I’m sitting here listening to Parachute by Chris Stapleton in the lounge of one of the coziest AirBnB venues I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. This is Maureen and Tom’s place of course, long term residents of Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania; a small rural town about two hour’s drive East of New York City.
1. Pocono Mountains, an introduction
2. Review of local Airbnb accommodation and activities
3. Review of the Mount Tammany scenic hike
I made the drive out after spending four days in NYC, attending a fantastic wedding and seeing the sites. Why more people don’t escape the hustle and bustle of the city though I really don’t know. Pocono and the surrounding towns, villages and sprawling forests punctuate why I love coming to the States; it’s natural diversity, space and (in 99% of cases) it’s people.
These two epitomize US country hospitality. They’re welcoming, helpful and extremely knowledgeable. On their recommendation I head out for the Mt. Tammany ‘Red Dot’ hike, a medium difficulty route taking you to a picturesque lookout over the Delaware Water Gap. Fueling the walk - a slice of Maureen’s freshly baked apple strudel (duhh) and enough supplies for the day.
Absolute gem of an Airbnb with inclusive home-cooked breakfast and no cleaning fee.
Ended up adding an extra day.
Popular with New Yorkers throughout the year, the Poconos offer a
picturesque escape that's a stone's throw away.
In a rush? No worries. This looped 3.5M route won’t take you longer than 1-2hrs depending on how long you enjoy the views for. Consider also that at the weekends the trail can become extremely busy. Wanna go further? Why not consider extending your challenge by heading out on the famed Appalachian Trail, bisecting the forest on its way up to New England and Maine. As you loop back on the red dot route you’ll see the AT on your right going up the hill. In either case you’ll have to get your hands dirty in places, scrambling over some larger rocks and vegetation.
The Mt Tammany Red Dot route from base to summit and back.
Panoramic New Jersey / Pennsylvania view from the Mt Tammany summit.
The Appalachian Trail stretches 2,181 miles from Georgia to Maine; maybe a little far-fetched on this occasion but still very cool to have experienced a small part of it. The color of the leaves at this time of the year is really something to behold – an altogether brighter and more vivid Autumnal turn that we have back in the UK.
Thinking of what else to do in the Poconos? Look no further than Aquatopia and Kalahari waterparks for some good ol’fashioned slip’n’slidin. The latter is cheaper, but both offer a brilliant day out for the consummate waterpark fan. It’s worth noting also that the Poconos do offer skiing in the Winter months – obviously nowhere near as high or challenging as the Rockies, but great fun nonetheless. Among many other hikes, you can also cycle, raft, take a tour of one of several local vineyards or breweries, as well as experiencing the excellent farmers’ markets and live music nights.
Hungry? Join the locals at The Jubilee Restaurant for a good selection of beers and eats. This place is packed most nights of the week and is a lively hub for the community. Looking for something a little different? Take a ride to The Deer Head Inn – the self-proclaimed ‘oldest continuously running jazz club in the US’. I dropped in on a Thursday jam night and was blown away by the effortless talent of musicians young and old. If, like me, you’re better suited to watching than playing (I always played sport, not music), then enjoy some of the excellent food on offer while chatting to some of the locals.
Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Mountain Resort.
The legendary Deer Head Inn located in historic Delaware Water Gap.
That’s a wrap from the Poconos for now, so turn up your Chris Stapleton playlist, we’re heading onwards to more open Pennsylvania countryside down in Lancaster County.
Highlights and Key Points
*Average daily AirBnB cost: $60-$70 including breakfast.
*Hire car through Avis, Newark Liberty International Airport: good service but book online if you have time!
*Aquatopia waterpark at Camelback Lodge: $59 for the day (cheaper rates available online).
*Local eatery: The Jubilee Restaurant and Bar.
*Music night: The Deer Head Inn (live jazz from Thurs – Sun only).