Stairway Wild Area encompasses 2,882 acres in Pike County, Pennsylvania and is managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Bureau of Forestry. Stairway Wild Area is bordered on the west by State Game Lands 209 and Buckhorn Natural Area. The Delaware River forms the northern border of Stairway Wild Area and the border between Pennsylvania and New York.
Stairway Wild Area is diverse with extensive dry oak ridge tops, pine and mountain laurel and also the blueberry, hemlock wetlands that provide excellent habitat for wetland species such as snowshoe hare and black bear. The ridge tops are dotted with large bluestone outcroppings.
Visitors will see remnants of the old quarries of John Kilgour and the Pennsylvania Bluestone Company, that serve as silent reminders of the once thriving bluestone industry in the region before the turn of the 20th Century. If you look closely, you can still see the tool marks on many of the quarry walls where men tirelessly worked. Along with the quarries, there are still remnants of the roads that were used to transport the bluestone from the quarries to the rail line or canal that flanked the edges of the Delaware River. Once off the mountain, the bluestone would be loaded onto the Erie Railroad, the Delaware and Hudson Canal or a river raft for shipment throughout the northeast. The bluestone was used for everything from sidewalks to the construction of buildings.
Stairway Wild Area offers a whole host of recreational opportunities throughout the year. Visitors can hike, hunt, fish, camp and partake in many other activities.
Campsites are available at Stairway Lake and along the Delaware River. Permits are required to camp at Stairway Lake and they can be obtained from the Delaware State Forest. Camping permits are also required for the sites on the river and they can be acquired from the National Park Service Upper Delaware River Scenic and Recreational River office. The campsites along the river provide are a great place to spend a night during a multi-day float trip. Camping permits are free.
Stairway Lake offers anglers the opportunity to catch a variety of species of panfish and largemouth bass. The Bushkill Creek that originates in the Buckhorn Natural Area and flows into Stairway contains native populations of brook trout. Fisherman that make their way down to the Delaware River, can find smallmouth and largemouth bass, striped bass, brown trout, walleye, catfish and many other species.
Hunters in Stairway Wild Area commonly pursue white-tailed deer and black bear. Other game species, such as grouse and snowshoe hare, can also be found. Stairway Lake and the Delaware River also provide an opportunity for waterfowl hunters. Hunters should expect to encounter wood ducks in the fall and various species of diver ducks on the river in the winter.
During the winter months, visitors who make the hike down to the Delaware, have a good chance at viewing bald eagles. In the winter, eagles flock to the Upper Delaware in search of fish. The Upper Delaware generally does not freeze over, and the open water affords the birds excellent hunting opportunities.
Stairway Wild Area is open to public access year round. However, winter weather conditions may influence the ease and accessibility of parts of the site.
Stairway Wild Area is open to public access, free of charge. Camping permits are also available at no cost.
The easiest ways to access Stairway Wild Area by foot are from the State Forest parking areas located along Cummings Hill Road. Visitors can park at the Boundary Trail head and hike into the heart of Stairway Wild Area.
Stairway Wild Area can also be accessed by utilizing the Delaware River. Canoers and rafters can land their crafts along the banks of the Delaware River in the Wild Area.