When I was young nearly EVERY vacation we went on had to involve a Scenic Railroad in order to happen. In other words, no train- we weren’t going there. I think the only reason we went to Disney (AKA “Ratland” by my train-loving dad) was because of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (This incident left me in tears and fearful of roller coasters until my senior year in high school when we HAD to ride roller coasters in order to complete physics experiments at Great Adventure’s Physics Day. My so-called friends convinced me to not only get on a roller coaster, but to get on the one that had a loop and went backwards. Now I’ll ride nearly any roller-coaster. I guess they were good friends after all.) As my dad feels about trains, I feel about waterfalls. Wherever my adventures take me I seek out the waterfalls nearby. Over the past couple of weekends I was lucky enough to be near quite a few falls, and the timing was perfect to see a great variety of wildflowers as well.
The only thing Heberly Run and Bushkill Falls have in common are waterfalls. The first you have to earn your stunning views by hiking, creek crossing and maybe even a little bit of careful bushwhacking, the second you can meander along boardwalks, endless steps and well-worn paths that take you to the best view of each falls.
Bushkill Falls “The Niagara of Pennsylvania” is a privately owned eco-tainment destination. The evidence of frequent visitors is everywhere. $12.50 a person earns you access to the well-kept and efficient system of trails designed for every type of visitor. There are a variety of loops in varying lengths and difficulty. All take you to the Main Falls, others will take you through the woods to view up to 8 waterfalls. Along the 2 mile loop “for hikers only” we saw great wildflowers, bits of litter everywhere you look and some breathtaking waterfalls.
As we first entered I noticed enormous White Pine trees and immediately looked to the ground for Pink Lady Slippers. Sure enough I found them. Funny enough, the only place we found them was close to the entrance, once we were along the trails, none were to be found. On this dreary Wednesday, not too many people were on the trails and quite often we felt as though we had the entire place to ourselves. I can imagine a sunny weekend would be much different.
Tranquil and Stunning
Heberly Run, located in PA State Gamelands 13, is the opposite of Bushkill Falls. Solitude abounds. No signs of people, no litter, no entrance fee. Just the rumble of the falls and traipsing carefully through the woods and through the creek. You will have to earn your photos here. A slow and steady hike will lead you to a number of beautiful views and places to just sit and enjoy the sounds of the creek toppling over worn rocks. We ended up here after attempting a Memorial Day Weekend hike at Ricketts Glen State Park only to find the parking lot full of cars, the trails full of people and dogs dressed up in outfits wading in the creek. We’ll save that hike for a dreary weekday. The Heberly Run hike was quiet. We did not see another person during the 4 hours we spent exploring. We did see bear scat – so be aware of your surroundings should you choose to visit.
Earlier that weekend I also made my way down the whitewater of the Lehigh River in an inflatable kayak. I guess you could consider each rapid a waterfall, and it was fun to be in them. I love the feeling of rushing through rapids in a little boat, but also find myself trying to identify the plants along the shoreline. I am frequently grateful for the flat water breaks, for many reasons including a chance to take in the scenery. The run we did this weekend ends at a takeout where the Indian Run runs into the Lehigh River. The water is so very cold coming out of that creek, just the breeze created by the rushing water will cool you down, stick your hand in the water and you’ll get goosebumps! The highlight of this trip were the Pinxterbloom Azaleas blooming along the rocky shoreline.