Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shohola Falls, PA in State Game Lands 180

Shohola Recreation Area - Discover Pike PA

GPS Coordinates 41.390598, -74.969041

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Although there are many parking lots, this one was open on a Sunday in winter when others were gated.  Trails for the falls are accessed directly from this parking lot.

I found it helpful to have both of these maps as they differ slightly.  Trails are not marked or maintained. Expect to have to maneuver through some blow downs. Even though maps show trail names, no signs exist with these names.  The trails along the falls are not shown on the maps and several paths branch off.  It is pretty obvious where to go once there and hard to get lost since the lake is always nearby and makes a great reference point. 
State Game Lands 180 - Pike County, PA
State Game Lands 180 - Pennsylvania Game Commission

Shohola Falls - Overlook Tower - Chucks Trail and Horseshoe Trail: 8 miles
Shohola Falls - Overlook Tower:  about 4 miles
Shohola Falls only:  about 1.5 miles

For orientation purposes:
Heading west, turn left before the Route 6 bridge towards Shohola Falls Inn (A) to paved the parking lot; Come out from the falls/gorge trail in the small gravel lot (b); Cross to the other side of Shohola Creek via the Route 6 bridge (c)
From the parking lot, facing the dam, take the trail at the right corner of the lot where my dog is to get to the lower falls.
Descend on a series of wooden steps.
Shohola Falls after descending steps.
Retrace from this point back to the parking lot.  (From what I read, the icy section is slippery even when there is no ice but the trail does not continue on the other side so you have to go back to get to the upper level.
Back at the parking lot, walk a few steps along the left side (with your back to the dam) and look for paths going into the woods that will run parallel to Shohola Creek up above the gorge.
A view of the lower level steps from the upper level trail.
The trail will follow on a ledge with a steep drop down into the gorge through a beautiful hemlock forest.
Come out into a small gravel parking area, walk around the guardrail and turn left to cross over Shohola Creek on the Route 6 bridge.
A view of the gorge from the Route 6 bridge.
Keep walking along Route 6 a short distance to the end of the guardrail and turn left.  You might see faint paths in this area but if not, it's a short distance before coming out on a wide grassy clearing with an overlook to the left.  On your way to the overlook, note where to access the trail for the other side of the falls on your way:
The overlook is at the split rail fencing to the far left, my dog is sitting at the entrance of the trail which is about half way between the overlook and the utility pole.  It is obstructed by a blow down.  I broke away as many branches as I could to make it a little more obvious.
The trail will follow a fence along the other side of the gorge heading upstream back towards the falls and dam.
Another series of steps lead to a stone walled overlook at the other side of the falls.

Beyond the dam trails, the service road and woods roads lead to an observation deck.
View from the observation deck.
Entrance to Chucks Trail (not marked) from the gravel service road.
The named paths on the maps which are not signed by name in the game lands, are grassy woods road, sometimes very swampy.
A nice view of Shohola Lake and the countryside descending on the Horseshoe Trail.
Shohola Lake
Return to the parking lot by crossing the bridge on Route 6, turning right into the gravel parking lot, then accessing the trail at the left side of the fence.
Follow the trail along the upper rim of the gorge through the hemlock forest.
Shohola Falls from the upper trail.

[  0.00]  Take the trail from the right corner of the parking lot facing the dam; descend step to bottom of falls, at end of trail retrace back to parking lot.  Take path into woods from parking lot to left and follow upper trail along ridge above gorge through hemlock forest
[  0.35]  Trail ends at gravel parking lot, turn right to end of guardrail, turn left on Route 6 and cross over bridge continuing to end of guardrail
[  0.50]  Turn left at end of guardrail and continue briefly through woods to clearing then veer left to overlook at fence; retrace a few steps and turn left on path before utility pole
[  0.60]  Keep to the right along fence and down steps to falls overlook
[  0.75]  Falls overlook; retrace a few steps then go up steps to the left continuing towards dam; at dam veer right across open area on mowed path
[  1.00]  At paved parking lot, turn left and walk along pavement
[  1.10]  Turn left at picnic and trail sign opposite parking lot entrance on right; at clearing turn right on path into woods at "boating" sign
[  1.30]  Turn left at T-intersection (right goes back to paved road); at paved boat ramp, turn right, proceed a few steps then turn left on path into woods
[  1.50]  Left at fork
[  1.75]  Trail veers slightly away from lake, come out at clearing behind yellow game commission building, continue right on gravel road passing the yellow building, at the gravel service road, turn left
[  2.20]  Turn left at the woods road (Hill Trail on Game Commission map) - if you miss this, the next woods road has a "observation tower" sign and you can turn left there also
[  2.40]  Observation tower; descending tower steps, continue straight then turn left on the woods road; turn left at next woods road
[  2.65]  Continue through clearing to gravel service road; turn left on gravel road  (turn right if only hiking out to observation tower)
[  2.80]  Gravel parking lot on right and boat launch on left (shown on map); continue on gravel road through gates
[  3.20]  Gravel road crosses creek (shown on Pike County map, not game lands map)
[  3.45]  At top of hill as gravel road levels out, turn right on grassy woods road (Chucks Trail on both maps)
[  3.85]  Trail veers left and becomes somewhat more narrow
[  4.05]  Turn left at T-intersection (Horseshoe Trail) (shown as 4-way intersection on maps)
[  4.30]  At next T-intersection turn left; as trail descends view of Shohola Lake ahead
[  4.70]  Turn left on gravel service road
[  4.80]  Parking lot on right (shown on map)
[  4.85]  Pass Chucks Trail on left
[  5.10]  Gravel road crosses creek
[  5.70]  Continue through gates with gravel parking lot on left and boat launch on right
[  6.10]  Straight on gravel road at observation trail sign on right
[  6.70]  Continue as gravel road becomes paved at yellow building on right
[  6.95]  Turn right on paved road at Shohola Falls sign
[  7.00]  As pavement widens into parking lot watch on left for trail into woods; turn left and follow trail through picnic tables - trail branches off, keep along contour of lake
[  7.30]  Continue right around dam on mowed grass path towards falls trails
[  7.45]  Falls overlook; turn around and go up steps to right
[  7.60]  Go through clearing then through woods briefly towards guardrail and turn right on Route 6 and cross bridge; turn right at other end of guardrail then right again into gravel parking lot; take trail to left of wooden fence along hemlock gorge
[  8.00]  Back at parking lot


