Pennsylvania's Thunder Swamp Trail

Hiking through wetlands in Pennsylvania? Believe it.
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Hiking through wetlands in Pennsylvania? Believe it.

Pennsylvania

"Nice trail, except for the spider webs," a hiker noted in a Thunder Swamp Trail System register. Geez, here's a deep-woods, multiday getaway only hours from Times Square, and someone's whining about a little gossamer in their hair?

As its name suggests, the 45-mile Thunder Swamp Trail is awash in wetlands. Because the Pocono Plateau sits atop impermeable bedrock, rain collects in all sorts of interesting ways: bogs, swamps, tea-colored streams, waterfalls, beaver ponds, and enchanting bathtub-size depressions crowded with ferns, mosses, and Day-Glo amphibians.

Your wet feet get a break when you traverse the old spruce-and-fir forests and hike along ridges of mixed oaks and blueberries. Watch for deer, wild turkey, bear, and the occasional coyote.

The heart of the Thunder Swamp Trail System is an easy-to-follow, 30-mile orange-blazed main loop trail, plus 15 miles of side trails.

Where:113 miles north of Philadelphia and 115 miles west of New York City. The trailhead is 15 miles north of Stroudsburg on PA 402.

Maps: A detailed map is available free from Delaware State Forest District Office (see below). Three circuit hikes are described in 50 Hikes in Eastern Pennsylvania ($14.95, Backcountry Publications, 800-245-4151).

Trail Info: Delaware State Forest, (570) 895-4000.