The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation is home to dozens of beautiful waterfalls including some of the tallest in Pennsylvania. These falls, as well as the great trails and vistas, draw tens of thousands of visitors to this beautiful corner of the Pocono Mountains each year.
While many of these well-known sites can get quite crowded during busy times of the year, some areas remain relatively tranquil throughout the year. One such area is the trails of the Poconos Environmental Education Center (PEEC).
The PEEC is an educational center in the Delaware Water Gap that focuses on teaching about sustainability, environmentalism, and appreciation for nature. In addition to both short programs and summer camps, the PEEC is also home to seven trails that combine to create a trail network of 11 total miles.
All trails start and end near the Poconos Environmental Education Center’s main building, allowing visitors to easily do multiple trails or simply return to their car without having to backtrack.
While all of the trails offer great natural beauty, the Tumbling Waters Trail stands above the rest. This three-mile trail offers overlooks, a variety of natural habitats, and two beautiful waterfalls. The trail uses orange blazes and is fairly easy to follow through the woods.
Before leaving, pick up a trail guide from the PEEC. This brochure not only gives you a hiking map, but also offers 20 points of interest that are marked along the trail. These points offer interesting information about the flora and fauna of the area, as well as some of the ruins that you’ll encounter along the way.
The trail starts a few yards behind the PEEC building and runs with the Fossil Trail for a short distance (don’t follow the blue blazes).
The trail map doesn’t offer much information in regards to elevation changes, but it’s worth noting that the trail does have a few hills. However, if you are capable of hiking a three-mile trail, these hills shouldn’t provide much difficulty.
After hiking for about 5-10 minutes, you’ll cross Brisco Mountain Road. Should you be looking for the absolute shortest distance to the waterfall, there is room here for a few cars, and it’s a roughly one-mile hike to the waterfall from here.
The Tumbling Waters Trail winds its way through the forest, reaching the ridgeline roughly a mile after the trail begins. On the site, there is a stone chimney, which is the only remaining piece of a home that once stood on the spot. While the trees are overgrown, there is still is a great view from this vantage point.
The trail continues for another half a mile before reaching the switchbacks down to the waterfalls. This is the most difficult portion of the trail, though there is a railing along most of the path to steady yourself or to give yourself a boost on the way up.
The waterfalls here flow along a creek that, as best as I can tell, has no name (Should you know otherwise, please let me know). The waterfalls also lack an official name other than Tumbling Waters.
There are two drops here, with a small pool in the middle.
The top waterfall is the larger of the two at roughly 20 feet in height. When water levels are higher, there can even appear to be two separate falls here, though it all comes from the same creek.
The bottom waterfall is approximately 10 feet tall and is located at nearly a 90-degree angle to the top falls.
There is ample area here to view the waterfall or to enjoy a peaceful picnic. Those that are adventurous will note that there is a nice size waterfall just downstream, and I’ve heard that there may be a few more smaller ones upstream.
The lack of trails prevented me from scouting the area further on this trip, but you can get a nice view from atop the downstream falls without too much trouble. If exploring further, make sure to use extreme caution, as the rocks here were a bit slippery.
After enjoying the waterfall, make your way back to the top of the switchbacks to continue along the Falling Waters Trail. Shortly after the waterfall, the forest makes a noticeable switch, going from mostly hemlocks to more of a mixed forest with many birch and pine trees.
Eventually, pine trees take over even more. This area was planted with pine trees in the mid-20th century, and you’ll likely notice the straight lines that the trees were planted in.
The last bit of the trail passes a lake and through several different wetlands. This varied terrain changes the vegetation again, offering new things to look at during the hike. After walking along a short boardwalk, the trail deposits you out directly across the street from the PEEC.
In my opinion, the Tumbling Waters Trail at the Pocono Environmental Education Center is one of the most interesting trails in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
While it might lack the sweeping views along the Cliff Park Trails, the unique features of Hornbecks Creek or the many waterfalls of George W. Childs Park, it offers varied terrain, changing forests, a beautiful set of waterfalls, and a more peaceful atmosphere than many other locations in the area.
So, if you’re looking for a great hike in Pike County, PA, and want to avoid the crowds or want to try somewhere new, you can’t go wrong with the PEEC’s Tumbling Waters Trail.
Hiking at the Pocono Environmental Education Center
The hiking trails at the Pocono Environmental Education Center are free to the public. The PEEC can be found at the following address: 538 Emery Road, Dingmans Ferry, PA 18328.
There is a large parking lot and all of their trails leave from near this point. Make sure to pick up a trail guide from either inside or outside the center for each trail you plan to do.