  1. Yet another interesting find. Speaking of "finds". Question I've always wanted to ask you. When you find many of these trails that are a bit more obscure like this one (and don't appear to be blazed at all), do you research them at all beforehand other than culling whatever info from the original source or do you just head out based on that singular info and kind of "learn as you go" so to speak?

    As one who can never ferret too much info on just about anything and sometimes can get bogged down in even too-much-information-overload, I applaud your adventurous spirit in heading out on virgin territory with limited info.

    I want to be you when I grow up. : ) (Mind you I've probably got at least 15 years or more on you already).

  2. One other follow up question: We're obviously not as experienced as you are and for the most part are nearly totally reliant upon some sort of blaze system to follow a trail. Since there appears to be no blazing on this hike and I'm sure many others you've taken, how do you manage to 'find your way' along and back? Even though some trails can be delineated by virtue of others having walked there and left a sort of visible trail, you know as well as I that some of those can lead to nowhere and to getting quite lost. So how do you manage in those circumstances of no blazes to follow?

  3. Linda, you crack me up! I most definitely research everything to death beforehand and my main rule is no map, no go. I need to feel pretty confident I have enough information about what I am getting myself into before doing it. I really don't like getting lost and I have the worst sense of direction, I kid you not! This hike in particular did not have a lot of info available. Something similar is in "Hiking the Poconos" Falcon Guide but it didn't make much sense, and still doesn't when I reread it after doing the hike - I blame that on no blazes. It's very hard to describe where to go when you can't say "turn left on red..." I don't mean that as a poor reflection on the author at all. You really can't get lost on the trails around the falls because no matter which way you go, you are close enough to the lake to find your way back. I rely heavily on Google Earth, too. I can often see things on Google Earth that can't be seen on maps. The one thing that totally baffled me with this hike was a woods road intersection that clearly shows as a 4-way intersection on BOTH maps so I was confused when I came to what I thought was that intersection only to find it to be a T-intersection. That made me question where I was. Now looking back at Google Earth I can see where it is indeed a T-intersection. For the missing spoke (straight ahead) you have to turn right a bit then left and that detail does not show on the maps - the maps show that woods road going straight ahead and that simply is not the case when you are standing there so it's very confusing when little things like that don't jive. It wasn't until I got back on the gravel service road that I knew for sure I had taken the trails I intended to. So I just try not to venture out very far when trails are not marked and I keep turns to a bare minimum so I can backtrack if need be. What made me braver about striking out into unmarked territory was having successfully followed JORBA's map through the unmarked trails of Allamuchy Mountain State Park. That was a lot of fun because it was a very good and accurate map. I marked off each section on the map as I hiked it so I always knew where I was. That's a good place to practice.


  4. I follow your hikes every week. I use NYNJTC conference maps normally to find places to hike, but you have found so many places I would never have known about to hike! I see you hike around 10 miles - and yet you travel all over. Do you stay in hotels regularly, or do you just leave really early? We are trying to get longer hikes in & try new places - but in the winter it is hard to go far withoug staying in motels due to the short days. We aren't particularly fast hikers...

    Lynn & Glen + 2 border collies

  5. Hi Lynn, Glen and border collies!
    I am not a fast hiker either, especially with stopping to take pictures of EVERYTHING! I leave at 6:30 am regardless of how far I am driving or what time of year. I like having no traffic that early in the morning. I try to keep the drive to not much more than 2 hours each way in the winter keeping in mind I have to be out of the woods well before dark. I have occasionally done hikes 4ish hours away in the summer when the days are longer and get home around midnight. I don't spend the night because I have other non-hiking dogs I need to get home for even though I do have someone let them out during the day. The only time I spend the night is when I go to Virginia for a week of hiking. I stay in state park cabins there - they are very nice and all of their cabins are pet friendly!


  6. I go to Shohola Falls often, and haven't know how to get to the other side where the rail is but always wanted to. I love hiking and now will have to go back and go on the other paths you mentioned! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to following your blog and learning of other places I can go to.
    I hope you don't mind but I stumbled upon this blog when I was looking for something to link Shohola Falls to in my photography blog and I put a link in to view yours. If you'd like to check out mine view it here:

    I've never gone when there was ice on the cliffs I will have to go back now, i'm always afraid of it being too slick in winter. The cliff where the ice is can be quite slippery when it's wet and if you're afraid of heights, falling or small paths it can be nerve racking, but the view is great, try to go when it hasn't rained in a while and the path there isn't so scary :)

    I love your photos thanks for sharing with us.

  7. you really need to go under the brigde and follow the game trails to the end of the gorge,its very nice back there