Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- During Prohibition, Poconos resorts did not permit golf, tennis or other sports on Sundays.
- Honesdale-born Richard B. Smith wrote the lyrics for “Winter Wonderland” (1930s).
- Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe was the inspiration for Disney World’s Haunted Mansion.
- The first American railroad line was built between Summit Hill and Jim Thorpe (1827).
- Big Boulder Ski Area, using equipment invented by a staffer, was the first area to make snow for skiing (1956).
Sunbathing, or golf on the ice?
Four counties hugging the northeast corner of Pennsylvania encompass the Pocono Mountains, better known as the Poconos and quite well known as a year-round resort area. The region is abundantly supplied with natural features — rivers, lakes, forests and, of course, the mountains — that call out to active travelers and even to the less active who nevertheless love the outdoors.
The 2,400-square-mile area has 150 lakes, 170 river miles and 19 waterfalls. There are nine state parks and two national park units. The parks provide recreational opportunities, but resorts, entrepreneurs and local communities enrich the list of offerings.
The largest of the lakes is the 5,600-acre manmade Lake Wallenpaupack, which offers the full range of water-based activities, from fishing, kayaking and sailing to jet skiing and wakeboarding. Other lakes are smaller but offer many of the same diversions, especially the fishing.
The rivers are another order of playground. The really big one, the Delaware, forms Pennsylvania’s entire eastern frontier. The 67,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, wraps around the Delaware River and straddles the Pennsylvania-New Jersey state line. It boasts more than 100 miles of hiking trails.
Indeed, hikers, plus cyclists, are well served with trails throughout the Poconos. Historic canals and rail lines, part of rail-to-trail programs, are part of this. Oh, there are lots of golf courses, too.
In winter, ice fishing and even ice golf are options. For snow sports, there’s everything from snowshoeing to snowboarding, but the centerpiece is skiing at the seven ski resorts. Winter is also the time for some birding, for those interested in eagles.
Poconos towns are small but, among them, promise the boutiques and galleries, museums, annual festivals and restaurants that visitors seek for a well-rounded holiday. Milford, developed by the milling industry, is a center for the arts and music. Jim Thorpe is known for its Victorian architecture. Honesdale was the starting point for the historic Delaware and Hudson Canal. Hawley’s downtown received a makeover thanks to Benjamin Moore’s Main Street Matters Project.
In such towns, housing can include unique B&Bs and inns, as well as bigger, inclusive resorts.
Things to do for Venturers
- See an outfitter and get set for whitewater rafting on the Lehigh or Delaware River. Regular dam releases of water keep the rivers flowing through the season.
- Ride above the trees and water on a zipline. Several companies offer the option.
- At Lake Wallenpaupack, which will it be — parasailing, wakeboarding or waterskiing? Your choice.
- Drive a 600 HP NASCAR Sprint Cup style stock car on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in Blakeslee. It’s the StockCar Racing Experience.
- Take up the challenge, meaning the challenge to hike 50 miles in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The area, which has 100 miles of hiking trails including 27 miles of Appalachian Trail, launched the challenge in 2015 to mark the 50 years since Congress set aside the recreation area.
- In winter, try the ice fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack or on other smaller lakes. Or, compete in the Ice Tee Golf Tournament on Lake Wallenpaupack when it is frozen over.
Things to do for Centrics
- Stay at the Harry Packer Mansion Inn in Jim Thorpe on a Murder Mystery Weekend.
- Whether snowboarding or downhill skiing, there are several places for either. Ditto for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Try one or more, then warm up at one of the area’s winter beer festivals.
- Rent a sailboat and take a few or many turns on Lake Wallenpaupack. Or get closer to the water on a canoe or kayak.
- Watch for big birds here. Look for eagles, especially in January and February. The Upper Delaware and Lackawaxen rivers are major wintering areas for bald and golden eagles.
- See the countryside from a bicycle. Some choices are the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company towpath, the Lehigh Canal Trail and the Switchback Rail Trail.
- Choose your festival and plan around it. Events include Winterfest in Hawley (or other winter fests) and, in summer, the Bluegrass Festival in Newfoundland, Milford Music Festival and the Wine and Food Festival at Lake Harmony.
Things to do for Authentics
- Play golf. There are more than 30 courses to choose from. Then, pamper yourself at one of the local resort spas.
- Get thee to places like Lehigh Gorge State Park and Hickory Run State Park for the fall foliage. Make that visit coincide with the Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival, which offers arts and crafts, entertainment and ethnic foods.
- Go antiquing. Numerous shops translate into numerous choices in several towns.
- Tour the Zane Grey Museum in Lackawaxen, former home of the famed author of western fiction.
- Board the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a scenic 70-minute trip from and back to Jim Thorpe with sightseeing in the Lehigh Gorge State Park, operated May through December.
- Bring your rod, and fish on the lakes, the Delaware River, other rivers or creeks. Opportunities are abundant.
For more information, consult the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau at www.poconomountains.com