Just two hours from New York City and Philadelphia, the Poconos Mountains provides travelers a retreat from the urban scene. Spanning more than 2,400 square miles, the name of this northern Pennsylvania region comes from the Lenape word “Pocohanne,” which means “a stream between mountains.” You’ll find more than streams; the region is bordered by the Delaware River, filled with forests, and has nine state parks, 19 waterfalls and 150 lakes.
Strap on your hiking boots and explore the 127 tree, shrub and plant varieties as they burst into fiery colors in autumn and bloom new life into the region during spring. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail or up to Bushkill Falls (above), a series of eight waterfalls that’s known as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania.” A variety of trails will lead you to incredible views and lookouts such as that of Bridal Veil Falls, three waterfalls that plunge down the mountain and look like a bride’s veil.
With a seemingly endless amount of activities, spend one day canoeing, biking, fishing or horseback riding in Cook Forest, home to some of the tallest tree species in the Northeastern United States. Or make a memorable splash while white-water rafting in Lehigh Gorge State Park or boating in Promised Land State Park.
For those planning winter escapes, discover more than 185 slopes and trails. Go skiing, snowboarding, or rent snowshoes and venture out into the powdery winter wonderland by foot. For a faster pace, go snow tubing, dog sledding or snowmobiling. Plan a little romance with a horse-drawn carriage sleigh ride at Pocono Manor Stables.
After you’ve had your fill of outdoor recreation, explore one of the quaint towns for a dose of culture and history. Visit historic Jim Thorpe, founded as Mauch Chunk in 1818. Spend the day shopping as you stroll through this Victorian town situated in the lovely Lehigh Gorge Valley. Stop in at the Old Jail Museum, tour the Asa Packer and Harry Packer mansions or visit the nearby No. 9 Coal and Mine Museum, which calls itself the world’s oldest continuously operating anthracite coal mine.
No matter the season, the Poconos are full of natural beauty, history and charm.
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