“Finding more than foliage this fall: How to find your new favorite hiking spot”

September kicked off the fall season, and also happened to be “National Trails Month”! Although September may be over, our trails are still there waiting to be explored. Northeast PA boasts hundreds of miles worth of trails, many of which are lightly trafficked hidden gems that don’t receive the recognition that they should. Sometimes it can be hard to find a trail that may be right down the road from you, but there are so many resources you can use to find a new place to explore. Many outdoor enthusiasts turn to hiking apps like AllTrails, or visit the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) website to find maps of State Parks and Forests near them, but there are county and municipal level parks that you may find only if you look on your township’s Parks and Recreation page, there are conserved lands called easements that are maintained by your local land trust organization and there are miles of hiking trails hiding in Gamelands as well.

So, how do you figure out where to go? There are a few different land trusts that hold properties in NEPA. If you live in Wayne or Pike counties you could check out the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, if you want to explore Monroe County then Pocono Heritage Land Trust has so much to offer, and Lackawanna County has Countryside Conservancy, which has conserved quite a bit of land surrounding Lackawanna State Park. Each county has their own Parks and Recreation webpage which can be searched from the county website, and many municipalities have an online resource as well. If you reach out to the conservation districts, many of them have publications with different trails to explore, including Gamelands and State Forest trails. Websites like DiscoverNEPA and AllTrails show recreation sites near you, and often have pictures and difficulty ratings to go along with them, since some trails are maintained by private entities or organizations, like trail systems in communities or non-profit run locations like Lacawac Sanctuary and may not show up on county sites.

If technology isn’t your strong suit, there are often paper maps and booklets at the Conservation districts and park offices, or you could call one of the State Park offices in the area, like Promised Land, Tobyhanna, Gouldsboro, Big Pocono, Prompton, or Lackawanna or one of the National Park offices like the Delaware Water Gap or the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River to ask for suggestions from the folks who work there. No matter how you find out about your new favorite hiking spot, you should get out and explore!

  • Sarah Corcoran is the Conservation Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. Based out of Northeast PA, Sarah is a lifelong resident of Pike County and loves sharing her knowledge and passion for the outdoors with anyone she meets. She can be reached at sarah.corcoran@sierraclub.org. Find out more about the Sierra Club in our area by visiting www.sierraclub.org/pennsylvania or going to the Northeast PA Group Facebook page, www.facebook.com/nepasierraclub/ or emailing Sarah directly to be added to the local mailing list.