Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains region is one of the most spectacular places on the East Coast. The scenery here is worthy of a picture postcard, from orange-red sunsets over the Delaware Water Gap to Bushkill Falls – sometimes called the “Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania” – and the snow-covered slopes of Shawnee Mountain. Nearly every drive here is magical, especially if you veer into the area’s many charming towns and villages.
If you’re nervous about straying too far from civilization on your vacay, don’t worry. Here are three well-traveled paths that still offer close-up views of the area’s frosty winter landscapes and colorful fall foliage.
Journey to the Promised Land
While many guests choose to hike the nature trails at Skytop Lodge, the 5,500-acre property can be daunting for those who want to see it all. Luckily, several of the resort’s major trails are also open to vehicle traffic. Take the old Skytop Mountain Road from the parking lot up Skytop (East) mountain, where you’ll find views of the onsite lake and lodge. From the summit, travelers can often spot Shawnee Mountain on the horizon. Back on 390, there’s a choose-your-own-adventure junction. Veer right along Goose Pond Road and you’ll get a peek at a trail through marshes and blueberry blogs, where locals once mined peat for fuel. Beeline to the left instead and head past the Skytop Adventure Course for a scenic cruise on Promised Land Road up to Promised Land State Park, a 3,000-acre natural habitat that’s home to bald eagle habitats and fishing lakes. This drive is best enjoyed in fall, when the oaks and maples burst into shades of gold and red.
The Winter Wonderland Circle
After finding inspiration in a local city park, Honesdale resident Richard B. Smith wrote the lyrics to the iconic holiday tune “Winter Wonderland.” So, it’s no wonder that one of the area’s most majestic winter drives takes guests from the heart of his hometown through the Pocono Mountains and to the Upper Delaware River. Rhonda & George Ostertag chronicle a 66.3-mile loop to Honesdale and back in their trail book, Scenic Driving Pennsylvania. While you can certainly take PA-652 to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and follow the road back, an alternate drive takes travelers alongside the river at PA-97 and back along the Oregon Turnpike. Take this route and you’ll pass quaint towns, picnic areas, forested lands blanketed in winter snowfall, and a fish hatchery worth visiting in warmer months.
The Falls Route
If you don’t mind a little on-foot action with your scenic drive, Route 209 offers two spectacular waterfalls that make it worth the drive. Start at Dingmans Falls Visitors Center, where trails lead to the 70-foot-high Silver Thread Falls and the center’s namesake, the even higher Dingmans Falls. Continue along 209 about 5 miles to the turnoff for Raymondskill Falls, a 105-foot-tall wall of water that meanders over rocks and into the freshwater stream below. Because this road follows the Delaware River, expect to see migrating birds, native wildlife and woodland forests along the way. Continue onto Hwy 6 for more waterfalls, or make a pit-stop at the quaint village of Milford, PA, where you’ll find streets lined with antique shops and eateries, plus historical sites such as the Columns Museum (home to the famous “Lincoln flag”) and Grey Towers.
Head back to Skytop Lodge after dark for a scenic dinner overlooking the onsite lake at the luxury resort’s signature eatery, Lakeview Restaurant. Whether you plan to stick nearby or you’re up for a driving adventure, our concierge can help plan a vacation itinerary that’ll get your engine revving. Contact us online or at 855-345-7759 to book your stay.