From the parking lot at the Nature Center’s Osprey House, start walking out the way you drove in, watching for stone steps leading up to the right at a large sign for the Prairie Warbler Trail. Follow this trail uphill along interpretive signs explaining the revitalization in progress. In 0.15 mile reach an intersection where the Prairie Warbler Trail continues to the right to form a...
From the parking lot at the Nature Center’s Osprey House, start walking out the way you drove in, watching for stone steps leading up to the right at a large sign for the Prairie Warbler Trail. Follow this trail uphill along interpretive signs explaining the revitalization in progress. In 0.15 mile reach an intersection where the Prairie Warbler Trail continues to the right to form a horseshoe loop back to the parking lot. Turn left here on the pink-blazed Woodpecker Trail. The Woodpecker Trail continues on a moderate incline, reaching the white-blazed Appalachian Trail in about a quarter of a mile. Be aware that the Appalachian Trail portion of this hike traverses State Game Lands where hiking should be limited to Sundays during hunting season.
Turn right on the Appalachian Trail and continue ascending, reaching the Outerbridge Shelter 0.85 mile into the hike. The level trail surface at the shelter provides a break before heading steeply uphill once again. A mile into the hike, stay on the Appalachian Trail when the North Trail starts to the right. Continue on the white-blazed AT through this wooded side of the mountain as several unmarked trails branch off. Near the top of the incline there will be seasonal views to the left through the trees.
After crossing a gravel road then a woods road, two communications towers come into view on the right. Continue on the Appalachian Trail until you reach the second sign for the North Trail at the third communications tower 2.6 miles into the hike. Turn right on the blue-blazed North Trail. After a few steps cross a gravel road with the communications tower directly on your left. A few more steps bring you into a completely different world on the other side of the mountain ridge. As the blue-blazed North Trail veers to the right, a panorama spreads out before you. No need to stop to enjoy the views unless you want to because this is the scenery that will be with you for most of the remainder of the hike. Starting here you will experience full exposure due to the lack of trees so plan accordingly before starting out. A hot summer day would probably not be a good choice. Also expect very rocky walking surfaces on this mostly level trail.
After about 2 miles, arrive at an intersection where a right turn leads back to the Appalachian Trail. Look down to your left and notice a large rock with “DP” and an arrow painted in blue. Follow the arrow to the left, staying on the blue-blazed trail, heading towards the Devil’s Pulpit. Keep right at an unmarked fork a short distance ahead.
At the next intersection in 0.2 mile arrive at a sign for North Trail NE and North Trail SW. To the right the North Trail NE leads to the Devil’s Pulpit. Although a short out-and-back trail, it will seem much longer. This is a very steep and strenuous scramble down the side of the rocky mountain to a flat rock outcrop, the Devil’s Pulpit. At this rock outcrop you hover over the Lehigh Gap facing the continuation of the Kittatinny Ridge where the Appalachian Trail continues north. You can always start towards the Devil’s Pulpit and turn back if it proves to be too challenging. Remember the only way out is back up and you will need to climb back up to return to this intersection to pick up the North Trail SW for the remainder of the hike.
Back at the intersection, continue the hike following the North Trail SW a short distance to the orange-blazed Charcoal Trail. Follow the orange blazes as the trail climbs moderately over ground once used for charcoal making. Panoramic views continue all along this trail, a level below the North Trail, in the opposite direction. When the Charcoal Trail ends turn right and follow the Prairie Grass Loop through restored grassland habitat.
The Prairie Grass Loop ends another level lower at the LNE Trail, a smooth and level foot traffic only rail bed that follows the contour of the mountain 100 feet up from the multi-use D&L Trail and the Lehigh River. The Bobolink Trail that begins at this intersection, leads down to the D&L Trail. Turn right and follow the wide, unblazed LNE Trail. Interpretive signs explain the history of the area. In half a mile, look up to see the Devil’s Pulpit from earlier in the hike, looming on the side of the mountain. The rail bed of the LNE Trail ends at an interpretive sign at the end of the left side of a fork where a bridge once spanned the Lehigh River. After visiting this area, retrace a few steps and take the right leg of the fork which extends the LNE Trail as a footpath uphill and over to the entrance road of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.
When you reach the loop of the Nature Center drive, turn right to return to the Osprey House and the parking lot.
Turn By Turn Description:
0.00 Walk towards parking lot entrance and turn right up stone steps to Prairie Warbler Trail
0.15 Turn left on the pink-blazed Woodpecker Trail
0.30 Keep left on Woodpecker Trail when unmarked trail goes right; keep right when unmarked goes straight
0.45 Turn right on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail
0.85 At Outerbridge shelter, the AT levels out briefly then starts steeply uphill again.
1.00 North Trail goes right, keep left; AT levels out; several unofficial trails branch off, stay on AT
2.15 Cross gravel road
2.20 Cross woods road
2.30 1st communications tower on right
2.35 Small power cut and 2nd communications tower
2.60 Turn right on blue-blazed North Trail and pass communications tower to the left at gravel road crossing
4.60 Turn left at DP painted on rock; short distance ahead keep right at unmarked fork
4.80 Right on North Trail NE and descend to Devil's Pulpit; retrace
5.05 Back at intersection continue on North Trail SW to orange-blazed Charcoal Trail
6.05 Right on Prairie Grass Loop
6.35 Turn right on LNE Trail where Bobolink Trail starts on the opposite side
6.85 Pass under Devil's Pulpit
7.05 At fork, end of LNE with interpretive sign to left, footpath uphill to right to continue
7.35 Footpath ends at gravel loop road, turn right on gravel road back to parking lot
7.50 Back at parking lot
Just north of the Appalachian Trail lies a side of the Kittatinny Ridge denuded by a century of industrial pollution. Now undergoing revitalization, a well-blazed network of multi-tiered hiking trails - from river level to mountain ridges - provides miles of panoramic views into the Lehigh Gap and Pocono region.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.