Monday, December 12, 2011

Hickory Run State Park, PA - Shades of Death to Lehigh Gorge Overlook (Southern Section)

Hickory Run State Park - Pennsylvania DCNR
The History of Hickory Run - Pennsylvania DCNR (see "Boom Time" for history of this section)

Parking at Park Office:  GPS Coordinates 41.024565, -75.709790

View Larger Map

Hickory Run State Park Trail Map - Pennsylvania DCNR
Hickory Run State Park Campground Map - needed to navigate through campground on Beach Trail

HIKE DISTANCE:  10.5 miles

The Shades of Death Trail begins from the parking lot opposite the park office and follows along scenic Hickory Run.
A dam along Hickory Run.
Steam was rising from the cascades and freezing on the tree branches above since the temperature was in the teens and the water was still warmer than the air temperature.
Scenic Hickory Run
The Shades of Death Trail is blazed in yellow but in this park blazes are not used to distinguish trails, rather to distinguish uses.  Yellow is for hikers only and blue is for cross country skiing.  Orange is for snowmobiles but there are no orange trails in this section.  Signs at intersections identify trails by names.
Use the campground map to navigate the Beach Trail which is not blazed at all but references camp site numbers.
A rock hop on the Sand Spring Trail.
A blue blaze indicating this trail may be used for cross country skiing.
Sometimes the blue blazes are plastic diamonds.
The Pine Hill Trail starts out as a blue-blazed woods road...
... then becomes a hiker only yellow-blazed foot path.
The Pine Hill Trail ends at the Fireline Trail at the gazebo and railroad tracks; turn right here to continue on the FIreline Trail.  But almost immediately turn right on the Sand Spring Trail because...
... to continue on the Fireline Trail you would need to cross Hickory Run.  The water is deep, cold, and there simply is no way to safely cross over.  The log to the left does not reach the bank and was covered with snow and ice.
The Sand Spring Trail parallels Hickory Run and lets you cross over on a footbridge.
After crossing the bridge take the Skyline Trail which switchbacks up the side of the mountain.
At the top of the mountain along the Skyline Trail, a HUGE ancient pine tree with a diameter the length of my trekking pole, a good 36+ inches.  How did it survive the logging of the 1800's?
Part 2 of the tree since it won't all fit in one picture.
Glimpses of the Lehigh Gorge from the Skyline Trail
At the very tip of the park where the trail sharply turns in the opposite direction, a nice open field with a view of the Lehigh River.
Loop around the Skyline Trail back down the switchback to the Hickory Run Trail following next to Hickory Run.
As a short side trip continue a short distance beyond the park office on Route 534 towards a stone wall on the left.  Turn into the woods before the stone wall and climb to the top of the hill to a tranquil and peaceful cemetery with graves of the victims of the October 30, 1849 flood.

[  0.00]  Take the Shades of Death Trail over the bridge from parking lot
[  0.35]  Stametz Dam
[  0.75]  Trail veers right over small creek where it looks like it might continue straight
[  0.80]  Trail veers left up wood beam steps up to clearing, continue right then left at fork
[  0.90]  C.C.C. Dam
[  1.15]  Hop guardrail at Route 534, turn right and cross bridge, turn right on Beach Trail just after bridge (no sign)
[  1.35]  Turn right at camp site 152
[  1.45]  Turn right at camp site 158 and proceed between to posts on trail
[  1.50]  Turn right between camp sites 52 and 53 with playground on right
[  1.55]  Turn right at camp site 60
[  1.65]  Turn left at camp site 16 and cross paved road on to Sand Spring Trail (sign at beginning of trail)
[  1.70]  Rock hop over creek
[  1.80]  Left at fork
[  1.90]  Left on Blue Trail
[  2.35]  Long wet section on trail
[  2.80]  Turn right on Pine Hill Trail
[  3.40]  Pine Hill Trail turns right when umarked woods road goes left (not on map)
[  3.80]  Pine Hill Trail turns right uphill along no trespassing area
[  3.90]  Just over rise Pine Hill Trail leaves woods road as hiking only foot path
[  4.20]  Trail crosses over small boulder field
[  4.35]  Rock hop over small creek
[  5.00]  Right on Fireline trail at railroad tracks towards gazebo; right on Sand Spring Trail
[  5.60]  Turn left on Hickory Run Trail when Sand Spring Trail continues straight
[  5.65]  Cross bridge over Hickory Run and turn right
[  5.75]  Turn left on Skyline Trail and switchback up
[  6.45]  Rock hop over Gould's Run and take left fork of Skyline Trail (returning via right fork)
[  6.60]  Cross over Gould Trail staying on Skyline Trail
[  6.85]  Huge pine tree
[  7.10]  Rock hop over wet area and small creek
[  7.15]  Turn right briefly on Fireline Trail then continue left on Skyline Trail
[  7.50]  Left on Skyline Trail as it joins with Fireline Trail as woods road
[  7.65]  View of Lehigh Gorge; continue on trail around bend to the right
[  7.80]  Turn right on Skyline Trail as Fireline Trail continues straight
[  8.40]  Skyline Trail crosses over unmarked trail (not on map)
[  8.55]  Rock hop through we area
[  8.85]  Cross over Gould Trail
[  8.90]  Rock hop over Gould's run to left to retrace first part of Skyline Trail
[  9.35]  Skyline Trail switchbacks down
[  9.65]  At bottom of Skyline Trail, turn left on Hickory Run Trail (no sign)
[10.20]  Turn right on Route 534
[10.50]  Parking lot at park office


  1. Great photos and hike, I love HRSP!

  2. You are really making our hikes this Christmas break memorable! Thank you. We did French Creek State Park on Christmas Day, Jacobsburg on the 27 Dec and this one at Hickory on the 28 Dec. Our dog is resting after a long fun day hiking. Love the views of the gorge.

    1. My goodness, you all went marathon hiking for the holidays! Excellent! And what a lucky dog. Thanks for sharing.


    2. Anon of Christmas 2013 - Thanks to your great blog, I finally managed to sort us out a trip to take in some of the hikes in Harriman State Park and Sterling Forest State Park. a couple of weekends ago. I remember asking you for some pet friendly suggestions..we found a private rental in Lake Greenwood that was pet friendly which made for a fantastic long weekend of hikes in the area + relaxing by the lake on the patio in the evenings..our dog loved it... I am indebted to you and your blog for giving us the inspiration to try out new places. Harriman State Park is delightful. Thank you!

    3. Fantastic! And thank you for your nice comments!