We found out about Glen Onoko Falls in Lehigh Gorge State Park (Jim Thorpe, PA) while looking for a hike to do a few weekends ago. This marks an important milestone - the first time we were looking for a hike to do for no reason other than we wanted to go for a hike.
The trail is only 2.1 miles but it's quite difficult and treacherous. There are many warning signs about the risks involved in the hike - I read a news article written in 2013 that named 9 or so people who have died on the trail. It's no joke.
The trail is a loop so when you first get to it, you can head one of two directions. If you head to the left, you will have a quicker trek to the falls. We decided to start off going to the right. My thought was that I'd rather do work early and be rewarded with the waterfalls at the end of the hike rather than seeing the highlights early on and then having a lot of walking with less payoff afterwards. While that line of thinking was accurate, I think if I do the trail again, I'll start to the left for reasons I'll elaborate on below.
Starting to the right, you will climb A LOT of stone steps up to the top of the mountain. The path is very easy to follow as the markings are very clear and it is kept very clear. You start to feel like you're never going to get to the top. At one point, Steph and I would take twenty steps up and need another break. It took a lot of energy! The views are worth it though. You can see a lot of forest and even all the way to Jim Thorpe, a really quaint town.
Once you can pry yourself away from the views over the valley, you walk for maybe half a mile through the woods. You end up at the top of the waterfalls! Since the water wasn't running very heavily, we were able to walk out onto the top of the rocks and look out over the falls. We didn't get too close because we're smart and safe, but there some people sitting with their feet over the edge and taking selfies with their backs turned. To each their own - I prefer not to tempt fate.
As we walked down the trail next to each of the waterfalls, there's about 10 total in the series, I began to realize why we should've taken the trail in the opposite direction. The trail is very steep and filled with loose rocks. It would've been a rough trek in either direction, but it is more difficult when you can't really use your hands to climb and gravity is working against you. Luckily, we had our hiking boots with their great grip and foot support, so we made it down injury-free. And there are so many spots to turn around and see each waterfall. It's really pretty.
The waterfalls were incredible. The view from the lookout point was astounding. The only downside is that there is a lot of graffiti on the rocks by the waterfalls and trash on the trail. It's very disrespectful and disappointing.
Overall - I really enjoyed this hike. It was nice to find a seemingly random hike that was both challenging and rewarding. I would definitely like to do it again sometime, probably taking the loop in the other direction.
The song I selected for this hike is Sunshine On My Back by The National. This band is absolutely amazing and this song reminds me of the trek up to the top of the mountain. The song matches the hike in that it feels like its driving towards an apex, but seems to never get there.