This loop is one of the most scenic in the Poconos, and all of eastern Pennsylvania. It features a beautiful pond, hemlock forests, views, cliffs, gorge, and a stunning array of waterfalls, including famous Raymondskill Falls. The loop is about 5-6 miles long and is moderate in difficulty. It follows trails, most of which are blazed. On the map above, the brown trails are established, but do not have signs or blazes. Some of these “brown” trails appear on the national park’s website. I highly recommend including the brown trails as they greatly enhance the scenery of this hike.
We began from the Cliff Park trailhead as it has more parking than the Hackers Trailhead at Raymondskill Falls. Follow the Pond Loop to the left and enjoy views of the scenic pond with wooded hillsides. Climb gradually along an old grade and then turn left onto Buchanan Trail, heading towards Cliff Trail. On our hike, this part was closed due to nesting peregrine falcons, but is the recommended route if open.
Turn right onto Cliff Trail and hike along the ridge on top of the cliffs, enjoy Minisink Overlook and then Tristate Overlook, offering great views of the Delaware River valley and the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey. When the leaves are off the trees, the views are extensive. These cliffs are huge, so be very careful around them. At Tristate Overlook, notice an obvious, unmarked trail heading south along the ridge. We did not hike it, but it may be a shortcut for this route.
Follow the Cliff Trail downhill on an old grade, and notice an obvious grade ascending to the left. Climb up it, it is not signed or blazed. Reach the top and follow a trail down and to the right along the top of the ridge and cliffs. Reach awesome views looking south down the Delaware River. Follow the unmarked trail along the ridge and descend gradually to the road. Follow the road up to the parking area for Raymondskill Falls. Enjoy the views of this amazing falls, one of Pennsylvania’s tallest and hike to the top of the falls. Look for an unblazed trail heading upstream, follow it.
This trail is incredible as it explores stunning bedrock grottos, gorges, and many falls, slides, pools and cascades. The forest is mostly hemlock. The tallest falls is over forty feet. Whitewater kayakers often paddle this section of the creek when the water is high. Work your way up along the creek, enjoying the incredible scenery. This trail seems well-known as we passed other hikers. Reach the road again and turn right. Look for an old forest road to the left and follow it. This old forest road curves right and climbs gradually. Look for an established trail to the left that descends, follow it. Hike on top of the rim of a gorge with hemlocks, as Raymondskill Creek flows below. The scenery is beautiful. Descend to what I call the hemlock lowlands along the creek; the hemlock forest here is a joy to explore. The trail leaves the creek and climbs gradually, ending at the Hackers Trail. Turn left.
The Hackers Trail climbs slightly; a side trail to the left leads to an impressive slide and rock outcrop. Continue on the Hackers Trail to impressive Hackers Falls and its deep pool. There is so much scenery along this loop. Climb to the Buchanan Trail and turn left onto it. Follow this trail with pine trees, meadows, and abandoned buildings back to the parking area.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is Pennsylvania’s largest and one of its most popular national park properties. It is an amazing place, with stunning gorges, waterfalls, vistas, ponds, and rock outcrops. This is the website of the Cliff Park trails.
Again, the brown trails on the map above are not signed or blazed. However, they are well established and easy to follow.
Parking at Cliff Park Trailhead is at 41.303798, -74.832765. Hackers Trailhead/Raymondskill Falls is at 41.290197, -74.841145.