Hickory Run State Park Waterfalls You Need to Explore

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. This site also contains affiliate links to products besides Amazon and we may also receive a commission for purchases.

Hickory Run State Park is one of the more popular state parks in Pennsylvania, with nature enthusiasts, waterfall lovers, and casual visitors flocking to the park each year. Tucked away in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, this state park boasts several stunning waterfalls that are sure to leave you impressed. Whether you’re seeking a short, fun hike or a picturesque spot for photography, the Hickory Run State Park waterfalls offer a great opportunity to explore beautiful cascades.

From the cascading waters of Hawk Falls to the scenes of the stream along the Shades of Death trail, each waterfall at Hickory Run State Park has its own unique charm. With their picturesque settings, the waterfalls at Hickory Run State Park are a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a new spot to explore.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual nature lover, exploring the waterfalls at Hickory Run State Park is a pretty doable adventure. Travel at your own pace, enjoy the surroundings, and, above all else, be sure to Leave No Trace!

How Many Waterfalls are in Hickory Run State Park?

Hickory Run State Park offers visitors a breathtaking natural experience with its impressive waterfalls and picturesque trails. The park boasts a variety of waterfall trails, each with its own unique beauty and charm.

Visitors can explore the miles of trails and indulge in the serenity of cascading waters while enjoying the park’s scenic surroundings.

When it comes to waterfall trails, Hickory Run State Park does not disappoint. With several trails to choose from, visitors are spoiled with options. The exact number of waterfall trails in the park is not explicitly mentioned, but it is known to offer an array of options for outdoor enthusiasts.

Pennsylvania is full of state parks with waterfalls, and Hickory Run is home to a few of its own to explore.

Hawk Falls in Hickory Run State Park

Hickory Run State Park is home to several beautiful waterfalls and water features, but one that stands out is Hawk Falls. Exploring Hawk Falls is an adventure that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the park.

The hike is not long, but you’ll have to navigate some inclines and declines on the trail. We’d categorize it as easy to moderate.

Hawk Falls is a beautiful 25-foot tall waterfall in Hickory Run State Park.

Directions & Parking for Hawk Falls

Hawk Falls is the most popular and well-known of the waterfalls in Hickory Run State Park. It is a must-see attraction for outdoor enthusiasts.

To get to Hawk Falls, follow these directions:

If you are traveling on Interstate 80, take exit 284 for PA-115 towards Bear Creek/Blakeslee. Stay on PA-115 for approximately 2 miles then turn right onto PA-903 south. Follow 903 for 4 miles until you reach Route 534. Turn right onto Route 534 and continue for about 2.5 miles. You will see signs for Hawk Falls on your left.

If you are coming from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension, take exit 87 towards Jim Thorpe/Lake Harmony. Merge onto PA-903 and continue for approximately 2.4 miles. Turn left onto S Old Stage Road, and follow until you reach Route 534. Turn left onto Route 534 and follow for about 2 miles. Hawk Falls parking will be on your left.

During the summer and fall months, Hawk Falls, like many other attractions in the park, can become quite crowded. It’s advisable to arrive early if you want to secure a parking spot. During times of high visitation, park staff will be on-site in the parking areas to help direct traffic for better flow. 

You can stay close to Hickory Run State Park, which makes it easier to get to the trailheads earlier in the day. You can also make a quick stop at the end of the day before kicking off your hiking boots for the night.

The hike is quite short, but everyone spends a different amount of time exploring the waterfall. The turnover in the parking lot is pretty high, but you may need to have a backup plan and come back to visit Hawk Falls later.

They do close off the parking lot temporarily if it is full. We have been able to find parking even during the busiest weekend visitation times, but if you have the option to visit at an off time, such as during the middle of the week, early in the morning, or later in the evening, you’ll have a much better experience.

A brown wooden sign to the right of the frame reads Hawk Falls Trail, No Swimming, marking the start of the Hawk Falls Trail in Hickory Run State Park.
Trail maker sign you’ll be looking for along the road, where you’ll enter the forest on the way to Hawk Falls.

Getting to Hawk Falls

To begin the hike to Hawk Falls, you’ll have to walk a short distance from the parking lot along the guard rails of Route 534 to begin the trail.

It’s really a short walk, only about 150 feet from the edge of the parking lot to where the trail dips down into the woods on the left. Take caution, though, as this is a busy roadway. Pay attention to traffic and keep any little ones in your group close. 

A dirt trail leads through a dense green forest on the way to Hawk Falls in Hickory Run State Park.
The trail to Hawk Falls is a wide dirt path for most of the way.

Once you enter the trail, well marked by a wooden sign, you’ll travel down the hillside, following the trail with yellow blazes.

At the bottom of the hill, after you’ve descended, you’ll cross a small bridge over Hawk Run. The rest of the trail is fairly flat. 

Thick rhododendrons line the trails on the way to Hawk Falls as a hiker travels to the Hickory Run State Park waterfall.
You’ll travel through these rhododendron tunnels on the way to Hawk Falls.

After you reach a fork in the trail, you’ll take a right and follow along Mud Run for a short distance. The trail travels through a tunnel of rhododendrons and ends at Hawk Falls.

The entire hike to reach the falls is only around 0.6 miles. Please stay on the trail as you navigate near Hawk Run to Hawk Falls. Going off-trail damages the surrounding vegetation and increases erosion. The best views are at the bottom, looking up at Hawk Falls, anyway.

Once you reach the waterfall and explore the views, you’ll turn around and return the same way that you came.

