As autumn descends on the forested Mountains in Pennsylvania the local roadside farm stands fill with pumpkins, squash and festive scarecrows. The Poconos region is just a two-hour drive from both New York City and Philadelphia, making it the perfect weekend destination to get out and enjoy a natural landscape full of romance and whimsy. In the Mountains fall foliage reaches its peak with the rolling hills covered in orange, red, and yellow trees, like a rainbow of cotton candy as far as the eye can see.
Hop aboard the Train
Climb aboard the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a scenic train ride through the beautiful fall foliage following the Lehigh River upstream. Old telegraph poles line the tracks as you peer out into the the rocky hills. Choose between a 1930’s reversible coach seat and an open air car with every seat having a front seat to the surrounding landscape with a cool breeze running across your face.
Hike to the falls
Across the Poconos region there are many hiking trails that lead to waterfalls. The three-tiered Raymondskill Falls is just a short hike down the steep trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Step out onto the wooden platform between the two falls to feel the power of the water beneath your feet and cool mist in your face. These are some of the best waterfalls in the Poconos region.
Relax at the Resort and Explore Skytop’s Many Trails to Wander
The Skytop Lodge is situated on a 5,500-acre property with miles of hiking trails, several streams and large lakes to explore and immerse yourself into the fall foliage. With such expansive grounds, Skytop offers a shuttle to take you between different buildings and trailheads.
Our favorite hike at the Skytop Lodge begins above the Upper Falls. It winds way down over rock scrambles and steep slopes, with an occasional hand rope to help maneuver through the terrain. Along this hike you encounter several unique waterfalls. These falls include the Mini Yosemite Falls, which looks like it came straight out of Yosemite National Park. The wide Indian Falls has an overhanging rock at its edge that makes for a perfect photography spot.
After enjoying the grounds of the resort, head into the main lobby of the historic lodge. There is daily afternoon snack with fresh lemonade and a warm cookie break for all guests, young and old, to feel like a child again. Dinner in the formal Windsor Dining Room or Lakeview Restaurant has a wide range of local delicacies with our favorite being the Poached East Coast Halibut and the New York Strip with fried asparagus. As the sun sets prepare yourself for a cozy nightly bonfire. Everything is provided to create your own toasted s’mores for dessert.
Visit Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe is a small charming town along the Lehigh River. Historic brick buildings and brightly colored edifices line the small historic downtown of Jim Thorpe, with a population under 5,000. There are plenty of small shops, art galleries and souvenir shops to explore on foot. Along the two main streets of the historic center there is plenty to do. Check out the eclectic handmade designs by Maria Loyd at Artisanal Gifts and a free mead tasting at the intimate Stonekeep Meadery.
A Bike Ride To Remember
The city also has a beautiful scenic bike route. It follows the old train tracks down the Lehigh River. There are breathtaking viewpoints of small waterfalls and overlooks on the winding river. Of course endless colorful fall foliage is part of the journey. Rent a bike from Pocono Biking and take the shuttle to the Upper Gorge for a gentle 15-mile downhill ride back into town. The 2- to 3-hour bike ride winds along the river. Often find yourself encased in a tunnel of foliage. There is no rush to finish the ride with ample picnic tables along the route and other photo-worthy stops.
Take a drive
The best way to experience the fall foliage is to get in your car and drive through the countryside. Do not miss out on the many stops you can make along the Delaware Water Gap. The Hialeah Trailhead takes you through the fall foliage along the river and through a variety of landscapes. In the water gap is also the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) where you can get hands on with deer antlers and climb into a replica beaver dam.
Quaint towns with culinary feats
Make your way into Milford where the fresh cookies and cupcakes from Patisserie will draw you in. The homely feel of 403 Broad will keep you for lunch. The restaurant features foods from local farms. The intriguing menu combines two flavors into a new dish like the Pastrami Salmon Bagel and Fried Eggplant Pizza.
Visiting the Poconos felt like walking into a classical painting. Each landscape and every tree seemed perfectly placed for our enjoyment. The fall foliage season brings out the bright colors of the leaves. A warm sun and a cool breeze accents the rustling in the trees. We are ready to go back to witness the slow transition. From dark green leaves, the rich red, orange and yellow hues intensify before they are overtaken by falling snowflakes.
This article is was created in partnership with Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, Pennsylvania.