The chilly nights and frosty mornings this week finally feel like fall! Despite the arrival of corn mazes, football, and everything pumpkin (including pumpkin dog cookies at the CNL boutique), the warm temperatures staved off those beautiful fall colors. Those flashy leaves are finally making a peak appearance, fashionably late.
If you caught our last blog post, you know that I think there is no better way to watch the leaves change color than on a hiking trail with a furry friend! Now that we know what to bring, it’s time to strap on those hiking boots and hit the trail with our dogs. We are fortunate to have so many easily accessible, breathtaking hikes so close to home.
Below are a few ideas. Comment on our Facebook post if you have any suggestions!
An extra tip: Take the long way. Stop at a farmstand, wave to the cows, and watch the bucolic countryside transform into sun-dappled forest thicket with your pooch by your side.
I’m sure you knew that you’d see the A.T. make the list! We might take it for granted, but can we talk about how amazing the Appalachian Trail is? At 2,190 miles long, it’s the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. Did you know that the most stunning AT vista in Pennsylvania is close to the Valley?
The Pinnacle (Moderate Difficulty)
The Pinnacle in Berks County is one of the best viewpoints on the entire Appalachian Trail according to many hikers.
Valley Rim Trail & The Road are hikes that will take you past Pulpit Rock before reaching the Pinnacle. These are harder, very rocky hikes. In my opinion, the Furnace Creek Road hike is a much better fit for most hikers with kids or dogs. It is a 9.5 mile loop, which may sound daunting, but only takes a couple hours to hike to the vista and goes faster on the way down.
To hike the trail:
Park at the Hamburg Reservoir in Windsor Township (Reservoir Road off of Old Route 22)
Follow the road from the parking area (it will be obvious) and cross a small bridge over Furnace Creek. The road will fork. Stay left. The road will pass a metal gate and the reservoir. Eventually, you will come to a trail with blue blazes. Follow the blazes for about 1.5 miles to reach the helipad (a large clearing). When you enter the clearing, you will see a white blazed trail, this is the Pinnacle Side Trail. Follow the trail to the Pinnacle! When you see the huge pile of rocks (Cairn) you’ve just about made it. Add a rock to the pile to signify that you made it! This trail is frequently trafficked, especially on the weekends, so if you second guess yourself, just ask a fellow hiker!
Bake Oven Knob (options for Easy – Hard Difficulty)
Closer to those in the Valley, but still on the AT is Bake Oven Knob. There are a variety of hikes from easy to difficult and short to long. When I hike Bake Oven Knob with my dogs, I cheat a little by parking ¾ mile from the outlook. It’s enough of a hike for the dogs and I to get a workout before enjoying the panoramic views of the Valley.
To hike the trail:
Parking: Start on Bake Oven Road in Germansville. Follow the road to the T. Make a left onto Mountain Road and then make the first right. You will now be on Ulrich Road. The paved road will curve and you will see gravel ahead of you. Follow the gravel road up the mountain and you will find a large parking lot on your right.
Get on the trail in the far right corner of the lot. The trail to the vista will be clear.
Waterfalls, anyone? Glen Onoko in Lehigh Gorge State Park is about an hour from the Valley and is absolutely gorgeous (pun intended). However, if you don’t mind pushing a little further, Ricketts Glen State Park is about two hours from the Valley and is really something to see.
Glen Onoko (Hard Difficulty)
The Glen Onoko Falls hike can be slippery and difficult in spots, please be prepared and wear hiking boots. I’ve seen kids and dogs on the trail and also hiked the trail when I was a child so it’s nothing impossible–just be careful!
To access the hike, park near the Falls Trail. From Main St. in Jim Thorpe, turn left onto the D & L Trail (there will be a Lehigh Gorge Trail sign at the intersection). Drive along the base of the mountain and along the train tracks. Cross a wooden bridge to a parking area. Follow the steps down from the parking area to the Falls Trail sign and turn right, walking under the bridge to begin the hike. This is a relatively short hike–45 minutes to the top. There are a variety of ways the hike can be extended if you are inspired to keep hiking.
Ricketts Glen (options from Easy – Hard Difficulty)
Ricketts Glen State Park in Luzerne County encompasses over 13,000 acres of land and includes 2 lakes, almost 30 miles of hiking trails, and 22 waterfalls! Just like Glen Onoko, the trail that brings you past these stunning falls can be slippery and difficult in spots. Again, just be prepared and wear proper footwear. Many visitors love bringing their pups on this trail.
The Lake Rose Loop/Falls trail is moderate in difficulty and passes 17 of the 22 beautiful waterfalls. This is the trail to hike to really get the most out of a day trip to Ricketts Glen. To get to the trailhead: Enter Ricketts Glen State Park from Route 487. Go past the ranger station and across the dam. Make the first right onto the gravel road and follow it about ½ mile to the Lake Rose Parking Area.
The trails at Ricketts Glen are well marked and full of pretty surprises like bridges and of course, several waterfalls that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
You don’t need to climb a mountain to enjoy the outdoors in the Lehigh Valley. If you’re familiar with our park system, you know that as you venture into the parks you can completely forget that you’re close to the city. Parks like Rodale, the Allentown Rose Gardens, Lock Ridge, and the Lehigh Parkway are all wonderful places to explore with your pup.
You may be a regular visitor to our parks, but what about the Lehigh Canal Trail? The D & L trail is full of history. Although the canal is no longer used to transport coal, a tranquil, winding trail along the water remains.
Another historic and beautiful walking trail to visit is the Ironton Rail-Trail. Some of the trail meanders through a wooded area and is perfect for enjoying those fall leaves. Don’t forget to stop at the historical markers!
Have any favorite spots that we didn’t talk about here? Tell us about them on our Facebook post.