Stand before a rush of cascading water and feel its mist permeate your skin, easing the sting of sun exposure. Relief is tangible, as your burn gradually gives way to goose-pimpled coolness. And who needs antihistamines when these droplets soothe the itch of bug bites?
You don’t need to travel south of the border to immerse in this tropical locale. Pennsylvania’s answer to Niagara Falls can be found in Bushkill, a Pike County community close to uber-quaint Milford. The famous scenic attraction is 300 acres of sylvan supremacy where a couple miles of bridges, walkways, and hiking trails are interspersed among eight waterfalls. Coves of mosses, ferns, and wild flowers dot the landscape. Ravines scattered with mammoth boulders evoke a primeval era, untouched by humanity. “This place will make you appreciate what our nation’s forests have to offer,” extolls Donna Smith, who serves as General Manager at Bushkill Falls. “A day trip here allows families to commune in a beautifully wooded setting.”
Indeed, the pastoral sanctuary may resemble an artist’s vision leaping off the canvas, but it’s actually the handiwork of Mother Nature’s brushstrokes. Arborists can pay homage in shaded temples of hemlocks and pines. Other trees, including oak, maple, and birch, serve as nesting spots for call of the wild birds. All this, as water gurgles through rifts in rocks, trickling down the clefts to feed awaiting streams.
With a zenith of 1,200 feet above sea level, Bushkill is accessible via a series of steep steps leading to connecting paths. Because of the sometimes sketchy terrain, Smith has a few anecdotes. “Definitely wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Just take your time, and explore casually,” she advises. When sated from traversing the heights of the Main Falls to the valleys of the Lower Gorge, other activities are ready to give you a second wind. Wildlife and Native American exhibits provide an educational contrast to roaming the great outdoors. Fishing, paddleboat, and miniature golf rentals are clustered near the entrance to the Falls, where picnic and grilling pavilions will satisfy hunger pangs brought on by fresh mountain air.
But becoming a gold miner could be the most enriching part of your Bushkill experience. Pick up a bag of “rough” from the gift shop and sift its contents in the sluice, a trough with circulating water. An assortment of gems are magically unearthed, and panners receive a card identifying what they’ve mined. “It’s the perfect souvenir from visiting us,” says Smith.
With so much at hand, you’ll think of Bushkill Falls as a sort of amusement park, minus the flashing neon.
By: Tom Eccleston
Route 209, Bushkill, PA 18324