Located in the northwestern portion of the Pennsylvania Poconos is Prompton State Park. Situated roughly halfway between Milford and Scranton along Route 6, this park is often overlooked by visitors to the area. Those that do visit are most often drawn to the park’s 280-acre lake or the 20+ miles of Prompton State Park mountain biking trails. However, if you love hiking and waterfalls, the park’s northeastern corner offers a great opportunity for exploration.
Driving along the western edge of the park from Route 6, you might be surprised to learn that Prompton State Park is officially considered undeveloped. Thanks to the Friends of Prompton State Park and the Army Corps of Engineers, the western side of the park is home to a Prompton State Park boat launch, a pavilion, and even a disc golf course for visitors to enjoy. However, the northeastern portion of the park shows the area’s lack of development and receives relatively few visitors.
The park’s North Trailhead leaves from a seemingly abandoned parking area near the intersection of Creek Drive and Bear Creek Road. From here, an abandoned roadway meanders off into the woods. Prompton State Park was opened in the 1960s, and it’s likely that this road as been closed to traffic since that time, though I wasn’t able to find any specific information on its history.
As you start your hike along the abandoned roadway, it’s a good idea to make note of the wooden map near the trailhead as there were no printed maps here to pick up. For this hike, you’ll be hiking along the East Shore Trail, Sidewinder Trail, and the Cliff Trail.
While the hike starts along a roadway, the road quickly disappears and is replaced with a narrow trail along the Lackawaxen River. When I visited in mid-June, the trail was a bit overgrown in places, but it was still easy to follow.
The first trail you’ll come to along the East Shore Trail is a short connector known as the Hiker Trail. You could use this trail, which connects to the Cliff Trail, to do a modified and shorter version of the loop written about here, but if you want to do the full hike, continue past this trail. It’s worth point out that the Hiker Trail is not printed on the park’s online map, but is on the wooden one near the trailhead.
After hiking about half a mile, you’ll come to the Sidewinder Trail. The turn for the Sidewinder Trail is located just after a small bridge and is the second trail off of the East Shore Trail. The turn is not well marked, but there is a sign about 100 feet up the trail that will let you know that you are on the right track.
The Sidewinder Trail is a steep trail that snakes its way up the hillside in a series of switchbacks. While you’ll only be hiking about half a mile along this trail, this is easily the most challenging part of the hike.
Near the top of the Sidewinder Trail, you’ll reach the waterfalls of Prompton State Park. The waterfalls are a series of drops along a stream that empty into the Lackawaxen River at the bottom of the hill. While I can’t find a specific name for this creek, there is a nearby trail called the Pine Creek Trail, so it’s very possible that this is the creek’s name (Please comment below if you know the creek’s name for sure).
Along the Sidewinder Trail, there is a sign that conveniently says “To Water Falls [sic].” The viewing area for the waterfalls is located about 25 feet above the stream. If you want to get a closer look, there is a very steep trail that heads down to the creek below. Note that the rocks here can be quite slippery, so use extreme caution if you venture down to the stream.
There are 2-3 drops along this section of the creek that increase in size as you head downhill. Unfortunately, this stream doesn’t seem to carry much water and runs dry well before other waterfalls in the Poconos do. If you are coming just for the Prompton State Park waterfall, I’d only recommend a visit during times of very high water. However, this hike through Prompton State Park offers the chance to see one of the lesser-known and more beautiful trails in this portion of the state, so a visit is worthwhile at any time of the year.
From the waterfall, you have three choices. You can head back down the Sidewinder Trail to return to your car, you can hike along the Cliff Trail to the Hiker Trail and return to your car that way, or you can finish the loop, which is what I’d recommend.
To finish the loop, continue hiking uphill along the Sidewinder Trail. You will eventually reach a creek crossing and the Cliff Trail. If water levels are high, it might be difficult or impossible to cross the stream without getting your feet wet, but for most of the year, it shouldn’t be a challenge.
The Cliff Trail is 1.3 miles long and does a loop along the hillside before returning to the Sidewinder Trail. The first part of this trail follows cliffs that reach heights of approximately 40-50 feet. While the forested land means that there aren’t any overlooks, it’s still possible to look over the edge to the forest below.
Shortly after passing the Hiker Trail, the Cliff Trail turns away from the cliffs and loops through a pristine wooded area. The trail is overgrown in places, but is easy enough to follow through the woods.
Once you return to the creek, the trail is a bit tricky, and it can be hard to figure out where you are supposed to cross the creek. Fortunately, since you are along the same creek bed where the waterfalls are, and the trail runs on both sides of the creek, it’s pretty much impossible to get lost here. Just cross the creek where you can and follow it downstream back to the Sidewinder Trail.
Once back to the Sidewinder Trail, it’s a simple matter of following that trail back down to the East Shore Trail along the river and heading upstream back to your car.
If you complete the entire hike as listed, you are looking at a hike of roughly 3.5 miles. Aside from the brief uphill along the Sidewinder Trail, the hike doesn’t present much of a challenge. However, the chance to see the waterfalls and hike through the beautiful forest offers a scenic hike that’s well-worth completing.
If you’re looking for a secluded hike in the Poconos, you won’t want to miss this hike through Prompton State Park in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
Note: Parking for this hike can be found at the following coordinates: 41.635631, -75.347321.
Want to see more of Pennsylvania’s best waterfalls? Check out our Pennsylvania Waterfalls page! If you’re looking to stay in the area, enjoy this list of waterfalls in the Poconos. Enjoy the region further at Shuman Point Natural Area and Archbald Pothole State Park.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]