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  • Writer's pictureDan Wagner

Three Days in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains

Home to historic and charming towns like Jim Thorpe, Milford, Stroudsburg, and Honesdale, the Poconos have been Pennsylvania's top vacation destination for more than a century. Its rolling mountain terrain, beautiful waterfalls, pristine rivers and lakes, dense forests and swanky stays are often the perfect weekend getaway for millions of nature lovers. The 2,500 square mile region is home to more than 250 miles of hiking trails, 45 of which belong to the Appalachian Trail, more than 170 miles of riverway, and more than 250 lakes. We did this trip in early summer a few years ago and it turned out to be a great time.

Day 1: Dingmans Ferry

Raymondskill & Hackers Falls (2.2 miles/300')
Silverthread & Dingmans Falls (0.8 miles/250')
Hornbecks Creek (3.7 miles/450')

We began the trip with a hike out to the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania, Raymondskill Falls. Although very short, the entire hike was exceptionally beautiful and the 178-foot-tall falls was a great way to start our weekend.

Raymondskill Falls

We then headed out to one of the area's most popular hikes, Dingman's Falls. There were so many people on this trail that it kind of took away from the experience, but it was still worth it to us.

Dingmans Falls

After grabbing a bite to eat at Log Tavern Brewery in Milford, we went out to Hornbecks Creek to hike the Indian Ladder Falls Trail, upstream from Rt 209. The first waterfall that we reached was about three quarters of a mile from the trailhead.

Indian Ladder Falls

There were two small waterfalls after this, but both were a bit tricky to reach so we avoided them. Shortly after that, we reached Indian Ladder Falls, a beautiful 5-foot-tall cascade. We found a spur trail that climbed up to the middle of the falls and gave us an opportunity to actually walk through them.

Indian Ladder Falls

Following Indian Ladder Falls, we encountered three more waterfalls, one that was around 25-feet-tall, before reaching Emery Road, the turnaround point. Had we known up front that there were so many opportunities to swim in the creek, we would have brought the appropriate clothing, so lesson learned. After Hornbecks Creek, we checked into the Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA and made dinner.

Day 2: Hickory Run

Hawk Falls (0.7 miles/100')
Shades of Death (2.2 miles/250')
Hickory Run Boulder Field (varies)

The next morning, we headed an hour west to visit Hickory Run State Park. Our first hike was an easy one out to Hawk Falls, one of the highlights of the park.

Hawk Falls Pennsylvania

After that, we hiked the Shades of Death Trail, widely regarded as one of the top day hikes in the state.

Shades of Death Pennsylvania

We then headed out to the Hickory Run Boulder Field, a massive 16-acre boulder field - the largest in the Appalachian Mountains. We hiked the six mile trail around the boulder field and then took an hour or so to walk through it. Oddly, this turned out to be the highlight of the trip for me.

Hickory Run Boulder Field

Towards the end of the day, we went parasailing with Pocono Action Sports on Lake Wallenpaupack, located an hour northeast of the boulder field. After that, it was back to the KOA.

Day 3: Bushkill

Bushkill Falls (1.8'/350')
Mount Tammany (2.5 miles/1,100')

We began our last day in the area by hiking the Bushkill Falls Red and Blue Trails Loop, which gave us access to Bushkill Falls, Lower Gorge Falls, Lower Bridesmaid's Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Upper Bridesmaid's Falls, Pennell Falls, Upper Canyon Falls, and Laurel Glen Falls. The trail featured more than 1,200 stairs, but was quite a bit more easy-going than expected. The highlight for me was Bushkill Falls.

Bushkill Falls

We then grabbed a bite to eat and checked out the Pocono Indian Museum in East Stroudsburg. Toward the end of the day we made our way out to the Red Dot Trailhead on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap and hiked up to the Mount Tammany Overlook, the second of two major overlooks along the trail. Here, we relaxed for a while, watched the sunset, and headed back to the KOA for the night.

Mount Tammany Overlook

In the morning, we left to return home, happy with a fantastic trip to my old stomping grounds.


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