Hickory Run State Park hosts a variety of outdoor activities, but when we heard “Boulder Field,” we could not resist a trip. This 15,990 acre park, located in the western foothills of the Pocono Mountains, boasts a National Natural Landmark unlike any we had seen before.
About the Boulder Field
The Hickory Run Boulder Field is the largest of its kind in the Appalachian region. (Honestly, it’s the only one we’ve ever encountered so I’m thinking we need to do some more research on this. Comment below if you’ve got a boulder field for us!) The field is located in the northeast corner of the park and can be reached by car or hiking the 3.5 mile Boulder Field Trail from the SR534 Trailhead in the park.
The boulder field encompasses about 720,000 square feet of the park with a gorgeous surrounding coniferous forest. The boulders range from the smallest (25.6 centimeters) size to greater than 30 feet in length within the field.
The science behind their knowledge of this boulder field is astounding. Data collected here suggests Hickory Run’s boulder field has endured multiple glacial-interglacial cycles and conceivably at least one glaciation to have become so large. We’re talking periods of 150,000-900,000 years ago! These rocks have shown a lot of resilience to weather and erosion to stick around this long. The constant freeze, thaw, and shifting of the area’s sandstone has created this field of boulders.
We would agree with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks on listing this as one of “25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.” We think it’s also definitely high on the list of Eastern United States natural wonders.
The park contains 44 miles of trails that offer varied hiking experiences from easy to difficult. For a special treat, visit from mid-June through mid-July when the mountain laurel and rhododendron are blooming or in mid-October at the height of the fall foliage. The trails are open to hiking, cross country skiing, and snow mobiles.
“Shades of Death” Trail– thick forests and rough terrain make this one of the most difficult trails, but it’s also one of the most visually attractive
The Fireline, Gould, and Pine Hill Trails- all suitable for cross-country skiing in winter.
Hawk Falls Trail– short (.6 miles), but more difficult, leads to a popular waterfall.
Blue Trail– you can find blueberry picking along this trail when in season
Sand Spring Lake has a sand beach with shower/restroom facilities and a concession stand. Open season is late May to mid-September from 8:00 A.M. to sunset. The area is small, but we found it a great size for the number of visitors we encountered at the end of June. The swimming section is roped off and the water doesn’t get very deep.
There are a few options for camping at Hickory Run…
- Large Tent & Trailer Camping
- Campground Hosts
- Camping Cottages
- Deluxe Camping Cottages
- Organized Groups Tents & Cabins
We enjoyed a weekend of rustic camping in a tent set next to a run/stream in the forest. There was an awesome climbing rock next to our site too. The camping experiences can get more elaborate with a refrigerator, stovetop, lighting, outlets, and heat, but the costs also increase with these amenities. There are a lot of choices to help you plan an enjoyable stay.
Top 10 Activities at Hickory Run
This juicy excerpt was taken from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources website …
Walk across Boulder Field.
Cool off your feet in waters below Hawk Falls.
Enjoy the solitude of Stametz Dam along Shades of Death Trail.
Throw a picnic! Play 18-holes of disc golf followed by a picnic in Sand Spring Day Use Area.
View the Lehigh Gorge along Fireline Trail.
Pull a wild brook trout from Hickory Run or Mud Run.
Have an ice cream after swimming in Sand Spring Lake.
Cross-country ski Sand Spring Trail.
Spend a weekend with the family in a rustic camping cottage.
Visit a neighbor — Lehigh Gorge State Park!
Activities at Hickory Run
Hike, Picnic, Swim, Fish, Hunt, Disc Golf, Orienteer, Cross Country Ski, Snowmobile, Wildlife Watch, Ice Skate
- 3613 State Route 534
White Haven, PA 18661-9712
- Open 365 days, sunrise to sunset
- Terrific park brochure with info
- Biking is prohibited on all trails.
- Alcoholic Beverages are prohibited
- There are many pet restrictions in this park. Do your research before bringing your furry family member.
- No outside firewood allowed (Invasive Beetle Threat)
- There is an active Black Bear population at this park (we did not see any). The park advises:
- NEVER approach a bear to pet, feed, or photograph it.
- ALL food and scented items must be stored in locked vehicles.
- If a bear approaches you, NEVER throw food or other objects; they can act as an attractant rather than a deterrent.
- Do not run from a bear; stay together as a group, clap your hands and shout loudly while backing away slowly.
Family Adventure Rating ❤️❤️
Cost– A family of five can enjoy this adventure at a relatively low cost. There are no entrance or day-use fees for Pennsylvania state parks. If you decide to stay overnight, the basic campsite fee is $20 per night for a non-resident ($15 resident). Your biggest expenses are food and travel. You may want to add the cost of other adventures if you’re staying for a bit. We enjoyed white water rafting which ranges from $45-51.00 per person. (Note: Min. age for rafting is 4yrs. and 8 yrs. depending on water difficulty)
Parking & Transportation– There is plenty of parking at all of the areas in the park. If you’re driving, the park is easily accessible from Interstate 476 and Interstate 80. No easy mass transit option is available to get you directly to this state park. You can use mass transit to get to the nearest large city and then look for local bus routes and ride shares. However, you’d have a much better time motivating someone with a vehicle to take a road trip with you.
Location– Pennsylvania is a beautiful state and it is conveniently located. You’re about two hours away from New York City and Philadelphia with parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware close by. Hickory Run is in a more rural section of the state which allows for the amazing natural scenery.
Day Trip or Overnight– Our family enjoyed this trip as an overnight adventure. There’s a lot to explore at this state park and some great adventures in the nearby areas. We enjoyed overnight camping and a day of white water rafting with Jim Thorpe River Adventures. We also spent an entire day enjoying the Boulder Field and checking out the Lake. If you live close enough to commute, this is a great day trip as well.
Experience– Our family loves outdoor adventures so Hickory Run State Park was an awesome experience. We not only love being outdoors, but we really love finding different natural attractions. Waterfalls, caves, and scenic overlooks draw us in, so you can imagine our joy to find a boulder field.
Combination– This state park offers a weekend’s worth of adventures, but if you just can’t get enough, the area has lots more to offer. Whitewater rafting is popular in the area and there a few companies to choose from to make your experience perfect. We enjoyed the Jim Thorpe River Adventure that led us on an awesome rafting trip though Lehigh Gorge State Park . A few other interesting adventures… Daisy Field Farm , Pocono Bike Rental , Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway