Chances are when you think of a great place to go hiking, you may not readily think of Pennsylvania, but I can vouch for the fact that this state has so much more to offer than meets the eye. Much of its natural splendor may be well known to locals, but let me tell you about some hidden gems and added pluses to this part of the Northeast that you will want to explore on your list of places to visit.
Experience The Pocono Mountains
Obviously, autumn is the best time to see Pennsylvania for color. The leaves are magnificent shades of reds, gold and orange. But any time in The Poconos Mountains, which are on the southern Pennsylvania border of the Appalachian Mountain trail, is a great time for hiking. The Appalachian Trail is over 81 years old and is one of the longest hiking trails in the U.S. This trail begins in Georgia and ends in Maine, passing through 14 Eastern states. There are plenty of trails, lakes, summits and wildlife to keep you interested and motivated to push on to see it all. Spring and summer are great for backpack camping and there are all kinds of winter activities in the area as well. Whether on foot, ATV or snowmobile, there are several loop options with easy to moderate and challenging backpack hiking throughout the year.
The Delaware Gap Recreational Area
The Delaware State Forest is in Pike County Pennsylvania. This State Forest derives its name from the Delaware River that drains the entire area. The area is easily accessible, within a two hour drive of New York City and Philadelphia. There are approximately 200 miles of shared-use trails where anyone can hike, bike or horseback ride throughout the year. This video of a mink seen in the Delaware State Forest, is an animal that is rarely seen in the daytime. Backpack hiking in this area leads to observation of many forms of wildlife that will amaze and entertain you.
Other Areas In Pennsylvania
The Shawnee Mountain area within the Delaware Water Gap has 28 miles of the Appalachian Trail to enjoy. There is hiking for the exercise or for the sights. Check out a hike to Childs Park to surround yourself in a waterfall haven. Walk the McDade Trail to catch a glimpse of a Bald Eagles or watch the Delaware River float by. Or, hike Cliff Park Trail to be above it all and see the highest point into New Jersey. The Mt. Minsi area has year round scenic trails that display beautiful fall foliage, gorgeous snowy peaks, blossoming flowers in spring and lush greenery during the summer. There is a section of trail that has a secret trail going off of the Appalachian Trail and takes you to a beautiful waterfall with a little swimming hole.
Thunder Swamp Trail System
The Thunder Swamp Trail System in E. Stroudsburg PA is in Delaware State Forest. Suitable for both day hikes and backpacking camping trips, the system consists of a blue-blazed main loop trail of 30 miles, plus 15 miles of red-blazed side trails to many natural features. The trails cross streams, pass through wetlands, with rocky terrain in spots.
Dunnfield Creek Trail
The Dunnfield Creek Trail is 3.5 miles one way which contains a designated Wild Trout Stream with a healthy population of native brook trout. The trail follows the stream through a mature hemlock and mixed hardwood ravine. Multiple small cascades are seen along the creek. Be prepared for numerous stream crossings. The trail ends at Sunfish Pond, a natural glacial lake. Over twenty miles of trail can be connected together in the Worthington State Forest area to fill an entire day of great hiking.
The Northeast has its share of beautiful hiking trails, and many people gravitate towards the more popular places. If you are looking for some less populated areas, Pennsylvania has much to offer when you are seeking a laid-back approach to backpack hiking. The Delaware Gap Recreational Area provides hikers a multitude of spots to enjoy the beauty of the scenery while enjoying the many wonders of nature. Happy hiking!