Take the Scenic Route
These short and 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. 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 score incredible views. NEPA offers plenty of scenic spots that aren’t too difficult to reach.
These beginner-friendly hikes take a little effort, but 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 be stuck carrying anyone back to the car. You can even drive to some of them, which makes them fun for all ages and abilities.
Pack your camera and hit the trail, because you won’t want to miss these overlooks, waterfalls and historic sites.
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 amazing views. 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.
Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park
Boulder Field is a 720,000-square-foot expanse of rocks that was formed during the 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.
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. 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.
Yellow Loop at Bear Creek Preserve
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 Pocono Mountains and the Lehigh River.
South Lookout at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
As if the mountaintop views weren’t enough, Hawk Mountain in Kempton is also a premier spot to watch birds of prey. The South Lookout is just a short walk from the entrance gate along a wheelchair accessible path. The other trails are quite rocky, but if you can make the trek to the North Lookout, you won’t be disappointed by the 70-mile view.
Sugar Notch Ridgetop Trail
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.
From the top of Irving Cliff, you’ll get a sweeping 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.
Dingmans Creek Trail at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
You’ll see two waterfalls in one hike on the Dingmans Creek Trail near Milford. The trail is less than a mile round-trip and takes you right to the foot of Silverthread Falls and Dingmans Falls. The boardwalk paths make the majority of it stroller and wheelchair accessible.
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.
Jim Thorpe Section of the Lehigh Gorge Trail
The entire Lehigh Gorge Trail is a long haul (although it’s pretty easy on bike). 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.
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.