As the calendar turns, the colors of autumn aren’t far behind. They can be found within two hours of home in the expansive Pocono Mountains. Lakefront cottages and wooded hideaways make this the ideal setting for a brisk fall mountain getaway, and pristine streams and lakes enclosed by deep woods and laurel glades still shelter Pennsylvania’s varied wildlife. Here’s where to find it all. – Jay Lloyd
Hawley, PA 18428
Lake Wallenpaupack came to life in the 1920s as a manmade marvel in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. At over 13 miles long, it’s a virtual treasure for people who enjoy fishing, nature walks, sailing and just relaxing at the cottages planted on 52 miles of coastline. The lake was launched and maintained by PPL, the Pennsylvania utility that has diligently guarded the natural beauty of the region with the creation of nature trails and wildlife refuges. Lake Wallenpaupack is an ideal Pocono Mountain base to explore the changing seasons.
WHERE TO STAY
I enjoy the old style comfort of the WOODLOCH RESORT. It’s a constant reminder that the family-style resort of the 1940s and 50s is still alive and well. In addition to its own lake, water sports, golf and all the amenities expected of a full-scale resort, guests can enjoy the old tradition of dining “family style” as heaping platters of meat, seafood and vegetables are passed around the table. Most guests choose the “American Plan,” which includes all meals–a rarity these days. Fall rates start at about $170 per adult, with children under 6 staying and eating for free.
For a family getaway in a more rustic setting that includes catching and cooking your own meals and spending nights on the porch with a view of the moonlit lake, look up LAKESIDE COUNTRY COTTAGES. A family cottage with an area to launch your own kayaks and fishing boats and adjacent to hiking trails is an ideal setting for kids to find their own way in the world of nature. Weekend cottage rentals clock in at under $400.
Bringing a pet? The COMFORT INN at Lake Ariel within a few miles of Lake Wallenpaupack is an economical overnight stop that is pet-friendly, too. Close to many Pocono attractions and scenic drives, the hotel offers rooms for as low as $99 per night with a $15 additional charge for each pet. Because pet-friendly rooms are limited, it’s best to call ahead: 570-689-4148.
WHERE TO EAT
Ehrhardts is a lakefront restaurant that’s part of a larger resort and has been a family favorite for decades. The draw is the traditional comfort food that has defined the Pocono Mountains environment. How many places are going to offer Yankee Pot Roast and a turkey platter on the same menu for under $15?
Boathouse is located on the lake, so you can actually dock your rental boat and stroll up to the outdoor bar for a drink and some munchies at happy hour. The menu spans the food chain from fresh fish to steaks and chops, with most meals in the low-to-mid-$20’s price range. You’ll find weekend entertainment as well, and the whole shebang is run by the same family that operates the Woodloch Resort.
Gresham’s Chop House
A lakefront view and a menu with Italian flare is a signal that you’ve arrived at Gresham’s Chop House. This is a family run affair that meanders between tender grilled steaks and the osso bucco that helps give it that Italian spin. The steaks top out at about $27 for an 8 oz. filet. A traditional favorite of pasta and meatballs in a robust red sauce rings up at $14.
PPL’s Environment Learning Center
The center, set just off Route 6 on Lake Wallenpaupack, offers nature trails, wildlife preserves and nature studies. The environmental center is ideal for kids and adults that want to explore the changing seasons.
Double W Ranch
The Double W doubles as a ranch and a bed & breakfast, offering accommodations for days of trail rides as well as a full range of equestrian activities. Watch the changing colors of autumn from atop a horse, accompanied by experienced guides and instructors.
Rubber Duckie Boat Rentals
Get around the lake or spend a relaxing time on the water with a rod and reel. Just check in with Rubber Duckie and rent a canoe, a motorized fishing boat or even a jet ski.
Take the Northeast Extension (Route 476) of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Lehigh Valley, Exit 56 Allentown-Bethlehem. Head east on Route 22 for 17 miles to Route 33. Travel Rte 33 North, merging onto I-80 East (Pocono Mts). Continue on I-80/US 209 North to Exit 309 (Marshalls Creek). Take 209 North to Rte 402 North. Turn left onto Rte 6 West, traveling approximately 15 minutes to the town of Hawley.