Exploring the Best Waterfall Hikes in Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park features 24 named waterfalls.
Ricketts Glen State Park features 24 named waterfalls. Chris Clements
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There's nothing more refreshing and invigorating while hiking than bearing witness to the power of an immense waterfall. Luckily for Philadelphians, Pennsylvania is home to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls on the east coast. Whether you enjoy leisurely strolls or more difficult climbs, there are waterfall hikes for every skill level in the Keystone State within just a few hours drive of Philadelphia.

1. Bushkill Falls

Visitors can see eight major falls when visiting Bushkill Falls.
Visitors can see eight major falls when visiting Bushkill Falls. Anthony Quintano

Known as the "Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania", Bushkill Falls are the most popular waterfalls in Pennsylvania. Located in the Pocono Mountains, Bushkill is comprised of eight major falls, the tallest of which drops more than 150 feet from the top to the cool waters below. Visitors to the private falls can enjoy hiking over a series of bridges and on marked trails that provide picturesque views along the way. Trails vary in difficulty and provide an option for every nature enthusiast. Bushkill is also popular with bird watchers since it’s home to a plethora of owls, hawks, and other raptors. Admission is $13.50 per day for adults, and $8 per day for children.

2. Dingmans Falls

Travel to the Delaware Water Gap National Park to see Dingmans Falls.
Travel to the Delaware Water Gap National Park to see Dingmans Falls. Patxi Izkue

About 20 minutes down the road from Bushkill Falls is Dingmans Falls, a recreation area located in the Delaware Water Gap National Park. Dingmans Falls are unique in that a short boardwalk offers an opportunity for every visitor to access the falls. First, visitors will encounter the Silverthread Falls, which have created a stunning fissure between rocks. But the main attraction is Dingmans Falls, the second tallest falls in Pennsylvania at 130 feet.  For those wishing to explore beyond the boardwalk, walk past the observation deck to a series of trails that run along more falls upstream.

3. Ricketts Glen

Ricketts Glen State Park is known for it’s 24 named waterfalls, which range from 9 feet up to 94 feet tall. You’ll find 26 miles of picturesque hiking trails that wind throughout the 13,050 acres of park, with waterfall vistas around every corner. The most rewarding and difficult hike is the 7.2-mile Falls Trail, which allows views of 21 waterfalls. There are also a series of shorter, easier hikes to choose from for more casual strolling. Besides hiking, birding, and gazing at the series of waterfalls, visitors also can enjoy recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, hunting, and horseback riding. Both cabins and tent camping offer outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to explore more of Ricketts Glen over multiple days.

4. Glen Onoko Falls

Glen Onoko Falls can be difficult to get to—and is for experienced hikers only. But the views are spectacular.
Glen Onoko Falls can be difficult to get to—and is for experienced hikers only. But the views are spectacular. Ben Yanis

Located on State Game Lands near  Lehigh Gorge State Park , Glen Onoko Falls are situated next to the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. It should be noted that hikers have been seriously injured and killed by stepping too far out onto moss covered rocks at Glen Onoko Falls, which is advertised on signage at the trailhead. This hike should only be traveled by experienced hikers wearing proper footwear and using extreme caution. Be aware that the trail is not well marked, so do your research before heading out on the trails. Though it’s our most treacherous and difficult hike on the list, hikers at Glen Onoko are rewarded with gorgeous vistas of the Lehigh River Valley and the town of Jim Thorpe.

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