Lehigh Gorge State Park is in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The park mostly follows along the Lehigh River, with areas on both sides of the river protected as part of the park. Main recreational activities at the park include whitewater rafting on the river, as well as biking/hiking the 26-mile Lehigh Gorge Trail. The trail runs along the river near an old railroad. That trail is also part of the larger D&L Trail.
As far as photography is concerned, the park includes some waterfalls, creeks, and views of the river.
There are three main entrances to the park, and they provide different access points to the river and the Lehigh Gorge Trail. The White Haven entrance is to the north. The Rockport entrance is central. And the Glen Onoko entrance is to the south.
The Glen Onoko entrance is well known for being the starting point of the Glen Onoko Falls Trail. This is an amazing hike (you can see more details in our Photographer’s Guide to the Glen Onoko Falls Trail) but the trail itself is almost entirely outside the boundaries of Lehigh Gorge State Park. The parking lot and trailhead is inside the park, but pretty much as soon as you start on the trail you are in the neighboring State Game Lands 141.
Waterfalls of Lehigh Gorge State Park
The Rockport entrance puts you very close to two different waterfalls within the park: Buttermilk Falls and Luke Falls (please note, there are at least 3 Buttermilk Falls in Pennsylvania, all in different parts of the state). To get to the Rockport entrance use these GPS coordinates: 40.966598, -75.755235
There is a small parking lot just off the Lehigh Gorge Trail, right next to the river. That parking lot may or may not be open for parking depending on when you visit. From what I have read it is often available only for pickups and dropoffs during the summer. If that is the case, you can park in the lot just a few hundred yards down Rockport Road. You would drive by that parking lot on your way to the GPS coordinates listed above.
→ Related reading: 10 Tips for Fabulous Waterfall Photography
Both of these waterfalls are right along the Lehigh Gorge Trail. To reach Buttermilk Falls you can hike north on the trail about .3 miles. You can’t miss the falls. There is a small bridge that crosses over the tributary before it flows into the river, and Buttermilk Falls is right there. There is even a sign on the bridge to tell you it is Buttermilk Falls. You can photograph from the bridge, or from either the left or right side. There is more space to the left side, but I tried both and liked my photos from the right side a little better. I would guess the height to be about 50 feet, but there are some other drops above that you can’t see from this vantage point.
To reach Luke’s Falls you can head back towards the parking lot and then stay on the trail for about another .3 miles. At Luke’s Falls there is also a bridge with the name of the fall. This is another tall waterfall. Unfortunately, the view of Luke’s Falls is pretty limited. There are a lot of trees and plants that make it difficult to photograph.
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These two falls are the easiest to see and photograph. There are many hidden falls throughout the park on various tributaries that eventually flow into the river. Unfortunately, many of these are seasonal and will be dry unless there has been a heavy rain or during the spring thaw. Also, most of them are off trail. But if you are up for exploring, there is plenty to be found in the right conditions. Spring would be the best time to see many of these waterfalls.
While you are at the Rockport entrance to the park you can also photograph the cascades on Buck Mountain Creek. The creek flows into the river and just before reaching the river it flows right by the parking lot and trail. You can step down from the parking lot and explore the rocks to photograph the cascades.
Although not technically inside of Lehigh Gorge State Park, the Glen Onoko Trail provides some great views of the river. You can see more details about this trail here. The trail leads to some vistas, including Oxbow Bend. The land that you see on the other side of the river is a part of Lehigh Gorge State Park.
The waterfalls and cascades of Lehigh Gorge State Park are nice, but not as epic as some other locations in the area. I like the Rockport area as a nice side trip if you are already in the area. If you’re interested in more information about other points of interest in the area please see our other guides to:
- Glen Onoko Falls Trail
- Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park
- Bushkill Falls
- Waterfalls of the Delaware Water Gap
- Ricketts Glen State Park