Lace Up Your Snow Boots & Start 2021 Off on the Right Foot
New Year’s Day is all about fresh starts, and there’s no better way to celebrate than spending the day outside in the brisk mountain air. NEPA’s hiking trails are stunning all year round, but the snowy, tranquil forests are even more peaceful and picturesque in the winter. And while everyone else is holed up indoors, you often have the whole trail to yourself.
Hiking has become a New Year’s tradition thanks to “First Day Hikes,” a program where state parks across America lead guided hikes on January 1. Pennsylvania’s parks have cancelled this year’s “First Day” events due to COVID-19. However, you can still embark on your own adventure at any of NEPA’s parks, not to mention our beautiful nature preserves and trails too. Just make sure to bundle up, check the trail conditions and pack the appropriate gear before heading out.
Put on a that huge, puffy parka, because the snowy views are definitely worth braving the chilly weather. From mountaintop vistas to family-friendly walks, we put together a list of awe-inspiring winter hiking spots.
Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area
This nature preserve features three pristine hiking trails. Take the shorter Pine Trail for an easy stroll through the Pocono forests, or explore the Highland Trail and Creek Trail for views of Tobyhanna Falls.
Beltzville State Park
This state park in the Poconos is home to 15 miles of hiking trails. Try the historic Sawmill Trail, where the dam creates a gushing waterfall.
Dick & Nancy Eales Preserve
The Eales Preserve spans 2,250 acres along the top of Moosic Mountain. In the winter, the trails guide you through the wild, secluded beauty of the heath barrens and offer sweeping views of the Valley.
Frances Slocum State Park
Under a thick blanket of snow, this state park becomes a winter wonderland. Follow the Lakeshore Trail for views along the water, or discover the endless rows of towering evergreens on the Larch Tree Trail.
Francis E. Walter Dam
White Haven, PA
Hiking trails surround this 80-acre reservoir, which serves as a water source for the Lehigh River. Take a winter walk along the creek and climb to the top of the vista for a view of the rolling Pocono Mountains.
Gouldsboro State Park
Enjoy the sound of snow crunching beneath your boots at Gouldsboro State Park. The Old Route 611 Trail is flat and wide for a relaxing walk through the snow.
Hickory Run State Park
White Haven, PA
With 44 miles of trails, this park offers so much to explore. Try the easy Hickory Run Trail through the frozen fields and forests, or take on the more challenging Fireline Trail, which takes you to an overlook of the Lehigh River.
Lackawanna State Park
North Abington Township, PA
This park is a peaceful escape when the lake freezes over and the trees are coated in snow. Follow the Lakeshore Trail for the best views of the water or take a trek through the woods on the Lee Hill Trail.
Lake Scranton Walking Trail
This smooth, easy trail will take you on a 3.5-mile loop around the lake. Located just a few minutes from downtown Scranton, it’s a convenient spot to spend a quiet afternoon reconnecting with nature.
Lehigh Gorge Trail
White Haven, PA
The Lehigh Gorge Trail stretches 26 miles along the Lehigh River from White Haven to Jim Thorpe. This rail trail has a smooth, gentle grade with historic ruins, rushing waterfalls and dense Pocono forests along the way.
Mauch Chunk Lake Park
Jim Thorpe, PA
Mauch Chunk Lake is a go-to spot during summer vacation, but the winter is just as awe-inspiring. The park is nestled along the mountain ridge with trails all around the shore and dam.
Nescopeck State Park
Nescopeck State Park has 19 miles of family-friendly trails through the forest, fields and wetlands. Try the Lake Trail for a tranquil walk around Lake Frances, or explore the bridges on the Creekside Trail.
Promised Land State Park
Between Promised Land and the surrounding Delaware State Forest, there’s over 50 miles of trails to explore. Take a loop around the Conservation Island Nature Trail or enjoy an short and simple waterfall hike on the Little Falls Trail.
Seven Tubs Nature Area
The waterfalls at Seven Tubs are even more magical with a twinkling coat of ice. Trails can be wet and icy, but you can still get breathtaking views from the bridges on the Main Loop.
Thomas Darling Preserve
The 2,500-acre Thomas Darling Preserve is home to one of Pennsylvania’s largest native spruce forests. Take the loop trail to see the rich evergreen groves and frosty wetlands.