Hike to Glen Onoko Falls
Pennsylvania › Glen Onoko Parking Area
Added by Ryan Stone
This 4.1 mile trail (ranked #2 Most Epic Hiking Spot in Pennsylvania) offers a scenic, rough-terrain adventure of the beautiful Glen Onoko falls and Jim Thorpe mountainside. It is best to hike in dry weather, several days after a good rain to see the waterfalls in full effect!
There are several WRONG ways to do this trail. Follow these simple instructions to get the most out of all Glen Onoko has to offer:
Parking in the correct location is the most important step to this trail. Beware: typing in Glen Onoko Falls in Google Maps does NOT take you to the trailhead. (instead taking you 1.5 miles up the mountain north of the trails). You must navigate to the D & L Trail, which is part of the Lehigh Gorge Trail. Driving in from Main Street, you will turn left onto the D & L Trail (you will see Lehigh Gorge Trail sign at this intersection). Drive along the base of the mountainside and train tracks until you cross the wooden bridge. Parking here will give you access to the trail by walking down the steps at the Falls Trail sign and turning right under the bridge.
The Hike Up:
Here the fun begins! Fair warning; wear hiking boots. The trail is very rough, often times leading through unmarked rock formations at steep inclines (be ready to get down and dirty!). When you come to the second trail information sign, with the trail map, veer left. If you are confused, just go towards the sound of the fall. The trail is blazed orange, and goes up along the side of the falls. At some points the trail becomes unmarked, but the idea is to just keep going up! You are guaranteed to find the trail again.
The Top of the Trail (VERY IMPORTANT!):
You will hit the top of the falls relatively quick (about 45 minutes for me). This step is very important, and messing it up will leave you lost/missing the second half of the trail. The top of the falls is marked by a "fire ring". It is more like a large opening at the base of large rock formations, with small remnants of a fire. If you walk too far past this, you will run into a gravel road that runs along the mountain. This takes you onto James Run trail and away from the Falls Trail, so turn around and go back to the fire ring. At the fire ring, there is also sign pointing to a return trail (this will take you back down the mountain). If you wish to do the full loop though, you have to go UP the rock formations instead of following the return sign. It is unmarked at first, but you will come upon the orange blazes soon enough. This takes you up makeshift rock "steps" and deeper into the forest away from the falls. In about half a mile you will hit the climax of the hike (a clearing with a breathtaking view of the Borough of Jim Thorpe). At this point, you will see the orange trail veering sharp to the right that takes you back down the mountain. Get ready to drop some major elevation!
Additional Hiking Options:
There is an option to continue hiking beyond the view of Jim Thorpe, instead of going back down the mountain immediately. Continuing takes you off the Falls Trail and will bring you to views of the Lehigh River and Oxbow Bend. I have not hiked this portion, but it is supposedly marked with blue blazes. The easiest way back down the mountain is to return back to the view of Jim Thorpe and taking the trail that veers sharp right.
At the trailhead you will also see an old train tunnel across the Lehigh River. You can check this out by walking across the wooden bridge you came in on, and turning left about 50 yards ahead at the next parking lot. The tunnel is pretty cool, with old railway ties still remaining and a sweet view of the river. Be careful though because the tunnel is unlit and slippery at times.
I hope this post helps you experience all the awesomeness that Glen Onoko has to offer!
- Hiking Boots
- Camera (guaranteed to get great pics!)
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ReviewsLeave a Review
Incredible and Challenging!
This hike is excellent! I have been here many times, taking every trail to and from the falls. The main trail is very steep, so expect to climb a bit to get to the top. Also, expect crowds during the summer. People enjoy cooling off in the falls. For warm days, I'd suggest wearing a bathing suit so you can too! If you don't enjoy crowds, I still highly recommend taking the main trail on the way up simply because it is an awesome experience. However, once at the top, you can take another trail down to the bottom. It is fairly hidden, but you should be able to get to it using the description above. The alternate trail is less steep (and thus less fun) and has little to no views, but the trade-off is that it is usually empty. It makes for a very good running trail if you're looking for one!
Went to Jim Thorpe during winter and the frozen falls were amazing. Cannot wait to go back in the spring to check it out again. Relatively easy hike, just watch your footing, esp if you go in the winter I recommend yak tracks, because the rocks can get a little bit slippery.
One of the Best Hikes in PA
I grew up hiking here and I can say with ease that it's one of the better, more scenic hikes in Pennsylvania. The waterfalls are beautiful, and seem like they never stop coming. Make sure to check out the abandoned train tunnel too! Fall is probably my favorite season to see Glen Onoko, as there are many kinds of trees and they turn to beautiful colors. If you have time, take the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe as well.
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