Written by Ella
With over 2400 square miles of luscious greenery, trees, waterfalls, and wildlife to explore, the Poconos are a brilliant destination for someone needing some nature off the beaten path. Located in eastern Pennsylvania, they are a short drive from Philadelphia and New York, while still being removed enough to lose yourself in the natural beauty. Whether you’re hoping to day hike to the best waterfalls and sleep in a bed at night in some of the stunning small towns of the Poconos, or you want to backpack throughout the mountains, hiking in the Poconos are the perfect choice for your next hiking trek.
Hiking to Bushkill Falls
One of the most popular hiking spots in the Poconos is Bushkill Falls. While it is a tourist destination, the eight waterfalls and over two miles of trails make it worth the trip and time. With over four hundred feet of falling water over the course of the cascades, Bushkill Falls has earned the nickname, the “Niagara of Pennsylvania”. With other amenities on site like an ice cream and fudge shop, mini golf, boat rides, wildlife exhibits, and a mining maze, this is a perfect day destination for the whole family.
Hiking the Delaware Water Gap
The Poconos also have an edge along the Delaware Gap. The Delaware Water Gap is where the Delaware River makes its way through the Appalachian Mountains. With lush greenery and mountains on both sides, this is an excellent destination within the Pocono Mountains.
If you’re looking for a solid day hike to bring your furry best friend along in the Delaware Gap, check out the Karamac-Dunfield Creek Loop Trail. A moderate five-mile hike will loop you around a lake and even intersect with the Appalachian Trail, or AT for short. The AT extends all the way from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. With a total of 2,174 miles of trail, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is blessed to caretake 28 of them. So, if you want to step foot on this brilliant and historic trail, you can in the Poconos!
Hiking the full Poconos route
If you want to backpack the full route within the Poconos, start at the Totts Gap Park Border. You’ll start off with a mostly easy hike up to Mount Minsi and follow the ridgeline around. You’ll carve through areas such as the Rattlesnake Swamp and Crater Lake. So, make sure to have waterproof shoes, stay away from slithering things, and prepare to have stunning views. You may backcountry camp along the trail as long as you follow the rules, or take spur trails to the Mohican Outdoor Center or the Worthington State Forest Campground. If you’re with some friends, the Outdoor Center does have cabins with bunk space if you’re hoping to forego carrying a tent!
Hiking to Glenn Onoko waterfalls
Any list of great hiking in an area is not complete without at least one challenging and potentially dangerous trail. Hiking to the waterfalls in Glen Onoko is a very popular destination, although there has been a death and many rescues over the years. As any hiker should know, always be prepared with footwear with solid traction, especially when hiking on wet rocks around steep river banks and waterfalls.
After walking for about half a mile, you will come to Chameleon Falls. This first set of falls is unique in that two rivers come together to create one waterfall together. A unique sight, to say the least, it is often a favorite of the three total in Glen Okono. Just above Chameleon Falls is Glen Okono Falls. These singular falls are taller and have incredibly cold water. If you plan well, this could mean a welcome refreshment at the top of the hike, or an encouragement to keep moving. If you’d like to have a stellar view of the valley, hike to the top of Okono Falls. There will be another warning sign and ropes keeping observers off of the falls. This is where it is essential to make wise decisions. But, the view is totally worth the effort.
If you keep your eyes open, there will be a small and narrow trail that will keep you exploring if you’d like. As you meander through the forest, you’ll get little views of other waterfalls and cascades. Equally as beautiful, spend some time secluded away up here. As you keep going, the third and final named waterfall will appear. Known both by Cave Falls and Hidden Sweet Falls, it is a bridal veil waterfall. This means you can go behind it and enjoy being between a rock and a waterfall! All in all, it is only three-quarters of a mile from the parking area to these falls, but it is demanding.
You can hike back down this trail with caution, or continue on for a lengthier but easier descent back to the lot. A fun excursion after this hike is also nearby: the Turn Hole Tunnel. Used from 1866 to 1916, it about 500 feet long and unlit. To find it, hop over to Lehigh Gorge State Park, cross the bridge, and park in the first lot. Crest the small hill that is visible, and you will see the tunnel. Make sure to bring a headlamp, as large rocks have landed in the tunnel creating some trip hazards.
Hike to Tanners Falls
My last hike boasts both the northernmost waterfall in the Poconos, as well as some fun history and exploring. Tanners Falls is located near Honesdale and is a little further away from the main Pocono destinations. This makes it a quieter escape. As it is named, tanneries popped up around the river and fall in the 1850s, creating quite the little community. Feel free to explore the ruins, see the old stone foundations, and imagine what it would be like to be a tanner back in the day. When you see the actual falls, they will be framed by trees on both sides, and an old metal, stone, and wood bridge on top. Now closed even to foot traffic, the historical Dyberry Bridge is still a beautiful sight to see.
So, whether you are coming to the Poconos as an escape from the city, to photographs hundreds of waterfalls, or to hide away in nature, there are ample hikes in the Poconos for everyone. Whether you want short ones to bring kids on or need multiple days in the backcountry, hiking in the Poconos will not disappoint. As always, please be prepared with extra water, solid shoes, and great people to look out for you. Happy hiking!
Ella, Content Manager for trekbible, is a writer and content specialist with a predilection for learning and exploring new places and cultures around the world. With family scattered throughout the U.S. and South Korea, she loves to see cross-cultural influences around the world. Her favorite thing to do on her travels is to taste the local cuisine of each destination.