Photography by Dennis Cieri / Written by Lorena Caro
This year, Bushkill Falls managed to establish a safe, socially distant experience for all their visitors during the spring/summer season. From redefining their guest experience through contactless operations, to ensuring as much social distancing as possible on the trails, a trip to the “Niagara of Pennsylvania” is one that will promise to be a great walk for all the adventure junkies in the midst of this uncertain time.
Located in the Pocono Mountains of the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, this scenic park is open from April 1st through October 31st, April and November weather permitting. It spans about 300 acres and includes eight beautiful waterfalls along with two miles of hiking trails, bridges and walkways. Visitors can purchase an admission ticket to hike in the park during open season via their website.
For our family vacation to the falls last year, we explored the natural paths along the park’s rivers, making sure to ensure our safety, but also making sure that everyone had fun. If you visit this scenic park, you’ll be sure to find many wonderful man made bridges and carved trails offering a somewhat guided view of the great outdoors.
Is visiting the park worth it? What will most likely stick through the 2021 season? Read on to learn a little bit about the falls and discover a slice of what you can expect to see on your visit. See whether or not this interesting place is for you.
First, A Brief History
Bushkill Falls was first legally owned by Charles E. Peters, who officially opened the attraction to the public in 1904. By that point, there was only a single path and a swinging bridge over the head of the main falls. Over the course of his lifetime, Charles developed more of the land around the waterfalls by building trails and rustic bridges to ensure access to all of the park’s falls. Many of those structures are still operational today.
Today, the land is still owned by the Peters however thanks to the extensive historic preservation and maintenance of the park structures, there is plenty to see and do firsthand. Along with the falls there is a small history museum, a cafe, gift shop, a golf course, fishing lake, and much more in the vicinity.
The park is currently closed due to the beginning of the colder winter season, however it will re – open this spring.
One of the things that makes this park stand out from the other parks in Pennsylvania is the network of easy to walk paths and bridges. The kids definitely had a great time walking a couple steps ahead and exploring the area firsthand before we caught up to them. However, despite the easy roads we still encountered many natural flowers, trees, and other plants along the way. This year everyone was required to wear a mask in the hiking trails, making for a much safer experience for all. It will most likely be seen in the upcoming season as a safety measure.
For those who do not like walking but still want a taste of the outdoors, there is a short trail that will take visitors an average of 15 minutes to complete and it leads directly to the Main Falls. The longer hikes on the other hand range from 45 minutes to two hours but they include views of all eight waterfalls. There are three longer hikes in total which vary in difficulty depending on the trail. You will most definitely need to pack extra sanitizer and an extra mask just in case.
The main attraction of the park is of course the main falls which has an impressive 100 foot drop. From there, the river continues spanning an additional 70 feet through a gorge strewn with gigantic boulders. To put everything into perspective, if you were to measure the top of the Main Falls all the way to the bottom of the Lower Gorge, the length of the drop would be 300 feet.
Because we had children with us, we decided to take it easy when and go at our own pace, which was okay because it wasn’t crowded that day. Going on a weekday definitely helped because the weekends are usually significantly more crowded.
All in all we spent a solid hour trekking one of the easier long paths and later ate our lunch in the nearby picnic grounds. The staff enforced mask – wearing as much as possible and there were signs posted all over the entrance. The park is usually open from 9am and closes at either 4pm or 5pm depending on the conditions.
We would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys calm walks with a little twist. For photographers, this is also a very scenic route that should provide many picture perfect opportunities. Our family fully enjoyed taking the time to look at all the interesting plants and small animals scurrying in the area. The waterfalls are also quite beautiful up close.