These Short & Simple NEPA Hikes Offer Big Rewards
If we’re going to break a sweat, we might as well enjoy a sweeping vista or a cascading waterfall while we’re at it. Sure, some of the area’s hidden gems are tucked away deep in the wilderness, but you don’t always have to take a ten-mile trek to enjoy incredible views. NEPA offers plenty of scenic spots that aren’t too difficult to reach.
These beginner-friendly hikes take a little effort, but they offer lots to see. The distances are short, the elevation gains are modest and the sightseeing is top-notch. And for families, they’re easy enough that you won’t have to carry the kids back to the car.
Pack your camera and take the scenic route. You won’t want to miss these overlooks, waterfalls and historic sites.
Easy & Scenic Hikes in NEPA:
Yellow Loop at Bear Creek Preserve
Bear Creek, PA
Bear Creek Preserve is conveniently located off of PA-115, just a short drive from Wilkes-Barre. Take the 1.1-mile Yellow Trail to a scenic overlook of the rolling Pocono Mountains.
Vistas at Big Pocono State Park
Big Pocono sits on top of Camelback Mountain, and at 2,100 feet, you know you’re in for some incredible sightseeing. You can drive to several overlooks along Rim Road, which offer views stretching all the way to New York and New Jersey. A short connector called Vista Trail is an easy option, while the Indian Trail is a moderate 1.3-mile loop to the cliffs.
Dingmans Creek Trail at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Dingmans Ferry, PA
Discover two waterfalls in one awesome hike on the Dingmans Creek Trail. The trail is less than a mile round-trip and leads right to the bases of Silverthread Falls and Dingmans Falls. The boardwalk paths make the majority of the trail accessible for strollers and wheelchairs.
Starrucca Viaduct at the D&H Rail-Trail
You’ll find historic sites along all 38 miles of the D&H Rail-Trail, but the Starrucca Viaduct is one that you can’t miss. Located outside of Lanesboro, this stone bridge is 100 feet tall and features 17 soaring arches. It was built in 1848 and is the oldest railroad bridge still in operation in Pennsylvania.
South Lookout at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
As if the mountaintop views weren’t enough, Hawk Mountain is also a premier spot to watch birds of prey. The South Lookout is just a short walk from the entrance gate. It can also be reached by the wheelchair-accessible Silhouette Trail.
Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park
White Haven, PA
Boulder Field is a 720,000-square-foot expanse of rocks that was formed during the last ice age. This National Natural Landmark attracts tons of visitors each year. You can drive there by taking the unpaved access road, or you can challenge yourself with a hike on the Boulder Field Trail, which is 6.2 miles round-trip.
From the top of Irving Cliff, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of historic Honesdale, the Lackawaxen River and the Pocono Mountains. This mile-long trail is located in Gibbons Memorial Park and has a moderate elevation gain. The cliff is named after the famous writer Washington Irving, who visited Honesdale in the 1840s.
Jim Thorpe Section of the Lehigh Gorge Trail
Jim Thorpe, PA
The 26-mile Lehigh Gorge Trail is a long haul (although it’s pretty easy on a bike). However, you can see some of the highlights within an easy walk from Jim Thorpe. Cross over the bridges for views of the Lehigh River and whitewater rafters riding the rapids. Be sure to take a walk through Turn Hole Tunnel, a historic railroad tunnel near the Glen Onoko access point.
Little Rocky Glen Preserve
This nature preserve is owned by Countryside Conservancy and includes a short out-and-back trail along Tunkhannock Creek. The water has carved out a gorge, complete with towering cliffs and small waterfalls. The trail leads to a meadow and picnic area where you can relax beside the crystal-clear pools.
Lower Falls Trail & Evergreen Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park
The Falls Trail is notoriously steep and slippery, but that doesn’t mean beginners have to miss out on the views. You can still see some of the trail’s famous waterfalls along the lower portion, which goes from the PA-118 parking lot to Water’s Meet. It’s 3.6 miles round-trip and fairly flat. You can also head across the road to the Evergreen Trail, an easy mile-long loop to Adams Falls.
Overlook Trail & Hemlock Trail at Salt Springs State Park
The Overlook Trail offers a flat, 0.2-mile walk through the woods and joins the Hemlock Trail, where you’ll find an observation point of the gorge and waterfalls. Continue along the boardwalk path through the stately old-growth forest, where the trees are up to 500 years old. Eventually, you’ll come to Penny Rock, where visitors have hammered hundreds of coins into a huge boulder.
Sugar Notch Ridgetop Trail
Hanover Twp., PA
The Sugar Notch Ridgetop Trail travels through the forests of Wilkes-Barre Mountain and passes a scenic overlook of the valley below. The trail is three miles point to point. The view is located closer to the eastern trailhead at the Greater Hanover Recreation Park.
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.