Hike to Glen Onoko Falls

4.1 miles 987 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Ryan Stone

*This hike is CURRENTLY CLOSED! 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!

*Again, this hike is CURRENTLY CLOSED

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:
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!

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Tags

Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Easy to get lost.

There is no sign telling you where the trail begins and it's very easy to miss the old splotch of red paint on one tree to tell you to go right instead of left. Going left will lead you an hour up a difficult trail which leads to nowhere. Good luck!

Hidden Gem

My first impression of the entrance was nothing compared to what my thoughts were after the hike up the falls! The first part of the trail was flat dirt pathways but then - to my liking - gave away to steep and rocky inclines which were definitely worth the effort. Make sure you have sturdy sneakers or - even better - hiking shoes. I'm eager to go back to this photography friendly place and get my hands dirty again.

Last part blazed in red

Once you reach the campsite at the top the second half of the hike, leading up to the view of Jim Thorpe and the decent down, are now blazed in red

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