Explore 70,000 Scenic Acres in the Poconos
With over 150 miles of trails, a pristine river and roaring waterfalls, it’s no wonder that Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area draws millions of visitors each year. In fact, out of the National Park Service’s 400+ sites, Delaware Water Gap was the 15th most visited location in 2021. That’s more visits than Yosemite, for comparison.
The park is named for the iconic “gap” where the Delaware River carved its way through the mountain ridge. It creates a dramatic plunge between the steep slopes of Mount Minsi on the Pennsylvania side and the rocky cliffs of Mount Tammany on the New Jersey side. But the gap is just the beginning of what this 70,000-acre park has to offer.
The Delaware River runs the length of the park for about 40 miles, providing endless opportunities for fishing and boating. Meanwhile, the hiking trails boast dozens of vistas and waterfalls (including some of the tallest falls in the state). You can even walk along a section of the legendary Appalachian Trail.
Delaware Water Gap is so vast, it’s hard to know where to even start. We’ve rounded up some highlights from the Pennsylvania side of the park, which extends from Milford to the town of Delaware Water Gap. Grab a park map and check out these must-see spots.
Delaware Water Gap is home to countless waterfalls, but Raymondskill Falls is one that you just can’t miss. At about 150 feet high, it’s the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania. Two viewing platforms will give you an up-close look and great photo ops.
To reach the falls, take the Raymondskill Creek Trail at Cliff Park, located just south of Milford. The trail is 0.3 mile one-way with some steep sections and uneven terrain. Still, it’s generally an easy, family-friendly trail.
Dingmans Creek Trail
Keep chasing those waterfall views on the Dingmans Creek Trail near Dingmans Ferry. This popular route includes two breathtaking falls in one short, easy walk.
Just a few minutes in, you’ll come across Silverthread Falls. This thin, ribbon-like waterfall is about 80 feet tall. But the best views are yet to come. Continue along the boardwalk path, and you’ll reach the base of Dingmans Falls. This waterfall is the second tallest in Pennsylvania at 130 feet tall. A short, steep staircase will lead you to the top of the falls for even more views.
The Dingmans Creek Trail is 0.4 mile one-way. The path is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers to the base of the falls.
Pocono Environmental Education Center
The Pocono Environmental Education Center is the education partner of the National Park Service in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Located in Dingmans Ferry, this nonprofit organization provides fun, hands-on nature programs for schools, families and the public.
The center is home to six public hiking trails ranging from short nature walks to longer, more advanced treks. For some of the best views, try the Tumbling Waters Trail. This moderate three-mile loop trail leads to a secluded waterfall and an overlook of the Delaware Valley.
McDade Recreational Trail
The McDade Recreational Trail stretches over 30 miles—nearly the entire length of the park. From riverside views to rural farmland to dense forests, this hiking and biking trail gives you a glimpse of the park’s diverse habitats.
The trail goes from Milford Beach in the north to the Hialeah trailhead in the south. With over a dozen trailheads, it’s easy to break the trail up into smaller sections. Some areas are flat and leisurely, while other parts are steep and challenging, like the ridge near the park headquarters in Bushkill.
Hornbecks Creek Trails
Get off the beaten path with the Lower and Upper Hornbecks Creek Trails. These trails are quieter than some of the other waterfall trails but still offer unforgettable views.
Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail is a two-mile out-and-back trail that begins off of Route 209 near Dingmans Ferry. It follows an old roadway, so it’s generally flat and easy. The trail ends at a 20-foot-tall waterfall.
Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail is a bit more rugged. From the dirt parking lot on Emery Road, it’s a relatively short walk to the waterfall. Or you can make a longer adventure by parking at Pocono Environmental Education Center, taking the Scenic Gorge Trail to the Ridgeline Trail and continuing to Upper Hornbecks.
Delaware River Trips
The Delaware River is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi. Spend a day on the water, and you’ll see why American Rivers named it the 2020 River of the Year.
This section of the river boasts serene, wild beauty. The water is generally beginner-friendly with a few riffles here and there, making it perfect for kayaking and canoeing. Rafts are great options for groups and families, or you can hop in a tube and simply float along with the current.
No boat? No problem. Several outfitters offer river trips complete with boat rentals, gear and a shuttle. They offer everything from short, family-friendly trips to multi-day camping adventures.
Kayak & Canoe Rentals:
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is so expansive that it’s impossible to see everything in one day. But if you plan ahead, you can make the most of your time in the magnificent Pocono Mountains.
Parking spaces can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and during the summer. If you want to visit a popular destination, make sure to arrive early to get a prime spot.
On summer weekends and holidays, you can also hitch a ride on one of Monroe County Transit Authority’s free shuttles. The River Runner Shuttle includes stops with river access and can even transport gear like kayaks, canoes and bikes. New for 2022, there will also be a hiker shuttle to Raymondskill Falls.
We covered the main highlights, but there are so many hidden gems to explore. Check out the National Park Service website for additional trails and activities within Delaware Water Gap.