Explore the Pristine Wilds of the Pocono Mountains in Pike, Monroe, Carbon and Northampton Counties
Delaware State Forest sprawls out over 83,519 acres covering Pennsylvania’s jagged eastern border. The forest includes portions of the Delaware River, the Pocono Mountains and the Pocono Plateau. Glacial lakes, swamps and dense stretches of hardwood forests offer an abundant diversity to the plant and animal life that call the forest home.
PA DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry manages the Delaware State Forest. All 20 forest districts within the state’s public lands management system function as dedicated “working forests.” In that regard, the land is protected and maintained for a variety of different uses. Often state forests are utilized for access to pure water, recreation, plant and animal habitat, responsible retrieval of timber and natural gas among many other uses.
Delaware State Forest takes its name from the Delaware River whose path through the Appalachian Mountains serves as the physical boundary separating Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The forest land plunges from elevated, rocky ridges into deep river valleys. It flattens out on hilltop plateaus and reveals remote mountain lakes, streams and wetlands. Hundreds of miles of state forest roads within the Delaware State Forest offer convenience and accessibility to scenic overlooks, waterfalls, wildlife viewing and stunning seasonal scenery. The adjacent Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area offers an additional 70,000 acres to explore.
How You Can Enjoy Delaware State Forest in NEPA
Four seasons of hiking, fishing, sightseeing and so much more.
Delaware State Forest features a multitude of recreational activities. Most forest tracts offer several parking areas, restroom facilities and proximity to nearby towns and amenities. In some locations, the forest also connects to adjacent PA State Game Lands, designated Natural Areas, and State Park land. The Bruce Lake Natural Area features two pristine lakes, moderate hiking trails and nearly 3,000 acres to explore.
The PA DCNR, PA Game Commission and PA Fish and Boat Commission regulate all recreational activity within the state forest system. Please consult individual state forest districts for current access, recreation and public safety advisories.
Hiking and Biking
You’ll find 200 miles of easily accessible, shared-use trails throughout Delaware State Forest. Hiking and biking remain the most popular activities, though many trails are also used for ATVs, snowmobiles and horseback riding. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also popular trail activities throughout the winter.
The 26-mile Thunder Swamp Trail System in Pike County remains one of the forest’s most widely used trails. It features various wetlands, streams, forests and many easier, short loop trails.
ATVs and Snowmobiles
There are three designated ATV trails totaling over 28 miles at Maple Run, Burnt Mills and Dixon Miller Recreation Area. The Dancing Ridge Disabled Sportsman Area is open all year for disabled ATV riders.
Horses and riders are welcome on nearly all Delaware State Forest roads and trails with the exception of Thunder Swamp Hiking Trail and all designated Natural Areas. Horseback riding is popular on many of the park’s ATV and snowmobile trails.
Fishing and Hunting
Delaware State Forest is home to 13 natural and manmade lakes and ponds. Anglers can expect to target bass, panfish, pickerel, musky, catfish and trout. Most of the lakes and ponds are located in remote areas of the forest and require reliable GPS or maps. Many of the streams and brooks throughout Delaware State Forest are stocked with native trout. All fishing activity is regulated by the PA Fish and Boat Commission.
Delaware State Forest is open to hunting during designated seasons. The forest is home to deer, black bear, coyote, squirrel, ducks, turkey and other small game. Trapping of coyote, bobcat, beaver, muskrat and mink is also permitted within the forest. All hunting and trapping activity is regulated by the PA Game Commission.
Camping and Picnicking
Overnight primitive and roadside camping are permitted throughout Delaware State Forest. There are 29 designated motorized camping sites featuring fire rings and tables. Motorized and roadside campsites require camping permits and reservations.
Primitive backpack camping is allowed in most areas of the forest and only requires a permit if staying more than one night.
There are two designated picnic areas within the forest. The Snow Hill Picnic Area in Monroe County offers tables, a pavilion, charcoal grills and restrooms. Pecks Pond Picnic Area in Pike County features charcoal grills, potable water and tables.
Boating, Kayaking & Canoeing
Boats with electric motors, kayaks, canoes and row boats are permitted on most waters within the forest. Boating is not permitted on lakes located within Natural Areas. Boat launches are available at Whiter Deer Lake, Peck’s Pond, Little Mud Pond and Lake Minisink. Launch permits, mooring permits or PA Fish and Boat Commission Registrations are required to launch on Commonwealth waters.
Featured image (Top) Courtesy of PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources