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Hiking at Hickory Run State Park

44 miles of trails

The trails lead through areas rich in historic and scenic interest. This is especially true from mid-June until mid-July when the mountain laurel and rhododendron are in bloom and again in mid-October at the height of the fall foliage.

Most of the park trails were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the guidance of the National Park Service between 1936 and 1945.

Many of the trails were old roads from the towns of Hickory Run and Saylorsville that flourished in the area between 1830 and 1900.

As you hike, think of all the people and families that have used these trails in the past and preserve these trails for the use of future generations.

Prepare for a Safe Hike

For every hike, even on trails less than a mile -- Always carry water, a park map, and wear appropriate footwear. Cell phones are unreliable in the forest and are not an alternative to a paper map.

For longer adventures -- Pack high-energy snacks, more water, and layers for changing weather conditions. Stay well fueled and hydrated for a more enjoyable experience.

Before embarking on your next adventure, consider:

    • Trail length, trail difficulty, and fitness level of your group -- On the park map, most trail lengths are one-way. Double the trail length to return to the starting location.
    • Weather forecast -- Be aware of possible upcoming weather and pack accordingly.
    • Time of day -- The park closes at sunset. Plan to leave the park well before sunset.
    • Have a plan B -- Be flexible! Sometimes changing to a better day or a different trail results in a safer experience.

Trail Guidelines

  • Yellow blazes are hiking only trails
  • Blue blazes are hiking and cross-country skiing trails
  • Orange blazes are hiking and snowmobiling trails
  • Biking is prohibited on all trails at Hickory Run State Park, but is permitted at nearby Lehigh Gorge State Park on the rail-trail

The letter by the trail names matches the letter on the park map.

A -- Beach Trail

0.5 mile, easiest hiking

Beach Trail provides an easy walk from Sand Spring Lake to the campground. The trail stretches from the lower loops of the campground, passing by sites #17, #53, #152, and #158 below the amphitheater. From there it crosses PA 534, across the road bridge, and continues on the service road to the beach.

B -- Bear Trail

1.1 miles, easiest hiking

This wide, grassy trail branches off of Fourth Run Trail and ends at the northern park boundary (white blazes). It is possible to walk the park boundary to get to Leonardsville or Stage trails, but this can be difficult due to thick vegetation and should only be attempted by experienced hikers.

C -- Blue Trail

1 mile, easiest hiking, cross-country skiing

This thin trail winds through a forest dominated by chestnut oak, mountain laurel (blooms mid-late June), and rhododendron (blooms early-mid July). Blue Trail is a connection between Pine Hill and Sand Spring trails.

Blueberry picking is excellent along this trail close to the junction of Pine Hill Trail. Blue Trail also offers one of the best areas in the park to view mountain laurel when in bloom, but can be especially wet after rain or snow melt.

D -- Boulder Field Trail

3.5 miles, more difficult hiking

The trail runs between Boulder Field and PA 534. Parking is available off of PA 534 across from Hawk Falls, or at Boulder Field. The trailhead at Boulder Field is directly across the field from the parking lot (look for the big yellow blaze on a tree). A modest elevation change and the rocky nature of the trail near Boulder Field makes the 3.5 miles seem longer in distance.

This trail runs through sections of hemlock, spruce, and beech forests. Bears, owls, white-tailed deer, turkeys, snowshoe hares, and ruffed grouse are sometimes encountered along the trail. Hikers should allow 4 to 5 hours for a roundtrip trek.

E -- Deer Trail

0.5 mile, easiest hiking

Parking is available at the trailhead along the Sand Spring Day Use Area road. The trail ends at PA 534. Deer Trail is an old logging road and is fairly open. In the spring and fall, vernal and autumnal pools along the trail are filled with various frog, toad, and salamander species. Deer Trail is also an excellent trail for bird watching and listening for owls.

F -- Fireline Trail

2.4 miles, most difficult hiking, cross-country skiing

Parking is available in a small lot off of PA 534. Originally developed as an access road for firefighting equipment, this trail runs from PA 534 in the west, intersects Skyline and Gould trails, to an intersection with Hickory Run Trail.

About 0.5 mile from the trailhead is a picturesque overlook of the Lehigh River and Lehigh Gorge State Park. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the park to watch a sunset. Fireline Trail is scenic, but sections of the trail are open, steep, and rocky making for challenging hiking, especially in the heat of summer.

Along this trail watch for songbirds including prairie warblers and eastern bluebirds, and hawks.

G -- Fourth Run Trail

4.8 miles, more difficult hiking, snowmobiling

The longest trail in the park passes through a wide variety of landscapes and habitats. Parking is available off Boulder Field Road or along PA 534 across from the chapel. From PA 534, walk the road behind the chapel 0.3 miles to the trailhead. Ridge, Manor House, Stage, Bear, and Boundary trails connect with Fourth Run Trail. Fourth Run crosses the trail three times and provides excellent fishing for native brook trout.

