After hiking the Bear Hill Nature Preserve trail we stopped at Sam’s Point to walk up the Lenape Steps. Every time we came to Sam’s Point, the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew was either working on the stairs or the path was closed. On March 26, 2022, the Lenape Steps reopened to the public. It took three years to restore the steps and make them usable by the public again. But how did these steps come to be?
Thomas Botsford built a hotel in 1858 at the summit of Sam’s Point. When Sam’s Point Mountain House burned down, he made another hotel against the cliffs. He wanted his guests to enjoy the incredible ridge views from the summit, so he built stairs to it. In 1874 the second hotel burned down, but the ridge’s steps continued to be in use. Over time they started to deteriorate due to harsh weather conditions and eventually had to be closed off to the public.
In 2019, the Jolly Rovers crew of volunteers began the tedious work of restoring the Lenape Steps. Previously, these stairs were called Indian Steps. After three years, the Jolly Rovers crew was able to cut, shape, and place the 89 steps in place. They also added supporting rocks to ensure the longevity of the stairs. This crew is not new to creating stairs. They are also responsible for creating the stairs for Stony Kill Falls, Ice Caves stairs, and the stairs leading to Rainbow falls by the carriage road.
Walking the Steps
After parking and walking up the trail to the stairs, we waited for other people to go up first. The day was beautiful, and everyone was outside enjoying it at Sam’s Point. A couple in front of us held hands as they walked up the impressive steps. The stairs are incredible, large, and wedged between two cliffs. As you go up, there is a space between the boulders that is gated. I’m not sure if they put the gate up to ward off anyone from trying to squeeze through or for another reason. The stairs get smaller as you go up and reward you with the open view of the valley below.
The work that went into these stairs is stellar! It’s genuinely immaculate, from aligning the stones to chiseling them to fit like a puzzle. Once we got plenty of the views and the wind picked up, it was time to turn around and go back down the stairs. Now that the steps are open, everyone walks up to them instead of walking around the ridge. These stairs have been around for 164 years, and I hope they last 164 plus more!