Glen Onoko: Another Snowy Hike Along The Lehigh River

There was still a lot of snow on the ground last Sunday, and, since I don’t like cross country skies or snow shoes, I decided to again  hike the compacted snow left by  the snowmobiles  on the D & L Trail, this time at Glen Onoko.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -1

I arrived at the trail under mostly  clear blue skies and the strong March sun. The temperatures were more like Alaska than Northeastern Pennsylvania in March, a frigid 12 degrees when I began my hike.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -2

I encountered another photographer on my walk and we had a nice chat about the trail and the surrounding area and it’s history .Lehigh River Glen Onoko -7

As we walked along the still active railroad tracks into the gorge we  ran into these dog sledding enthusiasts, making me again feel like I was in Alaska.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -1

We we treated to this interesting situation of what happens when two dog sled teams cross paths. It seemed the dogs had to stop and socialize a bit, much to the frustration of their owners. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -5

My new photographer friend stayed to photographs the dog sled teams and I continued my hike  along the gorge. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -2

I encountered a few folks on snow mobiles along the way, a cross country skier and one dedicated woman running in the snow. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -27

I hike along the winding Lehigh River as it flowed through the mountains, as it did for thousands of years, creating the steep cliffs of the gorge. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -21

It is truly a beautiful place to hike, any time of the year , yes even with 20 inches of snow on the ground, and frigid temperatures. You just got to dress warm. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -33

I hiked past the Pioneer Oil Pipe line. I did a blog post on the interesting history of this pipeline, one of the first in the country. It can be found in the archives. I believe it now carries fiber optic cables. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -22

The March sun was higher in the sky now and it began to melt the top layers of the snow, causing me to break through the top compacted layer created by the snow mobiles and making walking difficult. And it was a long walk back.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -38

 The exhausting walks required a few rests along the way, which wasn’t a bad thing. I love listening to the flow of the river. Here is a link to a video I uploaded YouTubeLehigh River Glen Onoko -35

I saw little wild life on my hike, no bears, Lehigh River Glen Onoko -6

but a few birdsLehigh River Glen Onoko -29

including a few  turkey vultures soaring overhead. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -30

And even a few insects, a sure sign of spring.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -39

It was a cold and tiring hike but well worth the effort to once again enjoy the beauty that surrounds us here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Hopefully the rain, and warmer temperatures  forecast for this weekend will melt the snow and make walking a bit easier. Sorry,  to my dog sledding and snowmobiling friends, but it’s time for Spring! Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. River Glen Onoko -11

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’”
―Lewis Carroll


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It’s Sure Not Looking Like Spring In The Lehigh River Gorge

I knew my hiking options would be limited this weekend. We still have around 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  a gift from the late season snow storm named Stella. And it was snowing again this morning!  I decided to hike the D & L trail in the Lehigh River Gorge State Park at the entrance near the little town of Rockport. Lehigh gorge -1

I chose this trail since it allows snowmobiles.  These recreational vehicles compact the deep snow cover. making for easier hiking. I was hoping there was at least one snowmobile enthusiast out on the trail since the storm.  I knew it would be hard walking in the  snow when I saw these two deer having a hard  time getting around in the snow drifts. Lehigh gorge -2

I made it down the steep road to the parking area along the Lehigh River and found two other automobiles so I wasn’t the only one down here like I was a few weeks ago. Lehigh gorge -4

I was relieved to find that there were snowmobile tracks on the trails and I began my hike by heading  eastward on the trail.Lehigh gorge -9

I found there were more ice formations on the cliffs along the river today than there were in January. Lehigh gorge -11

After about a quarter mile I came to Buttermilk Falls which was not frozen and had much more water cascading down it’s cliffs than my last visit. Lehigh gorge -15

I walked past a couple walking their dog and didn’t see another person  for the next three miles. There also wasn’t much wildlife out either. I saw a small hawk darting in and out of the threes along the gorge, a few nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and this woodpecker. i wasn’t sure if it was a downy or hairy. Lehigh gorge -22

