Planning a Hiking Trip: Guide to Hiking in the Poconos
By Shannon Wexler
The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania have more than 2,400 square miles of outdoor trails, with many of them offering waterfall views and a spectacular viewing of the mountains from the top.
You will also come across rich flora and fauna as you navigate your way to some of the most pristine locations in the Poconos.
Besides the fun of hiking, it is also an incredibly low-impact workout that helps the body and nourishes the mind. And the Poconos are located in Eastern Pennsylvania near both New York City and Philadelphia.
Some of the trails are scenic and leisurely, while others require guides and rigorous walking. There are trails for all kinds of hikers either someone who has started for the first time or those who have years of experience in hiking.
Hiking in Poconos can be enjoyed in all seasons, even in the winter. There are terrains and trails cleared out for the hikers to explore and indulge in leisure activities.
Hiking Trails in the state park lead to beautiful places and many waterfalls, wetlands, and forests with abundant wildlife.
- More than 126 trails, which equals nearly 261+ miles of trails.
- With over 81,958 acres of state forest land, there are lots of hiking trails and terrains that you can find.
- You can enjoy nearly 127 different varieties of trees and experience the Pocono’s brilliant colors during fall foliage.
Hiking Vacations in the Poconos
Poconos is a great place to plan a hiking trip, especially for those who live in New York, Philadelphia, and the neighboring cities and states. It’s only 95 miles from New York City to these mountains. It is important to have realistic goals and plan hiking in the Poconos based on experience and your fitness level. The Poconos offer hiking for everyone all year long!
Poconos offers different kinds of hiking trails for travelers. Once you decide the intensity of the hike and the number of people along, you need to sit down and assess different hikes and regions that you wish to cover.
We recommended sticking to established trails that limit exposure to the wilderness.
When to Go Hiking in the Poconos?
While Poconos offers a hiking experience all year long, the best time to visit Poconos for hiking is in fall, spring and lastly winter. Hiking during summer can be quite a bit tiring and may require you to carry more water and food.
Where to Stay in the Poconos
There are many small hotels, B&Bs, and private homes you can rent using Airbnb and VRBO in the Poconos. This is where we stayed:
Below are popular hiking trails that you should visit in Poconos:
- Wallenpaupack Lake Trail
- Bushkill Falls
- Promised Land State Park
- Delaware Water Gap – North, Middle, and South
- Tobyhanna State Park
- Appalachian trail
- Shohola Falls trail
Wallenpaupack Lake Trail
Distance: 3 miles (loop)
Terrain: Gravel filled path
Highlights: Lake Wallenpaupack, wildlife, and woods
Not Pet friendly
If you are a beginner at hiking or wish to have a leisure stroll around without much adventure, the Wallenpaupack Lake trail is perfect for you. The path features some of the best scenery – contrast the lake’s blues and warm green hues of trees and vegetation around.
Distance: 1.4 miles (loop)
Terrain: Combination of bridges, gravel-path and rocky ways
Highlights: Woods, waterfalls, wildlife
Pet friendly: Yes
Bushkill Falls is a privately owned attraction that features everything for everyone. Four paths in total differ in distance and difficulty. You get a great view of the main falls no matter what you choose.
Promised Land State Park
Distance: 14 miles
Terrain: gravel-filled, clear ways and bridges
Highlights: glacial lakes, small lakes, flora and fauna
This is one of the best hiking paths you can walk in with your dog. The trails feature some of the best natural features that the Poconos is known for – glacial lakes, small waterfalls and a spectacular arrangement of flowers and lush trees. It has different terrains like Bruce Lake Natural Area Trail, Little Falls Trail and Conservation Island.
Delaware Water Gap
Distance: 3 miles
Terrain: rocky path
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Highlights: Wildflowers, scenic view of the stream
You can find two trails in the northern section – Milford knob trails and Cliff trails. These are located near Milford and have relatively the same difficulty and highlights. You can take your dog along for these hikes and enjoy them, especially during the spring.
Distance: 5 mile
Terrain: Combination of steep and easy paths
Highlights: Forest ecosystem, waterfalls, spring
It is an excellent option for hikers who want to learn more about the natural vegetation and ecosystem in the area. During the hike, you will be able to experience the difference between a hardwood forest ecosystem and a dark, cool hemlock forest ecosystem. It is an easy 2-mile loop trail.
If you want to see waterfalls in the middle section, you can head to the Buttermilk Falls trail in the Delaware Water Gap. It is a moderately complex, 3-mile walk with a steep climb, but it’s worth it as you get to experience one of the tallest waterfalls in New Jersey.
Distance: 7 miles, one way
Terrain: Small cascades on the way
Highlights: Hemlock and hardwood ravines, glacial lake and streams
Pet friendly: Yes
The trail is located in the Dunnfield Creek Natural Area. It features a river and is primarily used for hiking and fishing. The trail also features natural scenic views as you cross multiple streams on the way.
Shohola Falls Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Terrain: Rocky and slick
Highlights: Shohola falls, woods, and creek
This short trail runs along with waterfalls on the declining rock path. When the falls overflow with water, the excess water can run over the trail rocks, making them slippery. The trail can seem complicated from the road but is relatively easy if you watch your steps cautiously navigate the rocks.
Planning and Packing your Backpack
Before hitting the trail of your choice in Poconos, little things can make a great difference while booking. Figure out the weight and the content of your pack before the trip, and take into consideration the place, weather and temperatures, features, and potential dangers.
- Think twice before including any additional items
- Make sure that the extra clothes don’t weigh too much
- Keep clothes and food in easy access
- Carry enough water, map, and food to recharge
Shannon Wexler is a freelance writer and outdoor lover who lives in New Jersey.