Learn more about the trail system connections coming to Wayne & Pike counties in the Pocono Mountains!
Wayne County, Pennsylvania is home to many unique trails. Some are located right in towns like Honesdale and Hawley, while others are just a short drive into forested landscapes.
In our last segment, we discussed a move underway to link all of these trails together.
The Lackawaxen River Trails idea was formed in 2017. The vision includes a network of river launches from Honesdale to Indian Orchard, White Mills and Hawley.
Since then, feasibility studies have become action items, resulting in the construction of new trails and lack of wax in river access points.
This includes a new river access at White Mills with a boat ramp, parking and restroom facilities called White Mills River Access Park.
Those involved say this is an important step to improving the economy of the area, while at the same time developing healthy lifestyles.
"The outdoors is something that I think is nurturing to everybody and to just take yourself, your wife, your family members, and enjoy nature, I think has a great deal to do with improving your health and the well-being of everybody," said Wayne County Commissioner Brian Smith.
"This is exercise. It's good for your health. It's good for your heart health. And again, we're trying to make exercise much more accessible," said Lisa Champeau with Wayne Memorial Health System.
"It's all part of an ecosystem to make sure that we have a healthy community," added Ryanne Jennings with the Wayne County Community Foundation.
"From the trails that exist. There is so much interest in using those trails, which elevates quality of life, which attracts people to moving here," said Grant Genzlinger with the Lackawaxen River Trails group.
The Lackawaxen River Trails consists of three modes of transportation hiking, biking and floating. Work continues on a plan to connect Honesdale to Hawley and Lake Wallenpaupack through a trail system both on land and in the water.
We've previously looked at the trails in Honesdale and White Mills. Now let's explore the trails in and around Hawley and lake Wallenpaupack.
This is the Delaware and Hudson Canal Park at Lock 31. We start with an historic trail just outside of Hawley. The large gravel parking lot is located off Route 6. This is a 1.6 mile trail
that takes you around the remnants of the D&H Canal and the Lackawaxen River.
"With the Wayne County Historical Society, they put a tremendous amount of work into that. Again, another really nice walking trail that's along there," said Dan Corrigan of Northeast Wilderness Experience and Sawmill Cycles.
It's an easy route, taking about a half hour to complete. But there is so much to see here. And you can spend a couple of hours.
"A beautiful historic park alongside the river trail system," added Genzlinger.
This particular part of the trail is taking us to the Lackawaxen River -- absolutely -- should be pretty cool to see.
Access to the Lackawaxen River means you'll find anglers fishing along the bank. This trail is also great for birdwatching and cross-country skiing. You will walk through some grassy fields, but be careful as some parts along the canal can be slippery. The path along the river has some tree roots, but it's easy to navigate. This towpath trail can be busy at times. It is open all year long and dogs are welcome on the trail. While the trail loops around this property, you can also walk east on the trail to a point where it comes out on Route 6 for a brief walk.
Then the trail takes hikers off road and back near the Lackawaxen River toward Hawley. Coming from Lock 31, the Hawley Trail follows the Lackawaxen river east into the town of Hawley. The trail itself straddles the river and the canal. It is open seasonally weather permitting, from dawn until dusk. Along the way, you'll find several paths down to the river. You'll also encounter a wooden bridge constructed around old stair steps made of stone. As you follow the trail, you can see the original Delaware and Hudson Canal built nearly 200 years ago.
Parallel to the river, this is a 108 mile long civil engineering achievement built over three years, largely by hand.
The canal was a means to transport anthracite coal from Pennsylvania mines to the Hudson River at Kingston, New York. From there, it was shipped downriver to New York City. Mules walked along the Towpath Trail as they pulled barges full of coal on the canal. It operated from 1828 until 1898, after 70 years of operation. It was shut down in favor of using railroads to ship coal after the canal was closed. It was drained and the canal land was sold and split up.
"The D&H Canal ran along many parts of the Lackawaxen. So as you're traveling down, you can see remnants of the old canal walls and kind of connect with that history," said Corrigan.
"The Wayne County Historical Society has already created along this historic towpath, this walking natural setting where you can kind of walk from there right into town, into Hawley here," said James Hamill with the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.
