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hiking to glen onoko falls

spring in the northeast is unpredictable, and when I moved home in february, I was taking the risk that I’d be facing another 1-2 months of potential snow storms.  

At the end of the cold and dark and bleak Pennsylvania winter, Amy, her pal Ryan, and I jumped at the chance to get outside on a clear and sunny March day. We drove about 1.5 hours north of Philly to hike in the woods near the picturesque mountain town of Jim Thorpe, PA.

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Dead ass trees on the little Pennsylvania mountains in March

We arrived in Jim Thorpe in the late morning, and headed down to the trailhead. Before setting out on the hike, we’d heard warnings from several people – in person and on the Internet – about how dangerous this trail was. More than a dozen people had died while hiking here since the 1970s (almost all of those people were ignoring the signs that cautioned to stay on the trail or were hiking too close to the edge of the waterfalls), and plenty more were seriously injured. As we approached the trail, we saw warning signs such as these:

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Uhhhhhhhh, DRAMATIC? But we’re young and naive, so on we went. The trail was steep, rocky and a little slippery due to melting snow, but we lived to tell the tale. It was fine and wonderful and no one died.

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The first waterfall (squint for the second one off in the distance!)

The Glen Onoko Falls are technically three waterfalls along the trail, with each bigger, more beautiful, more intense, and more impressive than the last.

The trail is a moderately hard hike, with a pretty vertical climb the entire way. It’s basically like climbing a ton of rocky stairs, and at some points we had to do a bit of actual rock climbing, too – but nothing a regular joe in decent physical shape couldn’t handle. The trail was relatively dry for being late winter/early spring, but there were zillions of icicles that were 1) definitely on the verge of melting and turning the trail into a slippy sloppy mud bath, and 2) fun to suck on. #hydration

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Ryan by the bottom of the second waterfall

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“Hey, guys, did ya, uh, did ya check this waterfall back here? Just making sure you saw it, uh, yeah, it’s uh, it’s good stuff” -Amy

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On the way down. Ryan in his snow pants. It wasn’t snowing. Or cold.

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After the hike to the top and the subsequent climb back to the bottom along the second half of the loop, we walked over to downtown Jim Thorpe for lunch.

Growing up, our parents took us to Jim Thorpe to see the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, go swimming and kayaking at Mauch Chunk Lake, and wander around the town. It’s a cool place that’s easy to get to from Philly, and I know it’s a haven for people who want to escape into nature for biking, camping and rafting, too.

We had lunch at a little place called Bear Appetit Cafe, and it was, ya know, fine. Ryan got a roast beef sandwich that looked amazing. Amy and I got salads, and I salivated over Ryan’s sandwich from the seat over.

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Hey pals!

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Have you ever been to Jim Thorpe, PA? 

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10 Comments

  • Reply Vonnie

    I haven’t been yet! Looking to head to Maine for some lobster then return! That Philly steak and sweet potatoes has me drooling!

    May 11, 2016 at 11:01 pm
    • Reply Kristen

      It was a great hike – don’t miss it!

      May 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm
      • Reply Vonnie

        Good to know. I’ll put it on my list of road-trip through America!

        May 12, 2016 at 12:49 pm
        • Reply Kristen

          Sounds like a great trip 🙂

          May 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Ines

    Looks like an amazing hike! And indeed the signs seem a bit dramatic, but I guess it’s better than not having any warning there. At least you know you need to be careful. 🙂 I love hiking, here in Switzerland we have so many trails – it’s great! The weirdest sign have seen here was a warning not to pick up bullets from the ground… we then realized we were hiking in an area were the military did training.

    May 12, 2016 at 5:29 am
    • Reply Kristen

      That is so interesting… you’d think most people would know not to pick up bullets 😉 Switzerland sounds beautiful!

      May 12, 2016 at 12:31 pm
  • Reply lameyland

    LOVE GLEN ONOKO AND JIM THORPE! what a fun day.

    May 12, 2016 at 12:41 pm
  • Reply Hannah Myer

    As if I needed more reasons to be excited about moving back to PA. YAY PA HIKING

    May 13, 2016 at 9:48 am
    • Reply Kristen

      girl PA has been desperately waiting for your return!!!!

      May 13, 2016 at 10:41 am

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