I enjoyed listening to the roar of the river below the trail that followed the old railroad right of way. I walked by the ruins of the old locks that were part of the Lehigh Canal but I didn’t venture off the trail to explore them, as I always do, because of the deep snow. Lehigh gorge -27

I walked out about 3 miles, to Mud Run, where it flows into the Lehigh and the exhibits on the Mud Run train disaster that occurred near here in 1880. I did a blog post on the massacre and it can be found in the archives of my blog. Lehigh gorge -33

I decided to leave the compacted snow of the trail and venture down to the Lehigh River. It wasn’t easy. The snow was up to my knees, and even higher in some drifts. But the walk was worth it. Lehigh gorge -35

I  always enjoy sitting next to water, whether it is a pond, lake creek, river or ocean. Today I had to sit on a wet rock but i still enjoyed the view, and the sound of the flowing water. Lehigh gorge -39

As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis may know,  I love trains and I was rewarded for my efforts to get down to the river when I heard an approaching train. I watched the locomotive pass, the engineer honked his horn at me, followed by almost 100 tankers. Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel. Gorge rockport 114

After the train passed I trudged back up to the trail and finally saw two persons riding their snow mobiles on the trail. Lehigh Gorge rockport 131

Even with the snow being compacted from the snowmobiles it  wasn’t easy walking, there being an inch or two of lose snow atop the compacted snow. It was a long  and exhausting walk back. I am still sore as I type this. Lehigh gorge -29

Still it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the aftermath of the storm. Lehigh gorge -18

At least the snow had stopped and the temperatures were not too bad, staying  near the freezing mark.  Evidence of this would be the leaves of the many rhododendron  growing along the trail. In frigid temperatures their leaves curl up but not today.Lehigh gorge -21

I passed another couple on snowshoes before I arrived at me car. So this time I was not alone in the gorge, like my last visit, there were seven other people out enjoying the beauty of the Lehigh River. Hopefully, this blog may encourage some other folks to head out in  snow, and enjoy, what I am hoping is the last winter storm for at least another year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike . gorge -26

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” Norman Maclean,

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Winter In The Lehigh River Gorge: Some Interesting Ice Formations And Other Cool Stuff.

We got some colder weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania today, temperatures were in the low teens  this morning.  I decided to  hike out the Lehigh River Gorge State Park at the Rockport access entrance to see how much ice has formed on the river.  Unlike the warmer months, when the parking area is filled with buses, cars, hikers, bikers and white water rafters, the place was deserted.  In fact I was the only car there. lehigh-gorge-hike-1

No complaints  from me, I like the solitude,  as I proceeded south on the trail that follows the old rail road right of way along the Lehigh River. lehigh-gorge-hike-2

The trail was not what I expected or had hope to find . It was very icy, caused by snow mobile traffic when the snow was soft and had now frozen into a trail of ice. I had to avoid the center of the trail and walked along the edges. I soon came upon the small,  but always pretty, Luke’s Falls.  lehigh-gorge-hike-5

Adjacent to the falls is an old stone structure that housed something to do with the railroad. i have tried to research what is was but with no success. If anyone has any information please feel free to comment. lehigh-gorge-hike-7

I continued my hike along the river.  I walked through the thick growths of rhododendron along the trail.lehigh-gorge-hike-19

 I noticed that the leaves had rolled up from the frigid temperatures.  I first noticed this impact  the cold has on the leaves while delivering newspapers on a cold January morning  many years ago.  lehigh-gorge-hike-4

The trail is lined by the steep slopes of the Broad Mountain to the west and south and the waters of the Lehigh River to the east.  Ice was just beginning to from on the slow moving areas  of the river and for the most part it was ice free. I decided to hike down to take a closer look at the frigid waters. lehigh-gorge-hike-12

As happens so many times on my hikes, I was rewarded for my curiosity with an amazing discovery. I found beautifully intricate ice formations that formed along the river. lehigh-gorge-ice-12

