37 hiking trails, ranging from easy to advanced. There are a variety of trails from .3 of a mile to over 3 miles. Many trails can be combined to create a longer hike. There are 5 different parking lots that offer trailhead access, depending on where you’d like to begin your hike.
The Main Street
The historic town center is architecturally and historically interesting to stroll. It is a small Main Street USA, here called “Front Street.” It offers restaurants and shopping.
The Fox and Hare Brewing Company seemed to have a great menu of both beer and food. This looked like the perfect place to end the day, have happy hour, or grab dinner. Unfortunately, it was closed when I visited. However it seemed fun, and I look forward to adding it to my next one day itinerary in Port Jervis.
Also see Jenny In Wanderland article, 5 Unique New England Attractions to Visit.