Scenic mountains and forests provide the backdrop for a host of nature-focused activities in the Poconos. Bike across the Pennsylvania terrain, camp under the stars or hike to a towering waterfall. With so many things to do, there is something for everyone, from new adventurers to those looking to take on a challenge.
Bike the Trails
Cyclists of all levels can find the perfect trail in the Pocono Mountains, making it ideal for families. There are over 67,000 acres to explore, with plenty of spots to rest and refuel along the way. Paved roads are generally easiest for beginners and Promised Land State Park offers six and a half miles of them, plus views of the Promised Land Lake. Family members who are more adventurous might opt to venture into the mountain biking trails of Delaware State Forest.
Learn more about the Pocono biking trails ahead of time to plan a biking excursion that suits everyone’s skills and interests. History buffs will enjoy the Switchback Railroad Trail, which offers an 18-mile hard-packed dirt route along the path of the second railroad in the U.S. and the first in Pennsylvania. Advanced riders seeking to perfect their downhill skills might enjoy spending part of their vacation on the jumps and drop offs of Blue Mountain Resort.
The most adventurous in your group might want to take on the challenge of the 32-mile McDade Recreational Trail. If you don’t have a mountain bike, you can rent one before crossing this adventure off your summer adventure bucket list.
Hike and Camp Through the Wilderness
With 2,400 square miles of scenery to explore, the Poconos encompass pristine woodlands, towering waterfalls and plenty of spots to hike and camp. Some of the region’s lakes and rivers are best discovered on foot.
On self-guided hikes along trails and bridges, discover areas such as Bushkill Falls, also known as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania” for its eight waterfalls. Nestled deep in the mountains, the Main Falls feature a drop of approximately 100 feet. An even deeper drop of 300 feet exists between the top of the first falls to the bottom of the lower gorge.
When you’re ready to settle in for the night, camp under the stars and roast marshmallows at a lake front tent site at Tobyhanna State Park. Make reservations early to secure a prime site.
If you enjoy camping but prefer a little more comfort, rest assured that you can find the perfect RV site, cottage or glamping tent among the 41 camping locations. Nestled in an RV at Otter Lake Camp Resort or Mountain Vista Campground, you can even enjoy free Wi-Fi. Those who prefer the ultimate glamping experience might prefer a stay on the private island that’s part of Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. A 20-minute canoe ride takes you to this secluded spot in the middle of the Delaware River.
There are hundreds of miles of streams and thousands of acres of lakes that draw fishing enthusiasts to the region. Look out for trout, bass, stripers and other fish with the family or take a moment to enjoy a moment of seclusion while taking in the serene view.
Plenty of activity takes place at Lake Wallenpaupack, one of the main recreation areas. From shore or on boat, you’ll find some of the best fishing in Pennsylvania here. If you’re new to fishing or simply need more gear for the family, take advantage of the fishing tackle loaner program. With borrowed rods, reels and a stocked tackle box you’ll be fully equipped for the sport.
Enjoy Water Sports
Whether your family prefers to journey on calm lake waters or brave whitewater rapids, you’ll find a water sports adventure that suits your vacation style. Canoe, kayak, raft and paddleboard rentals are offered at many popular spots including Lake Wallenpaupack, Delaware Gap National Recreation Area and Promised Land State Park.
Beyond incredible fishing opportunities, Lake Wallenpaupack offers 13 miles on which to spread out. Paddlers will appreciate being able to stay far from the crowd as they balance themselves while standing on a surfboard. A low impact sport that originated in Hawaii, stand-up paddleboarding is a great way to take in the sights along the water. Some basic instruction will help you get the hang of propelling yourself through the water in a new position.
On a guided Lehigh River rafting trip, there’s even more excitement. Regular dam releases ensure whitewater throughout the season and set the optimal conditions for paddling the rapids. Up to six people fit in the rafts offered by Whitewater Rafting Adventures, ensuring you’ll have plenty of fellow paddlers to help you during the journey.
For a more leisurely ride, sign up for a calm tube trip down the river. Either way you’ll be surrounded by wilderness as you journey along the crystal-clear water.
Ride the Water Slides
While you might not expect to see palm trees and sand in the Pocono Mountains, that’s just what you’ll find at Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, one of the biggest waterparks in Pennsylvania. Experience over 37 slides, rides and attractions that are sure to keep kids occupied and adults feeling like kids again. Rather than standing in line, you can opt for a Speed Pass that allows you to enjoy the Kahuna Lagoon Wave Pool and other activities while reserving your spot for rides like the thrilling 8-story Titan or the relaxing Blue Nile Adventure River.
For a family vacation with multiple adventures, consider taking part in the Big Day Out, which combines hiking, biking and rafting at the Lehigh River, rail trail and other must-see Pocono destinations.
Which Pocono Mountains adventure sounds best to you? Tell us in the comments.