I have never seen ice form in perfect circles like this and I have no idea how they were formed. But they  beautiful and they reminded me that there is always something to be found, even on the coldest of days, if you keep your eyes peeled while walking in the woods. lehigh-gorge-ice-1

There were also many ice formations forming along the river. lehigh-gorge-ice-5

I walked back up to the trail and made another discovery. At first, when I walked past this discovery I thought it was a pile of dirt kicked up by the snowmobiles. As I walked by I thought it looked unusual and, upon a closer inspection, realized it was a frozen mole. Not sure how or why it died but I am sure it will be a welcome winter meal for some critter tonight. lehigh-gorge-hike-21

I walked down another mile or so, enjoying the ice formations that formed from the small streams, creeks and waters flowing down the steep slopes of the gorge. lehigh-gorge-ice-18

Along my way I found some remains of the past season such as this now frozen mushrooms. We have had some warm spells in December and I believe these mushrooms grew during those warm days only to be quickly frozen when the temperatures dropped. lehigh-gorge-hike-20

The snow created a white carpet throughout the gorgfe but it was scattered with the fallen leaves, lehigh-gorge-hike-10

or pine needles from the trees above. lehigh-gorge-hike-24

And some plants clung to life along the cliffs and slopes of the gorge, such as these ferns. lehigh-gorge-hike-30

I walked back to the parking area and then walked east to visit Buttermilk Falls. Along the way I again walked by large ice formations that formed from the waters flowing down the cliffs along the river. Because of the unseasonably warm weather, and lack of rain, they were not as large as they are in most years. Here is a link to my photo gallery with more photographs of the many ice formations I saw  on my hike today.

I continued my hike out to Buttermilk Falls which were also  flowing ice free.lehigh-gorge-hike-35

Again, many years I find them partially frozen this time of year, and, in some cold years, they are completely frozen over. Not this year, but we still have two months of winter left, and  it may be frozen solid before it is over.  I hope not, I will enjoy a hike in the cold, but I look forward to the lengthening days and warmer temperatures of Spring, and it is only seventy-one days away, not that I’m counting. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike along the Lehigh River.

With beauty before me, may I walk 
With beauty behind me, may I walk 
With beauty above me, may I walk
With beauty below me, may I walk
With beauty all around me, may I walk
Wandering on the trail of beauty, may I walk”
–  Navajo: Walking Meditation lehigh-gorge-hike-18




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No Bears Or Snakes But Lot Of Trains In The Lehigh Gorge At Glen Onoko

It was another hazy, hot and humid day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and it wasn’t easy  deciding where to hike. We have so many wonderful options to chose from here. I decided it would be a good day to look for snakes. I have yet to encounter a  copperhead or timber rattlesnake when I have my camera  and I would love to get some close ups of this misunderstood and feared critters. . So I decided to walk the Lehigh Gorge  at Glen Onoko since there are a lot of old stone walls and rocks  along the railroad tracks. A perfect place for a snake to spend a sunny June morning. Glen Onoko hike -2

I arrived to find the parking lots filled with cars. . There were many out of state licence plates on the cars. A lot of folks were heading to the Lehigh River with fishing gear, others were unloading their canoes or bicycles and some with hiking gear were headed to the famous waterfalls. Glen Onoko hike -1

I headed east on the trail and walked the railroad tracks for the first mile, hoping to find some snakes in the rocks along the rails. I didn’t find any but I did see a lot of butterflies feeding on the many patches of milkweed growing along the tracks. Glen Onoko hike -4

There were also large patches of mullein, just ready to start blooming and these too should attract a lot of moths butterflies, bees and other insects in the coming weeks. Glen Onoko hike -5

I left the tracks near the sign warning visitors of the bears in the area. I have hiked here many times and have not seen one. I was hoping today would be the first time but it wasn’t.Glen Onoko hike -9

The skies were clear and the early Summer sun was intense so I was glad to enter the shade under the trees growing along the Lehigh River. And where there are trees and shade there are ferns. Glen Onoko hike -15

As I approached the river I heard not only the rushing of the waters but also the familiar sound of the cicadas coming from across the river. We had a hatch near my home two years ago but I did read about a hatch near Jim Thorpe this Summer. They were quite loud but only an occasional insect fluttered over the trees from across the river. I may hike on the other side next week to see the extent of the hatch.Glen Onoko hike -49

I walked to the start of the long stone wall that was built to protect the railroad tracks from the flood waters of the Lehigh River. Last year IGlen Onoko hike -17 saw a lot of skinks, a native lizard, here but I was disappointed to not find a single one this year.

