Bushkill Falls Hike: a review and helpful tips for families.
As we pulled into a huge parking lot at Bushkill Falls, my son looked around and noticed the license plate on the car next to us. “Wow, Virginia!” We looked around some more and noticed Delaware and New York.
“I can’t believe people came from that far away to Pennsylvania to see the waterfalls.”, my son remarked.
It may stump you for a second, but if you look at the map, it really isn’t that bad of drive! Bushkill Falls Park is only 2-2,5 hrs away from Delaware, under 2 hrs from New York, and yes, a little further for Virginia (4,5 hrs), but still pretty doable. Why not spend just a few hours and come to Pennsylvania to enjoy the views of gorgeous waterfalls on a beautiful summer day? This definitely beats the trip to the border with Canada to see the Niagara Falls if you are short on time.
If you live in Eastern PA, this Bushkill Falls hike is definitely a must try for you!
What makes a Bushkill Falls hike a perfect day trip?
- It’s very well maintained and organized. You know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
- The trail descriptions are clear and well guided.
- There are several park workers scattered here and there on the trails, ready to help and guide you.
- The trails are for every level of experience, but even the hardest rated one (the Red Trail) is well suited for families with kids who are active walkers.
- You can hike the Red Trail in just about 2 hours and still have plenty of time left for lunch, gift shop, and other fun attractions (see below).
10 Things We learned on our Bushkill Falls Hike:
1.Location, Admission, Attractions.
Bushkill Falls is located in the beautiful Pocono Mountains. It is only 2 hours away from Philadelphia, and a few hours away from New York, Delaware, Maryland, DC, and Virginia. It makes it a perfect location for a fun family day trip in the mountains.
The admission to the park varies for week-days and week-ends for adults only. Children tickets stay the same price: $8.50. Adult tickets are $16.50 ($14.50 on weekdays), and Senior tickets are $15.50 ($13.50). Children 3 and under are free.
Besides the hiking trails, Bushkill Falls offers other fun activities like Gem Mining ($12), Mini Golf ($5), Paddle Boats ($5 for 15 min), Fishing Permit ($7).
Bushkill Falls grounds have a big Gift Shop with fun souvenirs. It has a nice snack bar, ice-cream stand, and large outdoor pavilions to have a meal, whether you bought it or brought it.
There are 8 beautiful waterfalls total at Bushkill Falls park. Some are big and magnificent, and some are small and delicate. Two streams make up the Bushkill Falls: Little Bushkill Creek Pond Run. The most popular waterfall that everyone wants to see is the Bridal Veil Falls. The biggest and the most striking one is Main Falls with its 100 feet water drop!
What we didn’t know before and learned at the park was that Bushkill Falls is a privately owned park. It belongs to The Charles E. Peters Estate and is being leased to and managed by the company called Aramark.
3. Bushkill Falls Trail Types
Upon arrival, we learned that there 4 different trails we can take to see the falls. Easiest/shortest to hardest, the trails colors are: Green (15 min), Yellow (45min), Blue (1h15min), Red (2 hours). The Red Trail is the only Bushkill Falls trail that allows you to see all 8 waterfalls.
We chose the….Red one! It is rated for experienced hikers only. But, in my opinion, if you and your family have done any sort of hiking, you should be just fine.
However, if you have any sort of health concern, I would consider some other shorter trails. Read a story below.
Real life example: One hiker got really dizzy and saw sparks fly in front of her eyes. I think it was just the heat that got to her, and thankfully a park ranger/worker was nearby to provide first aid. So if you have blood pressure or heart condition, its’ probably best to stick with the easier and shorter trails and bring lots of water or this cooling towel.
Trail TIP 1: Go left!
If you decide to go on a Bushkill Falls hike and choose Red Trail, after the main platform overlooking the top of the Main Falls, turn LEFT to follow the signs for the Red Trail. I have gone both ways on the Red Trail, right and left, and I can tell you from experience, it’s A LOT easier to tackle the stairs in the beginning of your Bushkill Falls hike, both going up and down. Trust me, at the end of your hike on the Red Trail, you will want a relaxing slower pace hike through the woods next to the bubbling creek on your right.
