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February 14, 2022

Woman from Philly hiking club dies in fall at dangerous Pennsylvania trail

The victim, 72, traveled with a group to Glen Onoko Falls on Sunday morning

Accidents Hiking
Philly Hiker Dies Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State Police/Facebook

Pennsylvania State Police responded to the Glen Onoko Falls trail on Sunday, Feb. 13 for a report of a woman who was injured in a fall. The victim, a 72-year-old woman, had traveled to the trail as part of a hiking club from Philadelphia. She was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon. The scene trail was permanently closed to the public in 2019.

A 72-year-old woman was killed Sunday in a hiking accident at Glen Onoko Falls, a popular destination in Carbon County that was permanently closed a few years ago due to a consistent pattern of deadly falls along the scenic trail.

The Pennsylvania State Police Hazleton barracks said troopers were called to the state game lands near Lehigh Gorge State Park in Lehigh Township around 10:30 a.m. for a report of a fall. At the scene, troopers found first responders carrying the victim down a slope described as "treacherous, steep, ice-covered terrain" in the area of the first waterfalls. 

Investigators determined the unidentified victim was a member of the Philadelphia Korean Hiking Club, which had chartered a bus carrying 22 people to visit the Glen Onoko Falls trail. 

The rocky and slippery trail was permanently closed in 2019 after authorities reviewed at least 10 deaths that happened there since the 1970's, in addition to frequent rescues that required high-risk work from volunteer crews.

The Jim Thorpe Fire Department, Lehighton EMS, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and staff from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources were all at the scene on Sunday morning. The victim was transported to St. Luke's Hospital — Carbon Campus, where she was pronounced dead, troopers said.

The dangerous portion of the trail, located on state game lands next to Lehigh Gorge State Park, has been monitored by the Game Commission for years. The trail was closed, in part, because the Game Commission's focus is wildlife and wardens are not equipped to oversee hiking activities.

Although game wardens have been given police powers to issue citations for hiking, including fines of up to $200, hikers have continued to make journeys to the trail to see the waterfalls. A split rail fence was installed at the trail entrance as well as signs indicating it is closed, but officials are still hoping to get the word out about the dangers of the area and the rules prohibiting hiking.

State police said an investigation into Sunday's incident remains ongoing.