Why You Shouldn’t Swim at Hawk Falls in Hickory Run

While taking a refreshing dip at Hawk Falls in Hickory Run State Park may be tempting, it is important to understand and respect the swimming restrictions in place. Swimming at Hawk Falls is not permitted and for good reason.

One of the main reasons swimming is prohibited at Hawk Falls is to protect the natural habitat and wildlife in the area. The constant presence of swimmers can disrupt the delicate ecosystems that exist in and around the falls. Fish and other aquatic creatures depend on undisturbed conditions to survive and thrive.

In addition to disrupting the natural habitat, swimming at Hawk Falls can also lead to contamination. Sunscreen, bug spray, and other chemicals commonly used by swimmers can find their way into the water, causing potential harm to the environment.

There are signs all over the trail to Hawk Falls telling hikers to stay on the trail. Even going off the trail damages the plants and natural habitat, encourages erosion, and alters the landscape. Just stay on the trail and keep Hawk Falls at Hickory Run State Park beautiful!

More Waterfalls to See in Hickory Run State Park

In addition to the stunning Hawk Falls, Hickory Run State Park boasts more captivating, although smaller, waterfalls that are worth exploring.

Chapel Falls, located along Hickory Run, offers visitors a serene and picturesque setting with its gentle cascades. While this one isn’t officially designated on the park map, you’ll find it just across the road from the lower parking area for the Shades of Death trail.

The park also features Stametz Dam, a man-made dam. It can be found among the water features near the bottom of the Shades of Death Trail. This unique water feature adds an interesting contrast to the surrounding natural landscape.

Water flows over a man-made rock wall, creating the Stametz Dam in Hickory Run State Park.
The Stametz Dam along the Shades of Death Trail can get crowded on the weekends.

Both “Chapel Falls” and Stametz Dam can be conveniently accessed from a parking area along Route 534. The parking area is small, so if it is full, you can also park in the large parking area at the park visitor center and hike down the Shades of Death trail.

Water Features in Hickory Run State Park

Hickory Run State Park is renowned for its stunning water features, providing visitors with a refreshing and picturesque setting. The park boasts two beautiful lakes, Hickory Run Lake and Sand Spring Lake, offering a range of activities for water enthusiasts.

Hickory Run Lake is a popular spot for fishing. Sand Spring Lake is the only place designated for swimming in the park, with a sandy beach to enjoy during the summer months.

For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the Shades of Death Trail features multiple water features, including both natural and created cascades and smaller water features. This trail offers a thrilling hike through beautiful forested areas, following Hickory Run for much of the way.

The water features along the Shades of Death Trail and throughout the park are beautiful and fun to explore.

Tips for Your Visit to Hickory Run

To make the most of your visit to Hickory Run State Park and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, follow these helpful tips.

First and foremost, if possible, try to plan your visit on weekdays or arrive early on weekends. The park can get quite crowded, especially during the summer season, and arriving early will allow you to beat the crowds and have a more peaceful experience.

The park’s terrain can be rugged and uneven, especially on the Shades of Death trail, with plenty of rocks and exposed roots. Make sure you wear sturdy hiking shoes! Consider using hiking poles to aid in stability and balance. We love the reasonably priced Trail Buddy trekking poles.

Before setting out on your adventure, be sure to obtain a trail map from the visitor center. These maps provide important information about trail routes, amenities, and safety tips. Having a map on hand will help ensure you stay on the right path and don’t miss any of the park’s stunning features. We found some of the trails, like those weaving around the Fireline Trail, to be somewhat confusing, so a map is helpful.

Lastly, it is essential to bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen and insect repellent, and have a snack, just in case. With miles of hiking trails and beautiful waterfalls to explore, staying hydrated, fueled, and protected from the sun’s rays are crucial for a comfortable and safe outing.

More Nearby Places Worth Exploring

In addition to the waterfalls at Hickory Run State Park, there are several other nearby attractions that are worth exploring during your visit to the area.

You’ll definitely want to check out the Boulder Field during your visit. We weren’t sure what to expect the first time we ventured to the area, but the Boulder Field is massive. You could spend a few hours or more just hopping from rock to rock, exploring.

The Shades of Death trail is the most popular hiking trail in Hickory Run State Park, but don’t be afraid to explore the other trails in the park if you want to get away from masses of people on a busy weekend.

A small multi-tier waterfall can be found along the Shades of Death trail in Hickory Run State Park.
Find smaller waterfalls like this one along the Shades of Death Trail in Hickory Run.

Just across the river from Hickory Run, you’ll find Lehigh Gorge State Park. If you brought your bicycle, take a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Trail, a 26-mile section of the Delaware and Lehigh (D&L) Trail. This rail trail follows the Lehigh River with beautiful views and waterfalls along the way. If you didn’t bring your bicycle, you can easily rent one from a local outfitter. They even have a shuttle if you want to ride the entire trail one way.

Big Pocono State Park is located just a short 45-minute drive away. This scenic park offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and is a perfect spot for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. While the park is small, you can easily take a scenic drive around the top of Camelback Mountain.

Searching for more waterfalls? Then you must visit Bushkill Falls, also known as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania.” This stunning series of eight waterfalls is nestled amidst forests and can be explored via a network of boardwalks and hiking trails. Plus, the Delaware Water Gap is full of additional larger waterfalls!

With these fantastic attractions in close proximity to Hickory Run State Park, you’ll have opportunities to explore the natural wonders of eastern Pennsylvania. You’ll need more than a couple of days to really explore!