Hike to Stairway Lake and Falls-Stairway Wild Area (Delaware State Forest)

The Stairway Wild Area is a place worth exploring with waterfalls, a lake, view, and extensive, abandoned bluestone quarries. Our route was about seven miles long and this hike is moderate to challenging. I think it is one of the more interesting hikes in the Poconos. Also some trail junctures have signs and the trails a blazed fairly well, although some of the lesser hiked trails are likely overgrown in summer.

Due to the trail layout, our route was little convoluted, but I enjoyed and would recommend it. We began at the parking area for the Stairway Lake Trail. The Boundary Trail may be shorter and it appeared to have a parking area as well, but was missing a sign.

We hiked the blue blazed Stairway Lake Trail through hardwoods with a large wetland off to our left. The trail was level and rolling, and easy to follow. The blue blazes are bit faded and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are repainted yellow in the future. Reach an old forest road and turn left. Notice the yellow blazes. Follow this old road and pass two yellow trails to the right. You will use both on this hike. The old road reaches some large ledges and climbs gradually. Reach sublime Stairway Lake, a truly scenic place. The lake is undeveloped and was formed by a small dam. A small peninsula juts out into it. On the trail, walk out to a fine view looking down to the Delaware River and into New York. There is also a campsite. This must be an incredible place to camp.

Retrace your steps down the hill and turn left onto the next yellow trail under hemlocks. The trail bends right, but to see Stairway Falls, you will need to go off trail to your left. Drop down to see the falls. It’s an odd falls, as it tumbles down a series of ledges with good height. But the flow seems dispersed over the ledges and the stream is small. It’s a nice feature but do not expect to be wowed, unless there is high water, or it is winter.

The yellow trail curves down, joins the Cut Trail. Turn left and descend. Cross Stairway Run along an old forest road. Large cliffs rise to your left. The gorge is to your right. The trail levels and then descends gradually with hemlock and rhododendron. Signs of the old bluestone quarries become more frequent, with ledges and piles of rock. Look for a small pond to the left of the trail.

A small stream joins the trail and the descent continues with more old quarries. Reach the bottom and make a sharp right, it is easy to continue straight. The ledges and old quarries continue. Barberry also joins the trail and there are dead hemlocks. A railroad is below you to the left. Hike along old quarries and piles of rock. There are also some small stone ruins. Soon, boulders and ledges appear along the trail.

The trail descends to Stairway Run and crosses it, but it is easier to just use the railroad. Now climb up the gorge of Stairway Run with ledges and hemlocks. Look for a cascading waterfall just off trail to the right; it is about fifty feet total. The trail then winds into beautiful hemlock and pine forests. The trail levels and reaches a juncture with a sign, and the front of an old, rusting Ford. Turn left. The trail is level with more ruins and another old, rusting vehicle off to your left. Reach the old forest road you walked in on and turn left. Retrace your steps back to the parking area.

When is the best time to hike here? I think it might be winter. Stairway Falls transforms into incredible ice flows. It is really worth seeing. The many ledges along this hike often feature ice flows and draperies.

Parking is at approximately 41.404461, -74.775261.

Stairway Falls in winter
Stairway Lake

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