And not a snake either, although I know they reside here as evidenced by this snake skin one of them had shed and left behind.

A passenger train carrying tourists runs next to the active railroad track and one of these trains passed me when I first arrived.  Another passed me on my hike and both of them  again passed me on their return . I always enjoy seeing trains  on my hikes but even more so in this narrow section of the Lehigh Gorge, with the tree covered mountains  adding a scenic background. Here is a link to my Youtube video of one of these trains. Onoko hike -36

I continued to walk the trail with the river to my right and  the railroad tracks to my left, following the curves of the river as it wound it’s way through the mountains. Glen Onoko hike -26

I again came to one of the first oil pipelines in the United States  which was built in 1886 . I explained some of the history of the pipeline and the even older  Lehigh Canal in some earlier post which you can find in the archives . Glen Onoko hike -23

I found a path leading down to the river and rested along it’s banks, enjoying the sounds of the rushing waters, the sunshine and the singing of the birds. It was a very peaceful place to rest. Glen Onoko hike -27

Again I heard a lot of birds singing high in the treetops but had a hard time seeing, let alone photographing them. I did see a few catbirds, sparrows, crows , turkey vultures and, much to my delight a bald eagle!. Unfortunately I didn’t get a single photograph of a bird, or animal, not even a squirrel or chipmunk. I did continue to see a lot of moths and butterflies visiting the many milkweed plants flowering along the trails. Glen Onoko hike -19

I walked out to where Bear Creek enters the Lehigh on the other side of the river and made the long hike back in the early Summer sun and heat, passing many hikers, bikers and fishermen along  the way.  Some cumulus clouds were now forming adding to the already picturesque scenes as the trail followed the meandering river through the hills of the Lehigh Gorge. I didn’t get to photograph any bear or snakes but it was still a wonderful hike on this perfect  June day.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in Glen Onoko . Onoko hike -1Glen Onoko hike -42



“Trains tap into some deep American collective memory.”
Dana Frank


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The Lehigh Gorge From Above: On The Broad Mountain

Another beautiful day in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And I wasn’t going to stay indoors. I decided to hike the Broad Mountain to the spectacular view, above,  of the Lehigh River Gorge. Broad Mountain (41 of 44)

It’s about a 3 3/4 mile hike to the view on a good trail through State Game lands.   The  trail was improved with stone, although the stone they placed on the trail made it a bit more difficult to hike. And the stone replaced the grass which did  harbor quite a few ticks.  Pulled many off my legs last year but not one today.

As I began my walk today I immediately saw that the northern side of the path had a recent  fire.  An  interesting contrast  between the charred black  remains of the fire on one side of the trail and the light greens of the new leaves on other.Broad Mountain dragon fly (42 of 44)

The trail slopes down to a fast moving  stream called Jeans Run. I have spent many hours walking down this stream and enjoying the noisy running waters. No time today so hike up the mountain. Spooked a few deer and a lot of chipmunks. Heard crows, robins, bluejays and other song birds but only saw a few towhees rustling in the brush.

I also heard a sound that was disturbing and which I know all to well. The munching sound of the gypsy moth. This pest has ruined countless acres of forest here in our area. I first remember that munching sound picking blueberries as a child. It has been a dry Spring and this is not good for the oaks and other trees. The gypsy moths do not do well in cool wet weather. We had cool and wet springs the past few years and it kept the moths numbers down. Not this yearBroad Mountain butterlies (1 of 44), unfortunately I think there will be a lot of damage done by these  voracious caterpillars.


