Hiking the Poconos  by John L. Young

Hiking the Poconos Guide Book

by John L. Young (Falcon Guides)
Hiking the Poconos  by John L. Young
Hiking in the Poconos is like taking a vacation from the Real World—even if you come only for one day and one hike—it still seems as though you’re on a genuine vacation. The reason for this is simple: It’s different up here on the Pocono Plateau. When you drive to a hike, you drive on a two-lane highway that takes you through forests of rolling hills where you might see an abandoned resort or gas station or restaurant next to a 1950s-era getaway cabin that is next to a multimillion-dollar private residential enclave. As for the terrain of the Poconos, its history can be traced to the last ice age, when retreating glaciers left behind hundreds of glacial lakes and dozens of wetlands and bogs.

© 2009 John L Young/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking the Poconos" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 25.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 25.

You enter the forest on a pleasant, mowed path that leads you to a ravine alongside a stream. From there the trail leads you to the Wild Creek Falls area, where you can swim, eat your lunch on the flat boulders, or just watch as children splash about in the shallow water. The trail follows above Wild Creek as the stream makes its way to Beltzville Lake, where you get a view of the lake. Beltzville State Park comprises 2,972 acres that stretch along both sides of 949-acre Beltsville Lake, which sits on a southwest to northeast axis with the dam on the very southwestern tip. There are trails by the dam and on the southern side of the lake. Our hike is located in the northeastern section of the park and connects a number of short trails. (You can pick up a copy of the park map and hiking trails brochure at the park office, located near the dam.)
Allentown, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
If you want to get away from civilization for a while, do this hike. You pass through a fragrant pine plantation as you make your way to an area that runs along a rocky ridge. From there you turn uphill for a sweeping view from the Pine Hill Vista tower. Hiking doesn’t get any better than this. This hike is in such a pretty spot that even the parking lot—with its overarching pines, rustic hand pump, and picnic pavilion—looks like a small park. The trails, which are blazed with rectangles—orange for secondary trails, red for the main trail—are very well maintained and well marked. The trail turns are also well marked with the standard double blazes.
Scranton, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.1
Local hikers say the view from this hike is the best in the Poconos. The mountain path is rocky in sections, with odd boulder formations. Once through the rocky section, you come to a flat, grassy area for the sweeping view and then loop back to the mountaintop for three more vistas. Big Pocono State Park is located at the very top of Camelback Mountain (elevation 1,566 feet.) While Camelback’s elevation is less than half that of the highest point in the state (Mount Davis, at 3,213 feet above sea level), it feels higher simply because it’s so steep. It is the mountain’s sheer drop that gets your attention. Our hike starts at Parking Area 1 in the center of the park. This is where you’ll find the bulletin boards, restrooms, picnic areas, fi re tower, heliport, tourist overlooks, and the stone cabin that was once used as park headquarters.
East Stroudsburg, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.1
This hike leads you over typical rocky footpaths and abandoned logging roads to a swampy area where you circumnavigate the Blue Heron Swamp. From there you come to the dark tannin-stained waters of Gates Run as you return to your starting point.
Scranton, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
This trail takes you through a rocky forest section as you hike toward the narrows of Egypt Meadow Lake, where you can view the dark waters of this man-made lake. The trail then follows an old logging road to spring-fed Bruce Lake, a glaciated lake. As you circle Bruce Lake, you’ll come to an old-fashioned water pump. There are two provisos before starting this hike: First, there are two Bruce Lake Natural Area parking lots; be sure to start this hike at the northernmost parking area, which is just 0.1 mile south of I-84. This is also the parking area for Egypt Meadow. Second, if there are no trail maps at the trailhead bulletin board, contact the Promised Land State Park office and get a Promised Land Trail System map.
Scranton, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.4
This is an easy hike through an open field of ferns and tall grass. You also pass through a section of rhododendron as you make your way to Choke Creek, a winding stream that is a favorite among fishermen and backpackers, who have set up a number of fishing spots and campsites beside the stream. If you need a little serenity, you’ll find it here.
Scranton, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.4
Dingmans Falls is one of the top three waterfalls in Pennsylvania. This hike takes you to the falls and then through a hemlock forest alongside a pristine stream to three more waterfalls and the ruins of a once-thriving mill. This hike is located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, a 70,000-acre watershed that stretches for 40 miles on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the Delaware River. The trail begins on a wooden walkway that takes you to the foot of Silver Thread Falls, where water from a tributary to Dingmans Creek drops 80 feet through a narrow shale crevasse, cascading over a series of ledges.
Milford, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
On this hike, just like many of the Pocono hikes, you’ll come upon stone walls that outline an area that was once a farmer’s field or a land boundary. In one area of this hike, you’ll see an elaborate wall system unlike many of the others. The walls here were built to hold livestock, and this erstwhile landowner even built a dam to provide water for his livestock. This may be one of the most interesting hikes in the Poconos.
Scranton, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
If you like a challenge, you’ll love this hike. It is a steep climb over washouts, rocks, ledges, and boulders; but when you reach the top, you are rewarded with a view of two awe-inspiring waterfalls—two of the best in the state. The return trip is on a forest path. There are a few places in Pennsylvania where outdoor buffs can do just about anything they’ve got the energy for. The Lehigh Gorge–Jim Thorpe area is just such a place: there is Class III whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Lehigh River, bicycling on 25 miles of abandoned railroad grade that runs alongside the river, mountain biking in the steep and rugged terrain, fishing for stocked trout near the Francis E. Walter Dam, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter, and of course hiking.
Allentown, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
You start this hike near the shore of Gouldsboro Lake; pick up the rocky Prospect Rock Trail that leads you first to Prospect Rock, an interesting rock outcrop; then it’s downhill to a swampy area. Once through the swamp you get on a decommissioned highway that leads to a park road that delivers you back to the lake. Gouldsboro State Park lies adjacent to and just west of Tobyhanna State Park. The parks are more or less divided by a single north–south railroad line that was once part of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. The nearby town of Gouldsboro and the park are named after Jay Gould, a nineteenth-century American entrepreneur and railroad tycoon who once owned nearly 10 percent of all the rail lines in the United States, including the Erie Railroad.
East Stroudsburg, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
This easy hike leads you through rhododendron patches that are so tall they form tunnels over the trail. From there you hike alongside a well-known trout stream, whose clear waters cascade from one rock ledge to the next and then widen into deep pools where anglers prefer to cast. When you reach Hawk Falls, there are a number of vantage points where you can view this unique, three-sided waterfall. There are two misnomers on this hike. First, the waters of Mud Run are astonishingly clear. Second, you won’t see any hawks or other raptors diving for fish on Hawk Run or at Hawk Falls. The creek and the falls are named for the Hawk family that once owned the property on which the eponymous creek and falls are located.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
Don’t visit the Poconos without doing this hike. First of all, any of the hikes in Hickory Run State Park are well worth doing simply because they take you through a pristine forest laced with clear mountain streams that make you wonder what life was like back when water from these streams ran the local mills. Second, this hike follows a meadow path and abandoned forest roads through a pine forest to the Hickory Run Boulder Field, the only natural phenomenon of this type east of the Mississippi. Bring your children and your camera.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
This easy hike would make a great family hike. Essentially the trail runs alongside the east branch of Wallenpaupack Creek, crosses it on a wooden footbridge, continues to the park boundary, and then returns along the other side of the stream to the trail’s starting point. As with all waterfalls, it’s best to view the falls in early spring or fall or after a rainy period. This hike is part of the extensive Promised Land Trail System, which is contained within Promised Land State Park and the surrounding Delaware State Forest. This system is unique: All its trails are blazed in blue, and the trail markers are numbered and have directional arrows pointing the way from one marker to the next. As with all well-marked trails, when you are approaching a trail intersection, there is a double blaze, which indicates an upcoming intersection or that the trail turns to the right or left.
