South Loop Thunder Swamp Trail is a 18.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Dingmans Ferry, PA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.
Solitude, swamps, heavy deciduous forest, blueberries, raspberries The map I posted shows the route taken on the second day of a two-day backpacking trip. The first day's route is marked in blue, the second day's route is marked in yellow, and side trails are marked in red. Solitude is the key word here. During a sunny Sunday in July, my brother and I saw no other humans in the forest, save for a lone ATV rider near the trail to Lake Minisink. This may be due to the alternately swampy/rocky conditions of the trail, or the abundance of mosquitoes, black flies, and deer ticks. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the feeling of isolation. The wild blueberries were plentiful and delicious, and I sampled the first ripe raspberries of the season as well. The low-lying vegetation grows so quickly in the damp soil, that any trail maintenance is all but obscured by mid-July. Luckily the route is well blazed in orange. I look forward to returning in the autumn when the heavy deciduous forest becomes brilliant with color.
Hiked the entire Thunder Swamp Trail, including the loop around Big Bear Swamp, as a 2 1/8 day backpack. Parked at the main trailhead on Rt. 402 and began hike counterclockwise. Lovely at first, especially beside Red Rock Run. Got really ugly for quite a stretch...nothing but dead hardwoods and rocks. Set up tent at the south end of Painter Swamp, which was lovely. Slack packed around Big Bear Swamp loop before dinner. Saw one person all day - a backpacker going the opposite way. The beavers came out in the swamp in the evening - great camp site. About 17 miles for Day 1.
Day 2: Left camp at 9:30 for the western part of the hike. Part was pretty, but most had tons of dead hardwoods and was really overgrown. Ticks galore. Camped in the low area near the Bushkill where there were loons on the river. Drizzled on and off all day. Saw no one. About 12 miles for Day 2.
Day 3: Left camp at 7:30 and returned to car before 9. Saw no one. About 3 miles.
Overall: Trail is well blazed but almost unmaintained in many sections. Little elevation change, but still not easy because of the rocks and the bush-whacking. Very little foot traffic.
Hike is described in Backpacking Pennsylvania, by Jeff Mitchell.
Wet in many places (Of course. It's a "swamp" hike), and (to be expected) rocky foot path. Very little elevation changes. Some sections very well maintained. Other places it's a jungle, especially just west of the northern intersection with Rt 402.