16:28 min October 02, 2023

Lackawaxen River Trails: Part I

Learn about the new trail system connections coming to Wayne County in the Pocono Mountains!

Wayne County, Pennsylvania is located in the northeast corner of the state. Its county seat is Honesdale, and it's a great place for recreation in the great outdoors. You will find many trails in the county waiting for you to explore, hike, and relax. Several great ones make up the Lackawaxen River Trails system. And someday, the plan is to link them all together from Honesdale to Hawley. But you don't have to wait, you can enjoy them now.

The story of the Lackawaxen River Trails starts in 2017, when the Wayne Pike Trails and Waterways Alliance was formed. The following year, the alliance partnered with the Wayne County Commissioners to do a trail feasibility study.

"We put together a trails group and we started talking more and more about outdoor recreation,” said Wayne County Commissioner Brian Smith.

“We were charged with looking at the things that would add to the quality of life in Wayne County, and the number one thing that came up was creating trails,” said Molly Rodgers.

“When we did the feasibility study about this trail system and how to connect all these communities, everybody always thinks, oh well, the first thing people think people want to do on trails is bicycle, or the first thing they want to do is run or jog. Number one was to view nature in a natural setting,” said Grant Genzlinger.

The final report of the study concluded that a multi-purpose trail is possible, and public support is very strong.

“The result was that it was feasible to put together a water and hiking trail from Honesdale down, all the way to Hawley,” said Emily Wood with Woodland Design.

Based on the feedback, a trail concept plan was created. It depicted the large scale and long-range vision for what the trail system could become using the river, railroad, and U.S. Route 6 quarters to connect key community resources, existing trails, recreational facilities, economic hubs, and cultural opportunities.

“We’re kind of looking at all modes of transportation bike, paddle, pedestrian, and automobile separating them and making clear connections as best we could, so, great start,” said Jayson Wood with Woodland Design.

The plan is to connect Honesdale to Hawley and Lake Wallenpaupack through a trail system

“The starting point was right here in Honesdale Pennsylvania. There are already some set points. White Mills, Indian Orchard, and then Hawley of course, which double as both hopefully future trail access for hiking,” said Emily Wood.

The real aim is to connect communities along the spine of the Lackawaxen River, which historically has always been a part of development and settlement in the community.

The Lackawaxen River Trails consist of three modes of transportation. A walking/hiking trail which may or may not include biking.

“What we are calling the pedestrian trail primarily adjacent to the train tracks between Honesdale and Hawley would be wide enough and allow for biking, walking, several other kind of pedestrian oriented means of travel,” said Jayson Wood with Woodland Design.

A biking trail utilizing Route 6.

“We have a bike route along route 6 that's already kind of recorded by PennDOT, you don't have necessarily bike lanes, but you have the right to bike,” added Wood.

And a river trail consisting of the Dyberry Creek, Lackawaxen Rriver and the Wallenpaupack Creek. One of the first things being addressed is river access.

“Up until now, there has been no public access points on the Lackawaxen River in Wayne or Pike county. And so, the effort was the individual communities are doing a great job Honesdale, White Mills, Hawley, but they're not connected and it's not obvious to people,” said Grant Genzlinger.

“The people who own private property along the river in Wayne County, it was one of their major complaints. People have to trespass, they have to park and walk on our land, which is private in order to get to the river. So, we said ‘We can solve that problem, we can actually create a river trail from Honesdale down to Hawley. We can create public access points with parking, and handicap accessibility, and trails,’” said Molly Rodgers.

Access to the Lackawaxen River is planned for three areas. In Honesdale at Sycamore Point, in White Mills, and in Hawley near Bingham Park. The Hawley access is operational.

“Because of the connection from Honesdale and White Mills down, this is a great exit point for kayakers coming the whole distance. This is also unique in Hawley we are at the confluence of three rivers. The Lackawaxen, Middle Creek, and the Wallenpaupack so you get a wonderfully diverse viewscape of nature when you’re kayaking here,” said Grant Genzlinger.

A new access point at White Mills has just been completed.

“In White Mills there has been also a Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission as well as DCNR funding to help create a honest and true river access for the public so that if you’re coming down from Honesdale and you want to take out there you can. And there will be a pre-cast boat ramp there as well and some comfort facilities because it's equidistant almost between Honesdale and Hawley right there,” said James Hamill with the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

And one is planned for Sycamore point is Honesdale.

“There is expansion plans now to make this handicap accessible for fishing. It's going to be you know a little bit better roadway where people can come down and put their kayaks in,” said Commissioner Smith.

“People that live here don't even know this even exists. Because it is not super accessible, it is pretty steep to get down to this spot. But when we're able to grade it and make it a real boat launch and community space, I think that this going to be a real gem for Honesdale,” said Ryanne Jennings with the Wayne County Community Foundation.

A much more difficult step is developing a walking trail between the towns.

“We are looking and designing a walking trail from Honesdale south and east going towards Hawley as the next section because planning takes time, funding takes time, and you always need to be working on that, even while the other areas are under construction. But you will see a lot of change in the next 12 months,” said Genzlinger.