Scranton, PA - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
Like the McDade Trail South, this hike is easy going and provides up-close views of the Delaware River, which is more than 20 feet deep at some spots. You begin at historic Milford Beach, where you can photograph the river and, if you’re lucky, get a shot of kayakers as they navigate downstream. You will also see where the Pocono Plateau ends and visit the experimental Pittman Orchard.
Milford, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Get ready for some great views of the Delaware River on this easy, mostly flat hike as you walk on a wide trail of crushed rock. Along the way, you pass through a pine plantation, open fields, and a typical broadleaf forest.
East Stroudsburg , PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.6
Try this hike, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, for a steady uphill climb over rocks and boulders. Along the way to the top, you get spectacular views of the Delaware River and the steady stream of traffic on the Interstate 80 bridge. Once on top, you reach a flat area where you can view the ruins of a fire tower and then check out the once-in-a-lifetime view of the Delaware River as it winds its way into New Jersey.
Stroudsburg, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.9
Some state parks just seem so remote and out in the middle of nowhere that they’re hard to resist. This newly refurbished state park is just such a spot. The trail here begins on a wide grassy road that leads to the banks of Nescopeck Creek, which is listed as a high-quality coldwater fishery. From there you go through a swamp and then on to Frances Lake. This is a great hike for children and a great place to spend a day. This is an easy hike that just about anyone could do. The majority of the hike is on an abandoned forest road that has turned into a wide, grassy footpath. When you do leave the main trail, you enter the forest on a typical forest footpath that gets you up close and personal with a huge beaver pond and then the nine-acre Lake Frances. There is also a section where the trail leads you through a deeply shaded pine forest.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7
This hike is rated moderate, mostly due to a moderate elevation gain and a rocky section for the first mile or so. The trail runs alongside Spruce Run—a pristine mountain stream—then passes through a state natural area. This hike is well worth taking, if only to see the unique bridge that volunteers from the Keystone Trails Association built over Spruce Run. The Youth Conservation Corps built the Thunder Swamp Trail System in the 1970s. It comprises 43 miles of interconnecting trails that lie in the southern region of the Delaware State Forest—80,267 acres in Pike, Monroe, Northampton, and Carbon Counties. The main trailhead for the system is located on Route 402 in Marshalls Creek, 8.4 miles north of the intersection of Route 402 and US 209 or 1.8 miles south of Snow Hill Road.
East Stroudsburg, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
Hike through a natural area of 500-year-old trees and up a deep ravine on man-made stone steps. Walk alongside a raging mountain stream past more than two dozen wild and dramatic waterfalls. This is an extremely popular hike with tourists and photographers, so if you’re a serious hiker and like to feel the serenity of the deep woods, you would do well to take this hike on a weekday. At Ricketts Glen history meets geology, and the result is a truly unique hike. This is not only the most magnifi cent hike in the state, but it also ranks up there with the top hikes in the East. This hike has everything: It is a National Natural History Area, with trees estimated to be up to 900 years old. There are breathtaking waterfalls, pristine settings boasting unique flora and fauna, and mammoth trees strewn along the trail and across the creeks. Here at Ricketts Glen, even the drainage streams that pour into Kitchen Creek produce picture-postcard waterfalls.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.1
This hike is part of the Pocono Environmental Education Center. The trail is well marked and well maintained. You pass through the oak-chestnut forest and then descend from a steep ridge—with the help of a rope—to the gorge below, where you visit the ruins of a cabin and its abandoned earthen dam. Before you leave the forest, you come to a 15-foot waterfall on Alicia Creek (aka Spackmans Creek) and then hike alongside the stream back to your starting point. The Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) wasn’t always a learning center. Indeed, the center was built originally as a honeymoon resort, aptly named Honeymoon Haven. But all that changed when the federal government decided to build a dam on the Delaware River 6 miles upstream from the Delaware Water Gap at Tocks Island and started acquiring property along the river.
Milford, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4