Delaware State Forest - Pike County, PA
The Delaware State Forest is part of Pennsylvania’s extensive 2.2 million acre state forest system, managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Bureau of Forestry.
The Delaware State Forest totals 83,519 acres of state-owned forest land in Pike, Monroe, and Carbon counties, however, most of the forest lies in Pike County. The Delaware State Forest derives its name from the Delaware River that drains the entire area. The area is easily accessible, within a two hour drive of New York City and Philadelphia. The scenic beauty is outstanding and the area draws millions of visitors annually.
Two main forest types meet in the Delaware State Forest. The most common forest community is dominated by a mix of oaks, such as northern red, black, scarlet, white, and chestnut oaks. The other forest type is the northern hardwood community, which can be found on the Pocono plateau of northern Monroe and western Pike counties, where glacial ice scoured the earth some 15,000 years ago. Swamps and peat bogs are common throughout the forest. Wetland forests are dominated by a mixture of conifers and hardwood tree species.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry and Bureau of State Parks permits persons with mobility disabilities to use powered mobility devices for purposes of accessing DCNR lands. In some instances, these areas are not otherwise open for motorized access by the general public. To request this permission or to obtain additional information on DCNR’s policy and the permitting process, please contact the district office.
State Forest roads do not receive winter maintenance such as plowing and cindering. It is recommended that you have a vehicle that is capable of operating in winter weather conditions.
The Laurel Run and Lilly Pond picnic areas have ADA accessible restrooms and parking lots.
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets are welcome, but must be under control at all times.
There are approximately 200 miles of shared-use trails where anyone can hike, bike or horseback ride throughout the year.
The Thunder Swamp trail system traverses 26 miles of southern Pike County. The trail is highlighted by mountain streams, swamps, varieties of forest types, different forest management practices, and other natural features found on the Pocono Plateau. This trail system offers short loop trails for day use and longer loops for overnight backpacking. Permits are required for car camping, group camping with more than 10 persons, or stays at the same location for more than one night. Overnight backpacking is allowed without a permit. To obtain a hard-copy map or a camping permit, contact the district office.
The Laurel Run and Lily Pond picnic areas are equipped pavilions with tables, charcoal grills and rest rooms. The Pecks Pond picnic area lacks a pavilion but is equipped with picnic tables, charcoal grills, and potable water.
The Delaware State Forest permits “motorized camping” and requires a permit for one or more nights. Motorized camping is defined as using your vehicle for storage, but could also be a truck camper, trailer, or a recreational vehicle. All campsites are designated and include a picnic table and fire ring. Group camping is available for groups of more than ten persons, and not only requires a permit, but also requires a Letter of Authorization. Overnight backpacking is allowed without a permit, except when staying at the same location for two or more nights. To obtain a camping permit or Letter of Authorization, contact the district office.
Camping on the Upper Delaware River for one night or more requires a permit. Group size is not limited. Access to this parcel of Delaware State Forest is only by boat. Permits can be obtained by contacting the National Park Service Upper Delaware River Scenic and Recreational River at: 274 River Road, Beach Lake, PA 18405, or by phone at (845) 557-0222.
Hunting & Trapping
Hunting for deer, turkey, grouse, woodcock, squirrels, waterfowl, rabbits, hares, coyotes and black bear is a popular use of the forest during designated seasons. Other than a few safety zones around buildings and picnic areas, hunting is permitted throughout the state forest.
The Delaware State Forest has plenty of angling opportunities. There are thirteen lakes and ponds within the Delaware State Forest. Many clear mountain streams originate on the state forest and eventually tumble down to the Delaware River over stunning waterfalls. The streams provide excellent trout fishing while warm water fishing is good at many of the lakes and ponds.
Anglers on the Delaware River may catch a variety of species including trout, bass, walleye, shad, musky and panfish.
Boat launches are located at White Deer Lake, Pecks Pond, Little Mud Pond and Lake Minisink. A DCNR launch permit or Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission registration is required to launch any boat on Commonwealth waters. All row boats, canoes and kayaks are required to be registered. Electric motors are permitted on all water except those in natural areas. Peck’s Pond is 350 acres and has been used by ice boaters. Ice Boats are require to be registered with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, along with traditional watercraft, such as boats and canoes.
Horses may be ridden on all state forest roads and trails, except in natural areas or the Thunder Swamp hiking trail. Motorized recreational trails offer an extensive trail system for equine users. The Promised Land tract has over 26 miles of trails for equine enthusiasts to enjoy. This trail system links to Promised Land State Park via the Hemlock trail where equine camping is available.
Mountain bikes may be used on all roads and most trails in the Delaware State Forest. Natural areas and the Thunder Swamp trail system are closed to this activity.
The Delaware State Forest maintains three ATV trails totaling more than 28 miles for both class 1 and class 2 ATVs. Summer and winter riding opportunities exist. ATV trails include the Maple Run, Burnt Mills, and the Dixon Miller recreation area. The 1,800 acre Dancing Ridge disabled sportsperson area is available year-round to disabled ATV operators. Contact the district office to obtain an application form and detailed information. ATV’s must be registered with the DCNR, covered by liability insurance, and comply with other regulations.
The Delaware State Forest maintains nearly 115 miles of snowmobile trails, with trail grooming conducted on about 70 miles of this trail network. Trail systems include the following areas: the Promised Land Tract which connects to Promised Land State Park, the Edgemere and Snow Hill snowmobile trail systems, and the Dixon Miller recreation area. Snowmobiles must be registered, covered by liability insurance, and riders must wear helmets. Trail maps and information may be obtained by contacting the district office in Swiftwater or from the district web site.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
Cross-county skiing or snowshoeing can be done on any trail, road or forest land. The Bruce Lake natural area focuses on non-motorized, non-equine, and non-bicycle travel. Bruce Lake is the district’s best cross-country ski and snowshoe trail area. These trails are not groomed and offer skiers and snow-shoe enthusiasts an opportunity to experience the forest’s beauty on a marked trail system.
Please visit the Delaware State Forest's official website for more information: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/stateforests/delaware/
Almost all activities are accessible year-round, weather permitting. The summer ATV riding season runs from Memorial Day through the last full weekend in September. The snowmobiling and winter ATV riding season runs from the day after regular firearms deer season through April 1, weather permitting. Check with the PA Game Commission or the PA Fish and Boat Commission about the various hunting and fishing seasons throughout the area.
DCNR registration fees are assessed for ATVs, snowmobiles, and boats. Applicable hunting and fishing licensing fees are assessed by the PA Game Commission or the PA Fish and Boat Commission. All other activities are free.