These Short & Simple NEPA Hikes Offer Big Rewards
A bit of rock-scrambling and uphill climbing can be fun every now and then, but sometimes you just want to reach a view without all the work. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to endure ten-mile treks to reach NEPA’s natural hidden gems.
These beginner-friendly hikes require little effort, but offer big rewards. Despite shorter distances, milder terrain and lighter elevation gains, the sightseeing is no less incredible. Little ones can complete these trails with ease and families with strollers and wheelchairs might even get out for a few adventures.
No need for equipment, just grab your camera and hit these laidback trails for some stunning views.
Easy & Scenic Hikes in NEPA:
Yellow Loop at Bear Creek Preserve
Bear Creek, PA
Found just off PA-115, and only a short drive from Wilkes-Barre, Bear Creek Preserve’s scenic trails offer a convenient, quiet escape. The 1.1-mile Yellow Loop features great views along mild terrain. You can join the slightly longer Green Trail if you want to keep the fun going.
Vistas at Big Pocono State Park
Sitting at 2,100 feet, atop Camelback Mountain, Big Pocono State Park offers incredible sights of the rolling Pocono Mountains. Take the Vista Trail, a short connector trail, or the Indian Trail, the park’s easiest 1.3-mile hike, for some crazy cliff views.
Dingmans Creek Trail at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Dingmans Ferry, PA
Just about anyone can see awe-inspiring waterfalls on the Dingmans Creek Trail. Featuring boardwalk paths leading to the bases of both Silverthread and Dingmans Falls, families with strollers and wheelchair users can join the hike too.
Starrucca Viaduct at the D&H Rail-Trail
Get in some steps and a history lesson. The D&H Rail-Trail features plenty of iconic, historic sites along its 38 miles, but the Starrucca Viaduct in Lanesboro is a truly can’t-miss location. Walk the trail along the base of the beautiful 100-foot tall stone bridge. Built in 1848, it is the oldest railroad bridge still in operation.
South Lookout at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
True to its name, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has lookouts all over the park for spotting birds of prey. And you don’t have to journey too far to take in the sights. South Lookout is only a short walk from the entrance gate and can be reached by the ADA accessible Silhouette Trail.
Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park
White Haven, PA
The view is the hike itself at Boulder Field. This otherworldly site in Hickory Run State Park formed during an ice age thousands of years ago. If you’re up for an adventure, see how far you can make it across the rocky terrain. Or challenge yourself by hiking the 6.2-mile Boulder Field Trail.
Breathtaking views of historic downtown Honesdale, the Lackawaxen River and the Pocono Mountains are the cherries on top of this short-and-sweet hike. Begin in Gibbons Memorial Park and traverse the mile-long trail, gaining moderate elevation along the way.
Jim Thorpe Section of the Lehigh Gorge Trail
Jim Thorpe, PA
The whole 26 miles of the Lehigh Gorge Trail might be a bit much even for the most experienced hikers, but taking it in sections makes it manageable for everyone. On the portion just outside of Jim Thorpe, you’ll find bridge views of the Lehigh River’s rapids and the Turn Hole Tunnel, a historic feature of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad.
Lower Falls Trail & Evergreen Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park
While Falls Trail is known for steep and slippery terrain, you can still see some incredible waterfall views without too much hassle. Start in the lower portion, from the PA-118 lot to Water’s Meet, for milder conditions. Or go just across the road for the mile-long Evergreen Trail to Adams Falls. Note: sections of the Falls Trail may be closed due to rock slides. You might not be able to complete the loop, but you can still access many of the park’s waterfalls.
Overlook Trail & Hemlock Trail at Salt Springs State Park
Between 500-year old trees and attractions like the famous Penny Rock, Salt Springs State Park brings old and new together. And you can see it all on short, easy trails. Kick things off on the 0.2-mile long Overlook Trail and continue to the Hemlock Trail for boardwalk paths and observation platforms.
Sugar Notch Ridgetop Trail
Hanover Twp., PA
For valley views, hidden caves and rushing waterfalls, hop on the Sugar Notch Ridgetop Trail. This 3-mile out-and-back path follows alongside the top of Wilkes-Barre Mountain and Sugar Notch Run. The best views are found near the eastern trailhead at the Greater Hanover Recreation Park.
Wallenpaupack Lake Trail
You don’t need a boat or jet ski to see the stunning sights of Lake Wallenpaupack. Take a laidback sunrise or sunset stroll along 1.5 miles of shoreline on the flat, paved Wallenpaupack Lake Trail.
Keep On Chasing Views
When it comes to scenic hikes, these easy trails are just the beginning. Check out our list of NEPA trails and plan your next adventure.
Article Updated from its Original Version Published on 6/11/20.