DELAWARE TWP., Pa. - It's the journey, not the destination, but what if it were both? What if the way to get there was beautiful? A place where you can hear it before you see it, and then around the bend, it takes your breath away.
"It's the second tallest waterfall in the state of Pennsylvania, at 130 feet, and it's flowing beautifully today," said National Park Service Ranger Kathleen Sandt, describing Dingmans Falls in Pike County.
It's part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and a boardwalk trail leads you to it, but before you get to this one, there's another.
Almost as soon as you start out, you'll come upon the aptly named Silverthread Falls.
"It looks like a white or silver thread of water," Sandt explained. "Sometimes in the summer, it is literally just a single thread of water that's coming down from the top."
Tumbling down 80 feet, Silverthread Falls is smaller than Dingmans Falls, and the rock edges are so square, they seem hand-carved.
"It's just the way the rock fractures in rows," Sandt said. "This is all natural the way the rocks look here, no human hands."
No water wheels, just nature. You only need to go a little farther in through a hemlock ravine to see Dingmans.
You can take in the beauty from all sides. The last tenth of a mile, 250 stairs lead to an observation platform on top, where you can look back down and see where you've been.
It's a view folks have been enjoying since the 1890s. Back then, the falls were privately owned. It cost 10 cents to see them. Today, as part of the National Park Service, the natural wonder is free.
"All of us are the owners and the caretakers and the stewards of this place, and each one of them can make a difference," Sandt said.
The water comes from lakes on top of the Pocono Plateau, and at one time used to power mills in the area. The falls flow into Dingmans Creek, which runs into the Delaware River.
In the shade of the hemlock trees, there's a breeze. On the hottest days, it's still one of the coolest places to visit.
"And depending on where you are standing, sometimes you even get that spray that gets you damp when you are standing at the end of the boardwalk," Sandt said.
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