Just west of Fishs Eddy off Route 17/Interstate 86 is a delightful little walking trail that meanders through the woods alongside the East Branch of the Delaware River in the Town of Hancock. Not many folks know about this hidden gem of a woodland path, which makes it the perfect opportunity to enjoy some quiet time alone or with close friends and family, listening to the flow of the river and the sounds of birds and critters going about their daily routines. It is not unlikely that you’ll spy an eagle or red tailed hawk sitting high above in the treetops looking for a meal in the river below.
Thanks to the hard work of the local Eagle Scout group, the well-maintained, handicapped accessible path is nearly perfectly flat its entire length — a leisurely half mile in each direction. You can choose a brisk pace to get some good cardio exercise, or go slowly to simply enjoy being surrounded by nature. There is a lovely and comfortable bench about half way along the trail, offering an ideal place to rest and watch the river go by.
As you near the end of the trail, you’ll come upon a fascinating little cemetery that you’ll want to explore. Here you’ll find some amazing gravestones which speak directly to Hancock’s rich history in the bluestone and logging industries. The most poignant we came across in our explorations were the simple, unmarked rough cut stones and a set of double stumps indicating, we presume, the lives that were cut down just as the trees they represent were also cut down. A fitting tribute to people who most likely made their living for generations (and possibly still!) working off the forest land where they dwelt.
No matter the time of year, the Partridge Island Walking Trail (named for the large land mass that splits the river at this location) provides a beautiful and serene little excursion along the East Branch of the Delaware River, coupled with a bittersweet nod to the vibrant history of this area.
To get to the Partridge Island Walking Trail, take Fishs Eddy Exit 89 or Hancock/Cadosia Exit 87a off of Route 17/Interstate 86 and follow Old Route 17 along the river until you see the large green Partridge Island Walking Trail sign. It’s just past the Partridge Island Cemetery if you’re heading West.