The Hawley Trail ends at the Settlers Inn property. There's a beach area along the Lackawaxen River where you can take a moment to rest.
Some people also fish in this location. There's a gate here that takes you on to the Settlers property where you can then access Route 6 into the town of Hawley.
We are in Hawley, where there are several places to walk on trails. And you can start right here in Bingham Park.
Bingham Park is bordered by routes 6 and 590. There is a loop trail which goes along the perimeter of the park. Here you'll find plenty of parking and nice restrooms.
You can also access the Lackawaxen River by using the Riverwalk Trail. You can drop in or take out a canoe or kayak at the Hawley Access.
This is part of the Lackawaxen River Trails access points from Honesdale Sycamore Point to Indian Orchard and the White Mills River Access Park.
"We are at the confluence of three rivers. The Lackawaxen, Middle Creek and the Wallenpaupack. So you get a wonderfully diverse view scape of nature when you're kayaking here," added Genzlinger.
Future plans include a trail from Bingham Park that will have a footbridge over the Lackawaxen onto the levee trail. But for now you'll have to go back on Route 6 east over the Lackawaxen River and turn left onto River Street to reach the levee trail.
True to its name, this trail follows along the top of the levee. This is a 6/10 of a mile gravel trail. It's great for walking, jogging or even riding a bike.
Down below the trail is Riverside Park, which has a baseball field and a dog park.
"There is a trail system here that was developed many years ago to kind of facilitate the kind of recreation that we want to see in our communities," added Hamill. "And Hawley is really on the leading edge of that."
This levee was built to protect the town from flooding. The trail ends at Church Street on the other side of Hawley.
From there, you can access the shops and businesses at the Silk Mill and other areas of town. But the future of this trail is to build the proposed Gorge Trail.
Once that's complete, you'll be able to walk from Lock 31 to Hawley, then up through the Gorge Trail to the Lake Wallenpaupack dike for a nearly five mile hike.
"The Gorge Trail is going under construction within the next eight months or so and the Gorge Trail, which will be a more challenging trail," said Genzlinger. "More Appalachian Trail orientation to get up to the lake... again, important to connect the lake area with downtown Hawley by a means other than a car."
There's also another plan to work with Pike County to build a trail along the Lackawaxen river and the railroad tracks all the way to where the Lackawaxen meets with the Delaware River.
"Because we do have a goal of 28 miles, by the way, all the way to Lackawaxen," added Champeau. "But we're focused right now on just completing a few parcels so people can see, Wow, this is really going to work, this is happening and take advantage of it."
There are two trails at the dam of Lake Wallenpaupack. The best way to access them is from three parking areas near the lake, starting at the Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center.
You can access the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail. This is a 6/10 of a mile trail which starts near the dam and follows the path of the Wallenpaupack Creek.
This is a walking trail with bridge structures built to take you over massive pipes that carry water from the lake to a power plant three and a half miles away.
As you continue on the trail, you will pass under Route 6 and enter a wooded area. When you come down the stairs here, you get to the overlook of the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail and you get to see the wetlands.
"It takes you down into this area where it just seems like it's off the grid, but it's right there alongside the hydroelectric dam and eventually will connect with the gorge down through to where we're standing today," said Hamill.
The other trail along the lake is the Wallenpaupack Lake Trail. It runs almost one and a half miles from the Environmental Learning Center. Along the trail, you can get close to the lake and relax along the shoreline.
You'll pass the rear property of Wallenpaupack Area High School and travel through the Wilsonville Campground. Here, you'll find another parking place for the trail at the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center. There are bathroom facilities here, and there's a public beach at this location.
Continue walking and you'll come to a crosswalk to go across Route 6 to a shopping area with food and other quaint shops.
Back on the trail is the Tafton Dike with breathtaking views of the lake and boating activity. Sunsets here are spectacular, and many people sit on the benches to watch the sun go down.
Go a little farther on the Wallenpaupack Lake Trail and you'll get to the third parking area off Route 507. These trails at the lake opened in 2010. We hope you take time to try one or all of the trails offered in both Wayne and Pike counties.
You can find out more at LackawaxenRiverTrails.org
The Wayne and 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 trail keeper.