The trail proceeds under the turnpike in a wide tunnel that is prone to flooding during heavy rain. Numerous blueberry and huckleberry bushes are along this trail.

H -- Gamewire Trail

3.3 miles, more difficult hiking, snowmobiling

Parking is available off of the exit road from Boulder Field or in the overflow lot of the Organized Group Tenting Area (OGT). This trail follows the boundary fence line that used to surround the game preserve of General Harry S. Trexler, who owned most of the property (from 1922-1933) that became Hickory Run State Park.

The trail passes through an open forest with mountain and sheep laurel. The first 1/3-mile of the trail starting at the OGT can be very soggy in the spring and after rains.

I -- Gould Trail

1 mile, easiest hiking

Parking is available just west of the Youth Forestry Camp entrance on PA 534. The trail winds through deciduous woods and fields, crossing Goulds Run at the trail’s mid-point at an intersection with Skyline Trail. The southern portion of the trail ends at Fireline Trail. In the summer look and listen for indigo buntings, broad-winged hawks, field sparrows, and eastern bluebirds along the trail.

J -- Hawk Falls Trail

0.6 mile, more difficult hiking

Parking is available off of PA 534, just east of the turnpike overpass. The trail begins in rhododendron thickets and hugs the side of a hill down to Hawk Run. A large footbridge crosses the creek. The trail bears right at Mud Run, wanders through a tunnel of rhododendron and ends with a view of Hawk Falls, a natural 25-foot waterfall. This trail is also an access point for fishing in Mud Run, which is delayed-harvest and artificial lures only.

Hawk Run got its name from the Hawk family that owned a farm on the property across from the parking lot. The trail was an old road from Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe) and sometimes remnants of wagon wheels, nails, and horseshoes can be found along the banks of Hawk Run.

Swimming is permitted only at the designated swimming area of Sand Spring Lake.

K -- Hickory Run Trail

1.3 miles, easiest hiking, cross-country skiing

This trail begins near the sharp bend on PA 534 west of the chapel. Parking is available along PA 534 across from the chapel. The trail descends into a field where the National Park Service built a picnic area and parking lot in the 1930s. Parts of the curbing can still be seen among the wildflowers. This is one of the best places in the park to see butterflies.

On the left, beyond the field, are foundations from the village of Hickory Run dating back to the early 1800s. A brick mill was established along the trail and sometimes these bricks, with Hickory Run printed on them, are exposed. Do not remove the bricks.

At the halfway mark of the trail, a footbridge crosses Hickory Run and connects with Sand Spring Trail on the other side of the creek. Hickory Run Trail does not cross the bridge, but narrows and follows the creek, eventually ending at Fireline Trail near the Lehigh River.

L -- Lake Trail

0.6 mile, easiest hiking, snowmobiling

Parking is available at Hickory Run Lake off of Boulder Field Road. The trailhead is about 100 yards up the road past the parking area. This short but very scenic trail runs around the back of Hickory Run Lake and connects to Stage Trail. Two streams must be crossed, but this is not a problem unless it has been raining heavily.

M -- Leonardsville Trail

0.6 mile, easiest hiking

Leonardsville Trail branches off the northern end of Stage Trail and ends at the park boundary (white blazes) with State Game Land 40. The trail resembles a tunnel through a remarkably dense stand of rhododendrons and at times can seem almost completely enclosed. A few small stream crossings are required.

The trail is a good place to look for animal tracks because the surface is mostly dirt. During the 1800s this trail was the main road between the villages of Leonardsville and Saylorsville.

N -- Manor House Trail

2.2 miles, more difficult hiking, snowmobiling

Parking is available off PA 534 at the Fireline Trail trailhead, or along PA 534 across from the chapel. Manor House Trail does not begin at the Manor House. When starting near the chapel, follow the road behind the chapel for approximately 0.3-mile to the Fourth Run Trailhead. Manor House Trail splits off Fourth Run Trail and curves toward the park boundary (white blazes).

The trail then follows the park boundary, eventually leaving the boundary to meet PA 534 across from the Fireline Trail trailhead. Most of the trail is easy walking, but the 1.5-mile section closest to PA 534 is extremely rocky.

O -- Nature Trail

0.4 mile, easiest hiking

Parking is available in the pavilion parking lot. The trailhead is near the pavilion. This short loop meanders through a variety of tree and plant species. Halfway around the loop, Deer Trail branches off.

Self-guided brochures PDF) corresponding with the numbered posts along the trail are available at the trailhead and visitor center.

P -- Orchard Trail

1.2 miles, most difficult hiking

The trail begins at the end of an unpaved access road at the eastern edge of the park off of PA 534, about 0.25-mile past the Hawk Falls/Boulder Field Trail parking area, or it can also be accessed from Hawk Falls Trail. Orchard Trail is shaped like a spoon. Where the 0.5 mile “handle” of the spoon connects to Hawk Falls Trail the trail is steep and rocky.

