Poconos: Pennsylvania’s Fun Mountains

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Tank Hollow Trail offers rewarding views of the Lehigh River and surrounding landscape. Pocono Mountains.com photos.
Tank Hollow Trail offers rewarding views of the Lehigh River and surrounding landscape. Pocono Mountains.com photos.

Planning a Hiking Trip: Guide to Hiking in the Poconos

By Shannon Wexler

When the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was established many people thought it was only a matter time until the bald eagle would be extinct in the Lower-48. Today thanks to a ban on certain pesticides and wise management it is fairly common year round in the park.
A bald eagle in the Delaware Water Gap in the Pocono Mountains. Michael Gadonski photo.

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. 

Rigorous Exercise

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. 

Shohola Falls in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania.
Shohola Falls in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

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. 

Pedaling over the Lehigh Gorge Bridge in the Poconos.
Pedaling over the Lehigh Gorge Bridge in the Poconos.

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:
Lake Harmony.

Below are popular hiking trails that you should visit in Poconos:

Rental cabin in Lake Harmony, in the Pocono mountains.
Rental cabin in Lake Harmony, in the Pocono mountains.
  • 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
Hawley, PA
Distance: 3 miles (loop)
Terrain: Gravel filled path 

Difficulty: Easy
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. 

Bushkill Falls 
Bushkill, PA
Distance: 1.4 miles (loop)
Terrain: Combination of bridges, gravel-path and rocky ways
Difficulty: Moderate
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. 

Map of the PoconosPromised Land State Park
Hawley, PA
Distance: 14 miles
Terrain: gravel-filled, clear ways and bridges
Difficulty: Moderate 

Highlights: glacial lakes, small lakes, flora and fauna
Pet friendly 

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. 

Scenic Fall on Mt Tammany, Pocono Mountains.
A scenic fall vista on Mt Tammany, Pocono Mountains.

Delaware Water Gap

Northern section
 Milford, PA
Distance: 3 miles
Terrain: rocky path
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Highlights: Wildflowers, scenic view of the stream
Pet friendly

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. 

A scenic sunset over the Delaware River in the Poconos.
A scenic sunset over the Delaware River in the Poconos.

Middle Section 

Tamiment, PA
Distance: 5 mile
Terrain: Combination of steep and easy paths
Difficulty: Moderate
Highlights: Forest ecosystem, waterfalls, spring
Pet friendly

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. 

Southern Section 

Dunnfield 
Distance: 7 miles, one way
Terrain: Small cascades on the way
Difficulty: Moderate
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
Shohola, PA
Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Terrain: Rocky and slick
Difficulty: Easy
Highlights: Shohola falls, woods, and creek
Pet friendly

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

 

Shannon Wexler is a freelance writer and outdoor lover who lives in New Jersey.