Trail TIP 2:
Keep Looking for the correct color marker and don’t despair if you can’t find it. Even though the park is generally well-maintained, sometimes you have things like these happen.
All you have to do is to look for a park employee near by and ask for directions or backtrack your steps a little and follow a map more closely.
4. bushkill falls hike Terrain
The Red Trail hike will give you all the options in one hike: the wooden stairs, sturdy bridges, nature paths, a trail made of rocks, a trail through the woods, and a creek bank path. It is a well-rounded trail with just enough challenge to push you. It is most definitely NOT a boring hike!
5. Bridal Veil Falls
We learned that the hottest attraction on the Bushkill Falls hike is the Bridal Veil Falls. Everybody wants to see and photograph it. And it’s no surprise—it’s gorgeous! Its running sparkling waters remind you of the delicate Bride’s veil material. And the way it sparkles and reflects in the light almost makes you imagine how the veil is swirling in the gentle breeze and uncovering the face of the bride. It’s truly a beautiful sight.
Take your time and don’t let the crowds scare you off. They come and go. Wait your turn, come closer to the railing where you can see the falls up close, snap some pics, and keep on going to let others do the same.
6. A hidden Gem (The Bridesmaids Falls)
Yes, Bridal Veil Falls is a sight to see for sure, but I really liked the next one, The Bridesmaid’s Falls. Just like in life, the bridesmaid is a close friend of the bride who stays humbly to the side as to not overshadow the bride’s beauty, this waterfall represents just that–a humble companion to the Bride. It’s more modest and less crowded, but not any less beautiful.
7. Rock Statues Garden (Cairns Garden)
Somewhere between Peters Corners (19) and Pennel Falls (17) on the Pennel Falls Trail, you will come across a Rocks Statue Garden. Not sure if there’s an official name for it. But that’s what my family and I named it. In a large opening in the woods, people have built numerous rock cairns by stacking small rocks on top of one another using nothing but the balancing art.
Note: along this stretch of the trail you will find lots of benches and trash cans, which was helpful to get rid of all those water bottles we chugged on our hike.
Even though it is not officially prohibited, they generally discourage to have any food on the trails. But even though the Red Trail hike will only take a couple of hours, it will surprise you that all of a sudden you feel hungry. And, honestly, kids probably simply get a little bored from all the walking.
You can wait until you reach the end of the trail to have a snack. Or, like us, find a few large stones and set up “snack camp” there. We only packed a few trail mix baggies, so it wasn’t a big deal. Make sure not to leave any trash behind. There will be trash cans further on the trail.
9. Duration of the longest Bushkill Falls Hike
The Red Trail hike took us 2,5 hours with lots of stops at each waterfall, snacking, stick sharpening, cairn building, rock skipping, etc.
If you are hiking without the kids, this trail will take well under 2 hours at moderate speed. But if you are hiking as a family with a few young kiddos, expect to spend at least 2,5 hours on the trail.
10. things to wear and bring
- Because of water exposure on the Bushkill Falls trails you might want to wear clothes that dry off quickly and are good at wicking moisture.
- You can get away with wearing good quality water sandals. This will also give you a chance to creek walk. But no flip flops! This will be extremely hazardous to try and hike on the slippery rocks.
- Bring lots of water! All that walking and climbing stairs makes you work up quite a sweat!! This water jug is amazing at keeping water chilled or consider getting a camelback backpack.
- Don’t forget bug spray and sun screen. Even though most of the Red Trail is in area covered with trees, it can be deceiving and it’s very easy to get a sunburn.
Was I convincing enough that this is an awesome way to spend a day in nature? It will be a time that will bring you many awesome memories, and you will learn a thing or two about history, nature, and… survival on a family hike, ha!
Have you been to Bushkill Falls? Wat did you think? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear what you loved the most.