Mount Nebo Regional Park
IF YOU GO
Where: Mount Nebo Regional Park is in Smithfield Township, northeastern Pennsylvania. The parking lot is at 406 Mount Nebo Road. Take Mount Nebo Road either from Route 209 or from Buttermilk Falls Road.
GPS coordinates: 41.035662, -75.108830
Trail information: The outer loop trail is 2 miles, blazed in white. The trail is steep in spots and crisscrossed with tree roots. There are some downed trees to climb over, and dry leaves and loose gravel can make the trail slippery in places, even when dry.
The inner loop trail is half a mile, blazed in orange. A trail loops around the pond as well. Many spurs exist.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Open dawn to dusk.
- A private home is within the park’s boundaries. Be respectful of the owner’s privacy.
- Picnic tables are at the trailhead and some benches along the trail, but there are no trash receptacles or restrooms. Pack out whatever you pack in.
- Leashed dogs welcome. Owners must pick up and carry out waste.
- No hunting. Catch-and-release fishing permitted with Pennsylvania license in season.
- No ATVs, motorized vehicles or trail bikes allowed on trails.
Mount Nebo hiking: Far away, close to home
By Carol Hillestad
A simple path of crushed grey stone leads from the parking area of Mount Nebo Regional Park, in Smithfield Township. A low footbridge spans a brook, nearly dry at this time of year. Beyond the bridge, standing in front of a thicket of barberry, Robin Anglemyer is waiting for me.
Robin is a plant maven — aka landscape designer/horticulturist — with Strauser Nature’s Helpers. Her specialty is plants native to the Poconos.
“Smithfield Township asked us to add interest to the entrance to the park and its trails,” Robin said as we walked. The plan includes native wildflower meadows, new flowering dogwoods, and native trees and shrubs to draw attention to the park’s signs. “Benches, too, and grills for picnickers, to welcome people to spend time in this peaceful place,” she added.
Jointly owned by Middle Smithfield and Smithfield townships, this 159-acre park straddles a ridge between the Shawnee and Marshalls creeks, and gives thousands of residents of nearby developments access to recreation and green views.
A five-minute walk downhill, through a stand of hemlocks, brings us to a large pond, cradled in a basin of rock. Two mallards scoot away, frogs plop into the water, and a half-dozen turtles bask on a sunny log. Skirting the pond’s bedrock “beach,” we hear an ovenbird’s “teacher-teacher-teacher” song, a male yellowthroat warbling, and the drumming of a pileated woodpecker.
The outer loop trail is wide and clearly marked with white blazes. After leaving the pond, the trail heads steeply downhill, following the contours of the ridge. In spring, the woods glow with flowering natives such as shadbush and white dogwood, and glimpses of developments are caught through leafless trees. In summer, it is a shady walk, the light is leafy green — and the woods seem endless, with civilization far away.
A short spur off the trail cuts through low-bush blueberries and patches of reindeer moss to a rocky outcropping. The land drops steeply away to Route 209. The Mount Nebo ridge sheds water west toward Marshalls Creek and east toward Shawnee Creek. Eventually, the two creeks join the broad, beautiful Delaware River. The conserved land of Mount Nebo Park protects and purifies water on its way to becoming drinking water for millions of people, right here and far downstream.
Back on the main trail, Robin returns to the trailhead to meet a colleague. I continue around the base of the ridge, with many ups and downs and long views through the trees across the Delaware into New Jersey. A power line cut opens up even more views on my way back to the trailhead.
In a little over an hour, I’ve see a porcupine-chewed tree and fox scat, lots of birds and leafy views, a musclewood tree, birch, cherry and chestnut oaks. You would never know that all this peace and natural beauty could be found a few miles from the busy world of Route 209 and hundreds of businesses and homes.
But now that you know — see you on the trail!
Carol Hillestad is a hike leader and writer for Get Outdoors Poconos, a grant-funded series administered by Brodhead Watershed Association.
Comments from other hikers:
Pat of Stroudsburg: Strolled the outer loop today. Simply glorious day. Oodles of mushrooms/fungi all along the trail. The blueberries were still green; the raspberries are almost ripe. Thanks for introducing me to such an awesome place so close to home!