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Trail information: A 2-mile out-and-back hike on steep and slippery terrain.

Where: In Barrett Township, Pa.

GPS: 75.2843 41.178

Trailhead directions: Take Route 390/191 north into Mountainhome. At the V where the road splits (just before the diner), bear left onto Route 191 North. In one-tenth mile, go left on Monomonock Road, then bear right onto Pleasant Ridge Road. Follow Pleasant Ridge to the end, where you’ll find the gamelands parking area and two yellow gates.

Walk around the first yellow gate. From here the trail leads along the bank of Rattlesnake Creek for about 1/10 mile, and then crosses the creek. There are stepping stones and wood plank, but wet feet are likely. The trail continues uphill from the creek. As you leave the creek behind, the trail is wide and grassy. Though not blazed, the trail is clear and open. After about a mile going uphill, you will come to a grassy “cross road.” Go left here. Follow this trail slightly downhill to a clearing where you’ll see a fire ring. The descent to the falls is a narrow opening on your right.


Finding confidence and more at Rattlesnake Falls

By Carol Hillestad

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

That is Eleanor Roosevelt’s prescription for gaining strength, courage, confidence.

Staring down the long, nearly vertical descent needed to reach the base of Rattlesnake Creek Falls, I wondered whether this was the kind of thing she had in mind.

But we had hiked this far, an uphill climb on a warm day along a grassy road in state gamelands. And despite years of roaming nearby forests, neither science educator Patti O’Keefe nor I had ever seen these falls in person.

Turning back was not an option.

Like so many things in life, what I imagined was scarier than the facts. I planted my hiking pole and slid down to the first landing place. From there, narrow switchbacks made the descent a little easier. The rock walls just inches from my face were dripping with water and thickly carpeted in moss. About halfway down I found two lengths of rope that were anchored along the trail, their knots giving handholds for the last stretch down to flat rocks at the foot of the falls.

Here, the air was cool and misty, full of the sound of rushing water. Rising from wetlands above on the Pocono Plateau at the border of Barrett and Coolbaugh townships, the water cascaded down rock steps to the wide pool at my feet. Towering rock walls surrounded us. It was easy to imagine early peoples gathering here, breathing in the fresh green smells on a summer day, just as we were.

Pure and clean, from here the water curves away downhill. The open forest closes in around the creek, and it flows onward beneath dense arching stands of rhododendron and mountain laurel.

Reaching the bridge at Route 191, Rattlesnake Creek joins Mill Creek in the heart of Mountainhome. Mill Creek — which once provided power for a tannery, wintergreen distillery and sawmill — flows to the Brodhead on its way to the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the way, like creeks throughout Monroe County, this water becomes drinking water — for ourselves and our neighbors in Mountainhome, and then for millions of people downstream. Protecting it, keeping it pure, is just common sense.

After a couple of well-deserved photos, Patti and I climbed back up to the trail. Retracing our steps, we had just over a mile and a half walk – downhill this time. The trail takes us across the creek on stepping stones, then the trailhead is in sight.

Have I gained any strength, courage, or confidence? I’m not sure. But now I do know that I can do this — and I’ll do it again.

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:

SHARON: I enjoyed the hike & the camaraderie with the other hikers as well. I so appreciate the the hikes and that the BWA sponsors these programs. I have been to places in the county that I would never have visited on my own and learned a bit of history as well. Thanks for a great hiking experience!

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