Now let's take a look at some of the trails that exist in Wayne County that you can take advantage of right now. There are 4 located in Honesdale. We start in Honesdale where there are several trails set up in the community. You can get started in Central Park, a block from downtown next to the Wayne County Courthouse. It contains a .4 mile loop, for an easy 7 minute walk. This is a gentle 3% or less grade. Most wheelchairs and strollers can be used here. There are benches along the route for resting. This trail is great for running and walking. Dogs are welcome, but they must be on a leash. Central Park has a playground, seating areas, monuments, and walking trails, the park also hosts numerous events. From this point you can walk into downtown Honesdale and see the many shops and eateries.

Nearby, you'll find a more challenging trail. This is the famous Irving Cliff with a great view of Honesdale. Irving Cliff and Gibbons Memorial Park is a 55-acre public park accessible from the bottom of the cliff at Park Street and Riverside Drive, or from the top off Cliff Street. Irving Cliff provides panoramic views of Honesdale. It gets its name from Washington Irving the famous American author. He was friends Phillip Hone who help found Honesdale as a part of the D&H Canal. Back when they were friends and they came here, Washington Irving actually hiked up the cliff and made some notations in a letter to his sister about it, so it is where it gets its name from.

On top of the cliff, is the Richard “Dick” Smith Memorial Star which shines each holiday season. A native of Honesdale, Smith wrote the song "Winter Wonderland" in 1934. There is 1.5 miles of trails here, with several connecting side trails off the main trail.

Just outside of Honesdale is Apple Grove near the Wayne County Fairgrounds off Route 191. While there are no trails here yet, there are plenty of places to walk. It is an open green space, with parking, and a picnic area, adjacent to Veterans Park with a pavilion.

“We have the opportunity at Apple Grove to develop a dog park and trail system there thanks to DCNR funding the borough has obtained. And that would also allow for different amenities surrounding that too from recreation for kids, maybe some opportunities to get on the Dyberry Creek as well,” said Jim Hamill.

“When I grew up, I used to go down there swimming all the time in the creek. It's a beautiful area, there's some nice pools there. A lot of people use it for fly fishing, and fishing in general,” said Dan Corrigan with Northeast Wilderness Experience and Sawmill Cycles.

From Apple Grove, we work our way back into town, at the Park Street Complex.

“When the county took that over, they made a lot of improvements to the area down there. Both in the playground area, as well as the walking trail around the park street complex. And it is a river walkway and it used to be overgrown on the riverside, and there was a fence because it was an old school, and a playground. And you couldn't even see the river, people didn't even know the river was there half the time,” said Commissioner Smith.

Here you'll find an elevated pathway along the Lackawaxen River with a nicely maintained gravel surface. There are picnic tables and a playground along the trail. And access down to the river where you can rest.

This trail ends at Park Street, where you can walk into downtown Honesdale, to connect with the other trails we mentioned.

“We have talked to the hospital about building possibly a more standard kind of walkway between the Park Street complex and the Stourbridge area and the river bridge and then into downtown Honesdale,” said Lisa Champeau with Wayne Memorial Health System.

“Because we have borough property on either side of the Lackawaxen River as it comes down from the Park Street complex, that we would like overtime develop some trail systems there too to integrate Gibbons Memorial Park and then down through the Lackawaxen River Trails launch at the country property, as well at the point there,” said Hamill.

The future of the Lackawaxen River Trails, is to provide a trail along railroad tracks out to White Mills, about six miles away.

On the corner of Route 6 and Elizabeth Street, you'll find the Dorflinger Factory Museum. Tucked between the museum and the historic White Mills Fire house is the White Mills Community Trail, this up-hill, down-hill path travels along a tributary of the Lackawaxen River to Lollipop Pond. It is adjacent to the homes on Charles Street which once housed workers at the glass factory. The museum is a great place to check out local history. It is open April 15th through December 15th, Wednesday through Sunday.

Dorlinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary in White Mills has several different trails here branching off of the main trail which is 2.7 miles long. The parking lot is located off of Elizabeth Street in White Mills. As you make your way down towards Trout Lake to the start of the trails, you'll find a very clean bathroom facility with running water.

You'll also find the Dorflinger Glass Factory Museum here, which is open may through October, Wednesday through Sunday.

There are three great trails here that take you into the forests that surround the sanctuary. The Spring House Trail is an easy 1.8 mile loop, that takes about 40 minutes to complete. You can combine that with the Rock Oak and Old Meadows trails to make a 2.7 mile loop trail for a one hour walk. Within that loop, is the Flying Squirrel Trail, which is a 1.3 mile loop trail that takes about 30 minutes to finish.

Our walk through the sanctuary took us past the outdoor amphitheater, concerts are held here throughout the summer.

We eventually made it out to a meadow where we found the beautiful Suydam pond. More hiking through the forest revealed an assortment of different plants and animals along the way

Here on the property, you'll find these maps like this trail legend here, which explains where you're at, and find the dot on here. And you can see the different trails that make up this whole sanctuary. And they are all marked with the trees too, there is colors on them that allow you to figure out, you know, which trail you want to go on.

As you wind your way through the 600-acre preserve, we go through changes in elevation, and the trail surfaces change. Good hiking shoes or boots are recommended.

We end at Trout Lake, where we take a break on a swing and relax. The Wayne Pike Trails and Waterways Alliance is a not-for-profit entity. It acts solely to generate funding and oversee the development of the Lackawaxen River Trails. You can donate by becoming a trailkeeper, go to or contact Ryanne Jennings at the foundation 570-251-9993.