Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hickory Run State Park, PA - Hawk Falls and Boulder Field

Hickory Run State Park - Pennsylvania DCNR
Boulder Field Brochure - Pennsylvania DCNR

GPS Coordinates 41.006298, -75.624568

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Parking at the end of an unpaved access road at the Orchard Trail trail head.

Hickory Run State Park Trail Map - Pennsylvania DCNR

HIKE DISTANCE:  11.4 miles

Facing the Orchard Trail sign in the parking lot, turn left to start.  The return route will come in from the other end.
In a short distance, go beyond the gate.
In this park the blazes do not distinguish trails rather they indicate trail usage.  Yellow is for hiking only.  Trail names are on signs at intersections.
Coming up on the first intersection, leave the woods road to the right on a footpath heading to Hawk Falls, but still on the Orchard Trail.
The trail goes through some very pretty green areas.
Some glimpses of Mud Run to the left.
Eventually the trail leads to the banks of scenic Mud Run.
Mud Run looking west.
Mud Run to the east.
The trail switchbacks up out of the gorge.  At the top continue left along the ridge towards Hawk Falls when the Orchard Trail continues to loop to the right (return route).
The Orchard Trail descends where it ends at an intersection where a left turn again leads to Mud Run. 
Facing Mud Run turn right and follow Mud Run (that is I-476 on the bridge up int he fog) for a short out-and-back to...
... the bottom of Hawk Falls.  Retrace from here back to the intersection with the Orchard Trail then turn left to get to...
... the top of Hawk Falls.
Flowers at the top of the falls - makes you think someone got a little too close to the edge?
Hawk Run flows down into Mud Run
Crossing the bridge over Hawk Run.
Turn right on Route 534 towards alternate parking areas at 41.010808, -75.634509.  These lots can be used to hike Hawk Falls and Boulder Field separately.
Turn left into the parking lot then up the stairs on the Boulder Field Trail.
The Boulder Field Trail starts off by crossing through an old orchard...
... before becoming rocky.
I did a quick ring count on this Hurricane Sandy casualty and there appeared to be about 100 rings.
A Downy Woodpecker
The Boulder Field Trail, again blazed yellow to denote it is a hiking only trail, goes through some beautiful evergreen forests.
Approaching the Boulder Field.
Not a huge fan of bouldering.
She was looking for an alternate route since we needed to cross over to the parking lot way on the other side.
No alternate route so no choice but to cross.  Didn't stop her from looking over towards the edge.
Looking down the length of the Boulder Field, about 1200 feet long.
At the other side of the Boulder Field.
You can retrace from the Boulder Field but instead of repeating over 3 miles of rocky trail, we opted to take the easier but longer way back through the parking lot to meet up with the Boulder Field Trail where we would only have about 1 mile of rocky trail to hike.
Walking along the smooth access road which probably has a lot of traffic in the summer but on this foggy and dreary day there were no cars, just sludge from melting snow.
At the intersection turn left.  This access road leads over an old bridge over Hickory Run.
It's a long and winding road that leads to...
... the Stage Trail, once the stagecoach road from Bethlehem to Wilkes-Barre, on the left (no sign at this intersection stating it is the Stage Trail.)
Orange diamonds all along the access roads and the Stage Trail indicate they can be used for snowmobiles.  This orange diamond is being consumed by the tree.
The result of melting snow on the access road. 
Back on the Boulder Field Trail, a small creek crossing provided a clean-up opportunity.
Retracing across the old orchard to the parking lot back to the Hawk Falls Trail.
Retracing along a pretty ledge in the Hawk Falls area.
Lots of roots on the Orchard Trail.
Arriving back at the car via the other end of the Orchard Trail.
Still foggy on the drive home.

[  0.00]  Facing the Orchard Trail sign, turn left and proceed on the woods road
[  0.05]  Continue beyond gate
[  0.45]  Turn right on footpath leaving woods road at sign pointing to the right for Hawk Falls
[  0.55]  Trail parallels along Mud Run on the left
[  0.90]  Trail switchbacks up out of the gorge
[  1.00]  Turn left at top of ascent when the Orchard Trail also goes right
[  1.30]  Trail descends back down into gorge
[  1.40]  Turn left at T-intersection towards Mud Run then turn right for out-and-back to Hawk Falls
[  1.55]  Bottom of Hawk Falls; retrace to where trail descended to T-intersection
[  1.70]  Back at the intersection where the Orchard Trail descended, turn left
[  1.85]  Turn left at Y-intersection to top of Hark Falls; retrace and continue left
[  1.95]  Cross bridge over Hawk Run
[  2.15]  Cross paved road, turn right and walk towards parking lots, turn left into parking lot on left
[  2.20]  Ascend steps to the right of the kiosk at the Boulder Field Trail sign
[  2.95]  Rock hop over creek
[  3.70]  Continue straight on Boulder Field Trail crossing over Stage Trail
[  5.35]  Cross Boulder Field
[  5.45]  From kiosk, continue straight through Boulder Field parking lot on the service road
[  5.55]  Keep left on service road when Stone Trail goes right
[  6.30]  Turn left at 4-way intersection at stop sign
[  7.50]  Veer left on Stage Trail when service road continues right (no sign)
[  7.55]  Continue left through gate
[  8.75]  Turn right on Boulder Field Trail
[  9.45]  Rock hop over creek
[10.25]  Pass through old orchard, down steps through parking lot, turn right on road
[10.30]  Turn left on Hawk Falls Trail
[10.50]  Cross bridge over Hawk Run
[10.60]  Keep left when right goes to top of Hawk Falls
[10.75]  Turn left on Orchard Trail before reaching Mud Run
[11.20]  Turn left on the Orchard Loop Trail where right goes down into gorge
[11.40]  Back at parking lot


  1. What beautiful country and great photos. I'd have had to skip the boulder field, though. It looks too much like the place I fell a couple of months ago and I've been gun shy ever since.

    1. Bill,
      Ouch. I bet that was painful. I did OK going through the boulder field (VERY carefully) then on the service road I stepped on the one rock on the smooth surface and twisted my ankle. Go figure.

  2. Hiked here last fall. Parked at that alternate parking area and went down to falls first (which s where we encountered three young bears sauntering across the trail to the falls). Then we went up to do the Boulder Field trail from that lot. Returned on (I think) red(?) trail that skirted the northernmost border of the hiking area. What an experience. Don't know how you managed that slick, foggy day on those boulders! Plus w/no one else visibly around? You're a braver woman than I. Hope the ankle is better. I hear another hike is a good cure for that. :)

    1. I was wondering exactly where you saw those three bears as I was doing that hike. It was on my mind the entire time but I never saw any. The boulders were clear and dry, thank goodness. The whole area had been covered by snow two days before so I am glad that was mostly gone. I do find that when I twist my ankle, if I keep moving through the pain, it eventually stops hurting and that's that end of it. It's like once you stop and stiffen up, there is no working it out so I always keep going (and gritting my teeth, LOL).

  3. I was wondering how deep is the top of the hawk fallls ??

  4. I was hoping someone could tell me what to throw in my GPS to get easy access to both the Falls and Boulder field? Want to bring our grandson, but dont know if he can handle too much of the hiking just yet.Thanks!

  5. Both spots can be accessed off of rt 534 there is a road that leads to the boulder field and is a very short walk. There is also aparking lot off of rt534 that is only about .6 miles to the falls

  6. ...really nice the way you laid this out. thanks.
    Happy hiking.

  7. Any chance you tracked this with a Garmin watch so I can upload the file to my watch?

    1. No, sorry. Looks like I did this hike just before I started using the Garmin.