The trail continues under pines, oaks and maples and heads down to James run, the stream that creates the famous Glen Onoko falls. Lot of history and legends associated with these beautiful falls but that will be for another day.It has native trout and i saw a few dart underneath the bridge as I crossed over.

I reached the trail to the overlook and hiked up to the rocks jutting along the gorge and creating the view. There is a campsite there and often think of the good time the folks who camped there must have had.

The view of the river and gorge is spectacular. Love to just site and take it in. Many time I have meet groups of college kids who hike up along the Glen Onoko falls. Today I shared it with a lone trail bike rider who soon left to allow me to take in the view. Love thinking how much more peaceful it was before we built the railroads and cities that can be seen in the distant. Spent some time just taking in the beauty of this special place and then took a nice slow hike back. What a great way to spend a day in May.

Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike today.

Broad Mountain (2 of 44)

Time is a flowing river. Happy those who allow themselves to be carried, Broad Mountain (13 of 44)unresisting, with the current. They float through easy days. They live, unquestioning, in the moment.  Christopher Darlington Morley


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Glen Onoko, Lehigh River Gorge, A Lot Warmer Than My Last Visit.

Another nice Spring day and I decided to hike down in the Lehigh River Gorge.This river meanders through the edge of the Pocono Mountains  creating a deep winding gorge as it does. I have hiked it in  the late Fall and Winterrailroad hike snake 3 (45 of 48)   but never in warm weather so thought I’d check it out today, Good choice. It truly is a beautiful place in the Spring.

The hills were adorned it their light green spring attire of freshly sprouted leaves. The trail runs along the active railroad track through heavily wooded state game lands. I saw a lot of hikers and bikers on the trail today and rafters, kayakers and even a few fisherman in the river.lizard (11 of 48)

Lot of birds singing along the trail but they were in the trees below the trail near the river and hard to photograph. I did experience my first encounter with lizards here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I ran into a few of them and think they are a species of skinks. Also found a dead baby ringnecked snake. It seems a there are a lot of reptiles living in the rock wall that protects the railroad tracks from the flood waters of the Lehigh River.lizard (16 of 48)

It was so peaceful walking under newly green trees and listening to the roar of the Lehigh River. I sat down a few times to just relax and enjoy . Here is a link to a video of one of my resting areas. You can here the river, the singing birds and even the sound of the newly hatched cicada. I could  have sit there all day.

I walked out about five miles and decided to take a break when I heard  a train whistle. I love trains and sat and watched the local tourists train take it’s passengers for a ride through the beautiful gorge. Here is the Youtube link to another video I took of the train. Pretty cool if  you like trains hike snake 3 (34 of 48)

It was a long walk back but didn’t mind it one bit, walking in this wonderful gorge along the river. I had enjoyed walking down here in  the winter  months but it was so much nicer today. For those interested in some more of the history here is the link to my February 1st blog

There are  so many places to visit here in Northeastern Pennsylvania but you should hike the Lehigh River Gorge at Glen Onoko. A prefect place to take in the beauty of Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today. snake (1 of 1)



There are many ways to salvation, and one of them is to follow a river. — David Brower

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Is It Really Spring? Sure Doesn’t Look That Way Down Here. .

Wasn’t the way I had been planning to spend the first full day of Spring down at the Lehigh River Gorge. Looked more like a walk in the middle of January on my hike today. . But that is what we expect here in the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The unexpected. Some years the trees could be budding and the temperature could be in the 70’s. Lehigh Gorge (13 of 26)

Wasn’t to bad walking with temperatures near freezing. And there were signs of Spring. The river was ice free and many of the large ice formations had melted considerably since my last visit. It looks line the trail was also mostly snow free, until we got the six new inches of snow yesterday. But it was already starting to melt. Won’t be long no until we start seeing some green.

