By Melissa Minners
My love for nature began as a young child. Every visit to the Bronx Zoo was an adventure. We’re not talking about the modern Bronx Zoo, although I still love visiting there. We’re talking about the zoo as it was when I was a child when there were more wooded areas, less man-made exhibitions and more natural landmarks. The zoo I remember as a child had various indigenous wildlife running through in addition to some of the man-made exhibitions. Chipmunks jutted out along the path. You had to hike up a rocky terrain to see the wolf trail. The vast varieties of trees were labeled so you knew which species you were looking at. All sorts of birds flew past.
That love for nature expanded as I grew older. Living in the city, it was hard for anyone to see me as a nature lover, but I had tons of books on the subject and had done a great deal of research on animals. The wooded areas around my grandmother’s house were a mystery to me that yearned to be unlocked. Now and adult, I actually work at a job that is surrounded by woods and marshes and I’ve often gone traipsing through these areas for work and pleasure. Whenever I can, I visit areas where I can enjoy nature to the utmost. Last year, I visited The Sourland Mountain Preserve in Somerset County, New Jersey. This year, I decided to check out Bushkill Falls in Bushkill, Pennsylvania with a friend.
Located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls was first opened to the public in 1904 for the admission price of just ten cents. The park encompasses over 300 acres and contains a total of eight different waterfalls and two and a half miles of hiking trails. Closed in the winter due to icy trail conditions, this is a trail best hiked in the spring, summer and early fall. There are two streams that make up the waterfalls of the park. The Little Bushkill Creek starts out in the highlands of the Pocono Mountains, flows through all but three of the Bushkill Falls waterfalls and empties into the Delaware River. Pond Run rises from a number of lakes upstream and runs through the rest of the waterfalls, joining with the Little Bushkill Creek. The water appears brown and foamy, but that is not due to pollution. The coloring and foamy nature come from tannin and tannic acid, natural products of the oak, hemlock, white pine and other trees in the area.
Our journey began with a Wildlife Exhibit at the entrance which shows every animal indigenous to the region. There are foxes, wolves, bears, woodchucks, deer, bobcats, opossum and more. Next, we headed out to the trail. We selected the Red Trail, a trail for avid hikers that goes on for about two miles and consists of a great deal of climbing. This particular trail takes you through a number of natural water falls, creeks, and woodlands and marshes. The beauty of the falls is simply unparalleled and the Red Trail brings you through them all allowing you close contact with natural beauty at its best.
When you’ve completed your journey – about two hours later if you’ve taken the Red Trail – you’re bound to be hungry. The trail leads you right back to wear you started from and, lo and behold, there’s a Picnic Pavillion where you can sit at tables with your own food, or purchase food at very reasonable prices from the snack bar. I had a cheeseburger combo for $7 which featured an amazingly juicy cheeseburger with tomato and lettuce, french fries and a medium soda – a decent amount of great tasting food for the money. Dessert consisted of Hershey’s Ice Cream found at the Ice Cream Parlor.
After dining, you might want to visit the local shops. I purchased a couple of items myself for decent prices. Then, it was off to the Native American Exhibit where we gazed upon artifacts from the Lenape Indian tribe kept in glass cases. One display in particular caught my eye. It took up the entire center of the room and consisted of a Lenape tent. You could peer inside and see a variety of animal skins laid out as bedding. All around you are the sounds of Native American music piped through speakers by a CD player placed in a corner of the room. Afterwards, you can visit the attached shop area and purchase some Lenape-inspired items.
If you are still in the mood to exercise, there is a Paddlewheel Pond right across from the Falls entrance. Each paddleboat that I could see allowed for two riders. Next door to the Paddlewheel Pond is a small Duck Pond. The area outside of Bushkill Falls has tons to offer. There are small museums, petting zoos, parks – there’s just so much to take in!
Whether you’re an avid hiker or an easy walker, Bushkill Falls is the place to be for any nature fan. Loaded with beautiful natural wonders, you simply cannot lose. This park is great for single hikers or whole families. Admission prices are cheap and go toward the trail improvements, repairs and maintenance of the property. If you love communing with nature, Bushkill Falls is just right for you. I can’t wait to go back for another visit!