Sunday, September 14, 2014

Delaware State Forest, PA - Stairway Lake Wild Area

Delaware State Forest - PA DCNR
Stairway Wild Area
This 2,882 acre wild area is truly unique for its historic significance as a blue stone quarry during the 1840’s, for its wetlands, remoteness and wild natural beauty. Featuring Stairway Lake and the nearby vista over looking the Delaware River makes this wild area a remote, quiet get away for shared use recreationists. Stairway Wild Area buffers Buckhorn Natural Area to the northeast.
GPS Coordinates 41.40015, -74.78025

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Be careful on the drive in.  It's like driving through Wild Kingdom with turkey and deer crossing every which way!

State Game Land 209 and Stairway Lake Wild Area -
Note that I attempted to find and hike the western part Track Cut Trail to make a loop back to the part that ascends to Stairway Lake but failed.  Even though this trail is shown on the map, it appears to have long reverted back to nature.  Where we did find a woods road, it would soon fizzle out.  Maybe it is easier to find in the winter or approaching a different way if it is still there at all.
Delaware State Forest, PA - Stairway Lake Wild Area at EveryTrail

Without trying to find the Track Cut Trail - 6.5 miles
With walking the train track then bushwhacking in search of the Track Cut Trail - 9 miles

The Boundary Trail starts to the right of the information board in the parking lot.  All trails are blazed blue if they are blazed.
Logs are placed across wet areas but most were dry today.
After this well-marked turn, blazes are a little hard to find but turn right and continue to cross over Bush Kill.
It had rained the night before and the log crossing to the left was slimy and slippery so we rock hopped.
Bush Kill
At the T-intersection with a woods road .8 miles into the hike, turn left to Stairway Lake or right to the Delaware River.
We turned right to the river first.
Woods road named Slatestone Road on the map, also blazed blue.
After a short distance turn left on a grassy woods road, also blazed blue.   This would be the hikable portion of the Track Cut Trail descending to the Delaware River
Part of an old truck in the woods.
A little farther along at a fork where we keep right the front part of the truck with somebody's boots?
The woods road occasionally becomes a little overgrown but it isn't bad.
Descending along the ravine on the left.
At the bottom cross straight over the tracks then veer right a short distance to the continuation of the trail leading to the river, also blazed blue.
Be very, very careful on rock slabs along the river - like stepping on a sheet of ice.  I took a nice spill before getting up to take this picture.  Thank goodness the camera was OK!
Shawnee wondering what I was doing sprawled out on the rock slab.
We found a nice shady, pine needle covered break spot overlooking the river,
These camping areas are available by permit only and you can only get there by water. 
This sign was hanging upside down so I flipped the picture for those who are interested in the info.
Our search for the rest of the Track Cut Trail to loop around back to the top took us along the railroad track.
Since we never saw the trail cross the tracks per the map, and already way beyond that point, we bushwhacked up hoping to run into the trail.
This was the biggest spider I have ever seen.  He was the size of a golf ball.  Even Shawnee came to a dead stop and went around his HUGE web!
Shawnee found an old woods road, which had to be the trail, but it eventually fizzled out and we could no longer bushwhack further so we had to return to the railroad track and retrace back to where we came down.
Walking on the railroad ties this time because that gravel is too dang uncomfortable to walk on for both of us.  Thankfully no trains went by but I was on full alert, just in case.
Going back up the way we came down.
Heard water in the gorge and zoomed in to this little trickle, which is probably Stairway Falls which is supposed to be here.  Just too dry this time of year.
Back at that sign, left would be the Boundary Trail back to the car but we continued straight to Stairway Lake.
Slatestone Road to Stairway Lake
Love these little guys!  This one is quite chubby.
Stairway Lake
A beaver lodge on the far side of the lake.
An old dock.
Coming up on the overlook ...
... into New York and where we were earlier down at the Delaware River.
Time for another break.
Heading back on Slatestone Road ...
... to the Boundary Trail.
The logs were dry and surprisingly Shawnee sailed right over them.  Me, well, that took a lot longer.

[  0.00]  Take the blue-blazed Boundary Trail to the right of the information board in the parking lot
[  0.50]  Well-marked right turn; cross Bush Kill
[  0.80]  Right at T-intersection on woods road
[  0.90]  Turn left on grassy woods road
[  1.20]  Turn right at double blaze with part of old car at intersection
[  1.90]  Keep left at fork
[  2.10]  Keep straight when a trail comes in from the right; cross over trail tracks and veer right to continue on blue-blazed trail to river
[  2.20]  When the trail switchbacks to the left, keep straight to views then retrace
[  2.30]  Back at switchback, continue straight
[  2.60]  Turn left at train tracks
[  4.00]  At T-intersection turn right on woods road
[  4.10]  Keep straight when Boundary Trail goes left
[  4.70]  Stairway Lake; continue beyond lake veering right to views
[  4.80]  Views; retrace (plus some exploring at lake before retracing)
[  5.70]  Turn right on Buckhorn Trail at sign
[  6.50]  Back at parking


  1. What a grand walkie! Such beauty!

    Nuk & Isis

  2. Replies
    1. If I don't do it right away and the hikes were to start backing up the posts would never get done.


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  4. Beautiful photos! It looks like a great place to hike. Shawnee is the perfect model. Thanks for sharing.

  5. You keep mentioning Track Cut Trail, which I 've never heard of but am wondering, the parking lot that you started out from is at the Lost Cabin Trail trailhead, isn't it?

    1. It's been 3 1/2 years and hundreds more hikes since I did this one so I really don't recall but if you look at the trail map link you will see the Track Cut Trail and it appears based on the directions I wrote, that I parked at the Boundary Trail.