But had to admit, as much as I don’t like the snow, especially this late in the season, it sure looked pretty in the gorge carved out by the Lehigh River. So peaceful, except for a few snowmobilers, who I was grateful to see since they blazed a trail through the snow for me. And a couple of brave kayaks were venturing into the frigid and fasting moving waters of the rivers.   The town  of Rockport,  once a gate way to the old Lehigh Canal also looked pretty in the snow.  Although it wasn’t what I had hoped for on the first full day of Spring,   still a great day to be outdoors in Northeast Pennsylvania.   here is the link to some more photographs I took in the winter wonderland that was the Lehigh Gorge today.

Lehigh Gorge (2 of 26)

“The snow was endless, a heavy blanket on the outdoors; it had a way about it. A beauty. But I knew that, like many things, beauty could be deceiving.” Cambria Herbert. 

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Back Down to the Lehigh, Still Frozen But Signs of Spring.

Got a little warmer today, and sure felt Spring in the air but still a lot of snow out there and not many options on hiking in the woods. Once again I headed down to the Lehigh Gorge to take advantage of the trails made by the snowmobilers.

The river is still mainly frozen and the ice formations are still frozen solid but a lot more folks out there today taking advantage of the 40 degree temperature. Headed south this time. More pine trees and, since it is on the trail is on the northeast  side of a mountain a deeper snow pack. I was going to hike down to the river but found the snow higher than my knees and wasn’t going to trudge through it since I am still having some hip issues. Saw a few deer and, a my first sign of Spring, a flying insect. Here is a link to the photo. Gorge (27 of 60)

It was a nice hiking in the warmer temperatures but still rough going even on the snow mobile trails. i hike down to the railroad bridge on the Drake creek. Hoping next time I’m here it’s snow and ice free. But that may not be until April. Here are some more photos I took on my hike.

Lehigh Gorge (55 of 60)


Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”
Emma Smith

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Ice and Snow can be Beautiful too, a Late Winter Walk in the Lehigh River Gorge.

I enjoyed the beauty of the tropics this past week during my visit to Belize and, will admit, I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the record breaking cold in my hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I was planning to just do some walking in town today since I had a lot of unpacking and chores to take care of.

I was visiting my brother when my nephew Mike asked me if I would take him to see the ice and waterfalls in the Lehigh Gorge. I had taken him there a few years ago and he wanted to return. Good choice Mike. Although it was cold, and we were the only folks down there,   we really enjoyed the frozen beauty of the  river and ice formations.  The Lehigh was completely frozen over in spots as was Buttermilk waterfalls. The ice formations on the rocks of the gorge was huge and beautiful. Loved the shades of gray and blue.  Realized you don’t have to go to the tropics to see the beauty in nature, it is everywhere. I’ll admit it is getting harder to deal with the cold as I grow older but still fun to get out there and enjoy it. The photo above is my nephew at the river.

We headed back just in time to beat the snow.  I took a short video of  my walk during the afternoon in the wind and snow so my new friends in Belize can see what real cold weather is about. They were freezing when the temperature got into the 60’s. It was -7 degrees on my way home from the airport last night. This is the link to the you tube video.

No matter were we live, there is nothing we can do about the weather except to try and enjoy it the best we can. And, I’ll admit it isn’t easy here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m counting the days until Spring. Here is a link to some more photos of the ice formations from the Lehigh gorge today. Gorge 030

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More ice and snow along the Lehigh River

We got some moderation in the temperature today, a balmy 22 degrees this morning, but there is still a deep snow cover out there. Decided to take advantage of the paths left by snowmobilers and hike in the Lehigh Gorge. Wasn’t bad walking and ran into a few cross country skiers and snowmobilers. Not much wildlife except a red tailed hawk.  I was disappointed that Buttermilk Falls was covered with snow but there were a lot of large ice formation along the walls of the gorge. Enjoyed the beautiful winter scenery but still looking forward to the warmer days and muddy paths of Spring. Here is the link to some of the photos I took along the hike.

 [W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel. ~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,”

Lehigh Gorge Rockport 073

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