We just had a very nice week in Pennsylvania and wanted to share some great spots we found for family hiking. The trails and parks listed below are good for parents who want to introduce their children to hiking and enjoying nature without too much work.
The Lehigh Valley area is just a two and a half hour drive from NYC, and there is a lot of stuff to do there for people who want to enjoy nature.
The historic town of Jim Thorpe reminded me a little of Gujo Hachiman, where we lived for three years in rural Japan. Both are nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains, and both have a strong sense of history. Of course, Gujo Hachiman is much, much older, but the character of Jim Thorpe was fun and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. There is river rafting, hiking, and biking available in and along the nearby river. We chose to bike because we had small children. The bike path along the river was made from a de-commissioned railway bed, so the riding is very easy. The excellent bike rental shop provides maps, and for the more adventurous, you can be dropped off 15 or 30 miles up the trail for the gentle, slightly downhill ride back to town.
We just rented bikes and rode a few miles up the trail and back. The views were great.
A view of the bike trail.
There is also a train ride along the gorge for people who want to enjoy the views without doing any biking, hiking, or rafting. We took the train ride and the kids loved it.
Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
Some very easy hiking on short but varied trails can be enjoyed at the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center. The Henry Woods trail is a two-mile hike along a pretty little stream. It’s very, very pretty and there are chances to wade in the river and enjoy some high views from one bank.
Brady’s Lake is a couple of miles from the town of Blakeslee, up a dirt road. It has the feeling of being deep in the woods, and the five mile trail is easy to hike. It is also a good trail for easy mountain biking. The trail follows the lakeshore and then goes off into the woods.
A view of Brady’s Lake.
Click here for Brady's Lake Trail Information.
Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area
The Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area is a small park, not far from Brady’s Lake. It’s a great spot for a picnic, and the easy trail along the river leads to a good fishing spot near some small, pretty waterfalls.
Fishing in the Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area
Click for info on the Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area
On our way back to NYC, we stopped by Bushkill Falls. This park is very popular, but the crowds were not overwhelming. Everyone was in a good mood, and there was an extremely diverse group of people enjoying the hiking and views. The hikes are all very easy, even the hikes labeled “For hikers only”. I think this park must get a lot of visitors who don’t usually go on hikes, so they have to be warned when the pavement stops that the trail might get a little uneven. We hiked the most difficult trails with a five-year-old and he had a blast. The views are beautiful.
The trail has many viewing platforms and stairs.
We even saw a young buck eating in a meadow.
Click for more on Bushkill Falls