The loop section of the trail is a series of switchbacks down to Mud Run. This trail provides access to the Mud Run Natural Area and fishing in Mud Run, a delayed-harvest and artificial lures only stream. The trail is maintained by the Pocono Outdoor Club.

Q -- Pine Hill Trail

3.9 miles, more difficult hiking, cross-country skiing

Parking is available off of PA 534 at the trailhead, east of the campground. Most of the trail follows the park boundary and meanders through an oak/maple forest that is thick with mountain laurel. Blue Trail connects to Pine Hill Trail 1.6 miles from the trailhead. The latter portion of the trail descends toward the Lehigh River.

The trail ends at the intersection of Sand Spring Trail. A short, steep, rocky section near the end of the trail is unsuitable for cross-country skiing.

R -- Ridge Trail

1.1 miles, more difficult hiking

Parking is available along the one-way road between Saylorsville Dam and the chapel. When parking along PA 534 across from the chapel, follow the road behind the Chapel to the Fourth Run Trail trailhead. Ridge Trail is narrow and winds through the valley carved by Hickory Run. Near the fordway are remains of a double sawmill and flash dam built in the 1830s.

S -- Sand Spring Trail

2.6 miles, more difficult hiking, cross-country skiing

The trail begins in the campground near sites 13 and 108 and soon crosses an unbridged stream. Blue Trail branches off 0.25 mile from the trailhead. Hikers can also access the trail downstream from the chapel beyond the sewage treatment plant. Parking for this access point is along PA 534 across from the chapel.

The lower part of the trail was built over the old railroad bed that served the brick factory. A wooden water tower and waterlines seen along the trail are artifacts from the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the mid-1930s and 40s that originally developed the park as a National Recreational Demonstration Area.

Thick rhododendrons and large birch trees shadow large portions of the trail. Sand Spring Trail ends at the junction of Pine Hill Trail near the Lehigh River.

T -- Shades of Death

1 mile, most difficult hiking

Parking is available off PA 534 across from the chapel or adjacent to the visitor center and park office. Although the trail has a gruesome name (attributed to the thick forests and rough terrain experienced by the early settlers), this is one of the most picturesque trails in the park. The rocky trail follows Sand Spring Run and meanders through rhododendron thickets and unique rock formations.

There are also remains of logging mills and dams dating back to the early 1800s. Trout fishing is popular at the three dams found along the trail. Shades of Death is a favorite trail among bird watchers and is an excellent place to spot Blackburnian and black-throated green warblers in the spring and summer.

U -- Skyline Trail

2.1 miles, more difficult hiking, cross-country skiing

Narrow Skyline trail loops between Fireline and Gould trails. 0.3 mile from the Fireline Trail trailhead Skyline Trail branches off and meanders through a forest dominated by beech, gray birch and pitch pine.

Skyline Trail loops through Gould Trail and heads on to cross Fireline Trail by the Lehigh River and continues on the edge of a steep slope that provides an excellent view of the Lehigh River, then merges with Fireline Trail.

V -- Stage Trail

4.5 miles, more difficult hiking, snowmobiling

This wide trail bisects the park. Once the stagecoach road from Bethlehem to Wilkes-Barre, the trail is surprisingly flat and shows the skill of the early road builders.

Starting in the northwest section of the park, Stage Trail begins at the park boundary (white blazes), runs near group cabin camps. Leonardsville Trail can be accessed from this portion of Stage Trail.

The middle section of the trail runs between parts of Boulder Field Road. This lovely section runs across the top of a ridge cloaked in hemlock trees. Lake Trail can be accessed from this portion.

The eastern section of the trail begins on the exit road from Boulder Field and descends to the park boundary to become Old Stage Road in the village of Albrightsville. Boulder Field Trail can be accessed from this portion.

The east end of Stage Trail is called Bergers Field which is designated as a bluebird area. Please do not disturb the bluebird nest boxes placed around the field.

W -- Stone Trail

2.4 miles, easiest snowmobiling, hiking

Parking is available in the Boulder Field parking lot. This wide trail passes sheep laurel, hemlocks, and deciduous forest to the park boundary line. Follow the park boundary to the west to an intersection with Fourth Run Trail.

X -- Switchback Trail

0.7 miles, more difficult hiking

This trail connects Hickory Run Trail and Gould Trail. From Hickory Run Trail, the trail switchbacks up to the plateau, then meanders through a forest of beech, gray birch, and pitch pine to an intersection with Gould Trail.

Y -- Boundary Trail

1.5 miles, easiest hiking

This trail runs along the northern boundary of the park and connects Stone Trail with Fourth Run Trail.