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DE Water Gap: great for deer and turkey, unfriendly to dogs

We’ve been heading out to the Poconos and Delaware Water Gap part of PA recently with our two beagles, Moxie and Huckleberrry. The animal tourism has been great, but oddly this underused mountain region just 2 hours from New York City has thrown up a lot of inexplicable barriers to families with dogs.

The wildlife watching here is fun, though the species are all pretty common. We rented a house in one of Bushkill’s many windy road developments and saw plenty of deer families–includge many pairs of twin fawns, wild turkey, songbirds, squirrels, crows and geese. On a path through the National Recreation Area, we also saw a turtle, blue birds, hawks and tiny broken egg that perhaps came from a hummingbird.

But! We had a really hard time getting to enjoy the National Recreation area because so many of its main attractions are totally off limits to dogs and their people.

The National Parks Service lists all the places dogs can’t go here: the 2 beaches (Smithfield Beach and Milford Beach); the three big waterfalls (Raymondskill, Dingmans or Hackers) or half the visitors centers. Even parts of the 40-mile McDade Trail are off limits to dogs.

Hunters are banned from roughly the same areas. Of course, Moxie and Huck aren’t packing, so I don’t really see what risk the pose.

If you happen to be traveling with a dog, to get to see a waterfall in the Delaware Water Gap Falls you’ll have to go to the private, but much friendlier Bushkill Falls.

Charles E. Peters and his descendants have been running the waterfall-trail concession since 1904. Because dogs are banned from much of the park, you’ll see a lot of them here. When we first entered (tickets are $11), the woman taking the ticket told us “We love dogs here” and gave each off our dogs biscuits.

It’s got the old-timey tourist kitch. Huck was fascinated with a giant chipmunk statue; the taxidermy enthralled Moxie. I loved how they put up all these warnings that make some trails sound like you’re hiking K2. It’s like putting smaller sizes on big dresses; it may be an exaggeration, but since I was able to do it 7 months pregnant, it made me feel great.


deer Where to SEE DEER (and anteloope and reindeer)


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1 comment to DE Water Gap: great for deer and turkey, unfriendly to dogs

  • Gary

    Hi. Just came back from my vacation to Delaware Water Gap with my older beagle. Yes, the area CAN be unfriendly to dogs but have taken my old gal to Raymondskill Falls & Childs Falls anyhow with no problems because there doesn’t appear to be any staff to enforce it. Just the occasional child with parent who might say something because signs do show “No Dogs.” Encountered several dogs at Bushkill but didn’t take my beagle who would have had too much trouble at her age now with all the stairs. Had a disappointing day trip to out to White Mills & the Glass Museum which advertise beautiful trails/grounds but not until you get there does one find the “No Dogs” sign when entering the property which is a real shame since the original owners seemed to love them with dogs of their own. I tubed with my gal with Kittatinny Outfitters whose staff helped me find a plastic bin to stick firmly in the hole of the tube which we then filled in with extra life vests – but only got away with it since it was a slow midweek day & there were no others in the transport van who could have objected.