Did you know the 3 tallest accessible waterfalls in Pennsylvania are relatively all close to each other and possible to visit in one day? If not, now you do! Of course being a fan of waterfalls, I had to see these for myself.
All three are located in or near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The tallest at 178 feet is Raymondskill Falls. Next is Dingmans Falls at 130 feet. Bushkill Falls comes in 3rd at 100 feet and is one privately owned land, so their is an admission cost to see this one. More to come on that later. Below is the order we visited them in one day. Please note we visited in the summer; these may be closed in the winter months when I am posting this.
First we drove to Bushkill Falls. It is about a 3 hour drive from State College area, so we didn't get there until after lunch, as we had to drop our dogs off at the kennel before leaving town. The park hours can vary based on day and time of year. Please visit their website for more information on hours as well as cost. As mentioned this one is on private land as it was owned long before NPS was established. We paid a $20 per person entry fee. I will say I do think the cost is well worth it. Your entry fee helps maintain the property, which viewing the falls would not be possible without the manmade boardwalk structures they have. Plus the property offers so much more than just one single waterfall to admire.
Even though Bushkill Falls is the primary attraction there are wonderful hiking trails on the grounds you can enjoy, as well as 7 other waterfalls besides Bushkill to view. Below is a trail map taken from there site.
Looking at this map, we started at the top of Bushkill Falls and went right along the red trail through the upper cannon and then up over where it says Laurel Glen. We didn't do the extension where Pennel Falls due toa threat of a storm coming in that afternoon. I also wanted to stop at the Delaware Alley Lookout. From there we continued north and made the left at Peters Corners so we could descent the Bridal Veil Falls Trail. Though I enjoyed the hike very much, I think if we did it again I may consider going the opposite direction. Only because as we descended the bridal veil falls trail, the water was on our left. We walked the direction the water flowed. We stopped every so often to turn and watch the water tumble over rocks, but going against the current may have been a little more scenic. However, we were walking downhill mostly and that part was nice.
There are a few waterfalls on this far side that were worth doing this part of the trail. Two of them are named Bridesmaids falls, and one is named Bridal Veil Falls. I am not sure why two have the same name. Maybe its because the Bridal Veil is in the middle of the two and it symbolizes the two maids supporting their bride, but that is the story I made up. Either way the trail was beautiful. Some pictures of these wedding themed waterfalls below.
As we crossed pond run creek and and started to make our way back to the bottom of the mains falls, the path becomes more manmade. There are boardwalk type wooden paths, and I will warn you a quite a few steps. I was actually surprised by the amount of stairs and my calves were feeling it the next day, so consider a stretch before and after your hike.
The view of Bushkill when we hit it though was well worth the stairs workout!
There are other things to do on the property outside the main entrance that don't require the entry fee. There is a picnic area, a snack shop, an ice cream and fudge parlor, and gift shop. If you had family who doesn't want to hike the trail, they have an area to relax and hang out. As far as time to allow here I would say 3 hours at least if you can. We rushed through the trail in a little over 2 hours, but only because of the thunderstorms in the area. Luckily we only felt a few drops and it never dumped rain on us but we heard thunder in the distance a few times. It did make the area humid and muggy. Make sure to take water with you on the trail, as well as some bug spray.
While you could make an entire day at Bushkill we had a mission of seeing all three. Net we headed to Dingman Falls; and the drive took about 25 minutes. There is a visitor center and parking lot very close to the trail head. The link above takes you to their website and you can see the trail. Its an easy accessible flat trail that is not even half a mile long. Along the way you even see a bonus waterfall called Silver Thread Falls that is pictured below.
Dingman Falls is really quite beautiful in the way it cascades and angles down the rocks. At t the end of the flat trail is the main viewing area. There is a second trail you can hike up a short but somewhat steep incline to view the falls from the top. If you are not into hiking or have accessibility issues, you can skip this part. The top doesn't offer a good view of the falls, more the pools that go into the falls.
From there we headed back to our car and drove about 15 minutes to Raymondskill Falls. Please note there is a small parking lot at the top of the trailhead, but it is closed on weekends from 10-4 and on holidays. During those times you have to take a free shuttle, which you can read about here. We did go on a Saturday but it was around 6:00pm when we arrived, and we were able to snag a spot in the trailhead parking lot.
From the parking lot we started down the trail on the right. You will go a short distance downhill to view the top of this three tiered waterfall. From there you will turn around and go back and take another trail on the right hand side downhill to get to the next viewing area. Be warned this part is a little steep, and rocky. I remember some parts were wet and I was glad I had waterproof hiking shoes on that day. From there you get a view of the top 2 tiers of the falls, which is below.
The third tier of the falls is to your left from this second tier viewing area. The trail from there does not lead to a place to view it from the bottom. I read their may be some unofficial trail to get closer to the bottom but didn't search for it while there. The area had water recently, and parts were fenced off for safety. I would say if you are going to try and find this unofficial trail to do so cautiously. From what I could see there was a nice size drop off, so its probably narrow. Not sure it would be an easy rescue if you slipped and fell.
After we finished viewing the second viewing area we followed the trail back to the parking lot, it sort of makes a circle. We noticed on the map some other trails across the street and considered a half a mile hike to an overlook on the cliff trail. We skipped those though as it was getting later in the day. We wanted to get some dinner and get checked into our hotel.
On a final note, we chose to stay in the nearby town of Milford. An adorable town with some good dining options. I would consider this town if you want to make an overnight trip out of it like we did.
Published: 1/11/24 and all pictures taken by me.