Looking for the perfect trip to the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania? How does it sound to take a vintage style train ride through the mountains, visit a quaint local town, and have a picnic at a state park? If this seems like a lovely way to spend time in the Poconos, then this itinerary is just for you! Perfect for a day excursion full of fun, particularly in the fall (when it’s too late for white water rafting and too early for skiing)
I lived near Philadelphia until I was 21 years old and yet I had never visited the Poconos Mountains! It’s really quite a crime considering they are only about a two hour drive away from my house and about an hour and a half from Philly.
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
I was so excited when I came across such a fun thing to do in the Poconos. Definitely a one of a kind experience, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway offers a lovely 16 mile ride through the Lehigh Gorge State Park. It is exceptionally beautiful in the autumn with the changing leaves. You can see the forest, the river, waterfalls, and even possibly some bears!
An old fashioned steam engine (with the traditional tooting of the horn) will tug tug through the historic area and beautiful scenery. Conductors in perfect uniform will give fun facts about the area. They offer open air coaches, standard coach, and you can even ride in the caboose!
Costing only about $17 per person, it’d definitely worth the ride and experience. And the best part of all is that they are pet friendly! We were so happy to be able to bring our puppy along with us (she also made the pictures much much cuter!)
If you’re looking for a longer train excursion, they do offer full day trip and half day trips for those interested. The trains run every day, multiple times per day, and all year round. Consider getting your tickets in advance though as it is quite the popular tourist attraction! There will most likely be many people visiting with you, especially in the autumn when everyone is eager to see the changing leaves.
Jim Thorpe Town
The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway is located within the town of Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe is The town is cute and quaint with local shops of all sorts and unqique places to eat. With its beautiful buildings, stunning views of the mountains, and old american town vibes, it’s certainly a fun place to walk around and explore. Buy some local donuts or handmade household items to keep as memorabilia before you head out of this fun place.
Lehigh Gorge State Park – Picnic
Although there are certainly many nice places to eat within the town of Jim Thorpe, we decided to pack a picnic for our day trip. As much as I love my cute coffee shops, nothing tops a picnic!
After our train ride and explorations through the town, we had to find the perfect picnic spot. There were so many options of beautiful places around – Lake Harmony, Mauch Chunk Lake Park, and the one we decided upon – Lehigh Gorge State Park.
This is the same park that we took our scenic train ride through, but as it’s quite large (over 6,000 acres) we decided to explore more of it on foot.
There were countless hiking trails, views of the river gorge, and interesting things to see at this park, but we had our minds on one thing-the perfect picnic spot. If you’re looking for the most beautiful hike, the Tank Hollow Vista is the perfect option- a short and simple hike with stunning views!
We found the perfect picnic table, with views of the changing leaves and a little trail leading to the river. Setting up the picnic, we took out our picnic blanket – my grandmother’s that you passed down generation after generation (was even used to swaddle my mom when she was a baby) and my grandmother’s picnic basket and thermos.
We took out our goodies and enjoyed our meal with a view of the forest on one side and the occasional passing train on the other.
When sunset time came around, the already beautiful fall leaves all turned golden with the setting sun. It was the perfect way to end the day!
When to Visit the Poconos
Although the Poconos are most famous for their skiing options, there are so many things to do there year-round. Endless hikes, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway runs all year, horseback riding, white water rafting, visiting the quaint old American towns, and more! Of course in the autumn, the leaves in the forests turn majestic and colorful, but the waterfalls and rivers are stunning year-round. Whenever you choose to visit, there are countless things to do. For a day trip EXACTLY like mine, I would recommend visiting in October or November when the changing leaves are at their finest.
Tips for Visiting the Poconos Mountains
- Wildlife– It’s important to remember that you are going up into the mountains of Pennsylvania. Much of this area is filled with untouched wildlife. It’s quite common to see snakes, bears, deer, and much more. Although they tend not to bother people, always be aware.
- Hunting Grounds– Much of the Lehigh Gorge State Park is also state game land/hunting grounds. Depending on the season, it’s probably a good idea to check if there may be hunters out if you’re going for a hike in the mountains.
- Insects– Pennsylvania is one of the top areas in the country that is endemic with deer ticks that carry a variety of diseases including Lyme Disease. BE SURE TO BRING STRONG BUG SPRAY. Especially if you are going hiking, it’s important to check yourself for bug bites after going out in the woods, particularly to make sure that no tick has managed to attach itself to you. Of course there are mosquitos and other biting insects as well, but the ticks are the biggest and most dangerous threat in Pennsylvania.
- Cost– most of the park entrances are free, so many activities can be done without a cost whatsoever. The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway costs about $17 per person.
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters