A shimmering blue jewel set in the midst of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Lake Wallenpaupack has enticed vacationers for nearly a century. Created in the 1920s, this 5,700-acre reservoir is the second largest body of water contained entirely within the Commonwealth, offering plenty of space for paddlers and anglers to spread out and enjoy the water. With 52 miles of shoreline, there's lots to discover on land as well!
Flanked by Wayne County to the north and Pike County to the south, Lake Wallenpaupack and the surrounding Lake Region is more than just a water playground. You'll find charming small towns filled with shops, dining and history, like Hawley and Honesdale, located a short distance from the shores. Keep reading to check out eight of the best things to do at the ‘Big Lake.’
Spend a Day on the Water
Whatever summer splash activities are on your dream lake day list, you're sure to find them at Lake Wallenpaupack. Pack a picnic and head for the family-friendly Palmyra Township Public Beach to spend a day swimming and soaking up the sun along the sandy shoreline.
Rather get out in a boat? Paddle the lake in a canoe or kayak, or give stand-up paddleboarding a try. The serene water is ideal for first-time paddleboarders and kid-friendly kayaking trips. With so much acreage to explore, Lake Wallenpaupack has plenty to offer seasoned paddlers as well. Find public launch points at Mangan Cove or pay a small fee at the access areas at Caffrey, Ironwood Point, Ledgedale and Wilsonville.
Local outfitters providing boat rentals, sales and scenic tours are conveniently dotted all along Lake Wallenpaupack's shores. Choose your vessel and take a trip with The Boat Shop in Tafton, Rubber Duckie Boat Rentals in Hawley, or Pocono Action Sports at Lighthouse Harbor Marina in Greentown. From family-friendly patio and pontoon boats to fishing boats to jet skis and high-speed boats perfect for water skiing, you'll find a wide variety of watercraft to captain for the day. Rather let someone else take the wheel? Step aboard a leisurely tour with Wallenpaupack Scenic Boat Tours.
Hit the Trail
Don't feel like getting wet? Explore one of the area’s scenic hiking trails! Stay in sight of the water on the Wallenpaupack Lake Trail, accessible from the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center. The trail traces the lakeshore for about three miles before merging with the half-mile Wallenpaupack Creek Trail. For a longer trek, head to Promised Land State Park about eight miles from the Big Lake. Perched on the Pocono Plateau, the park features nearly 50 miles of paths to wander and two lakes of its own. Hikers can also branch into the extensive trail system in adjacent Delaware State Forest.
Drop a Line
Lake Wallenpaupack is known to harbor exceptionally hefty smallmouth bass, but there are plenty of other types of fish lurking beneath the surface as well, including largemouth bass, yellow perch and channel catfish. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks the lake with walleye, striped bass and brown trout. If you're introducing your youngsters to fishing for the first time, Lake Wallenpaupack is the perfect place to go. Don't forget a valid fishing license is required for anglers 16 years old and up. Short-term tourist permits are available for visitors and can be purchased online. Stop by the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center to take advantage of the free Fishing Tackle Loaner Program.
Explore the Region's Rich History
From the first Native American inhabitants to the early Dutch and English settlers of the 17th century; from the industrialists of the 1850s to the honeymooners of the 1950s, the area surrounding Lake Wallenpaupack has a rich history, and there are many local museums that bring the Poconos past alive for present-day visitors.
With displays in three different locations, the Wallenpaupack Historical Society preserves the history and heritage of the lake and the region. The Wayne County Historical Society has its home base in Honesdale, where the showpiece of the main museum is a reproduction of the Stourbridge Lion which once ran on nearby tracks, the first commercial locomotive operated in the United States. Just north of Hawley, the 16-acre Delaware and Hudson Canal Park showcases the 108-mile engineering marvel that was used in the nineteenth century to transport coal from Pennsylvania to New York, with historical structures to explore like Daniels Farmhouse and Canal Lock 31.
The historic Hawley Silk Mill was built in 1880 and has been re-imagined several times over the years. Today, you can trace the building's past as you browse boutiques and art galleries as well as the cozy Cocoon Coffeehouse & Bakery, located in the building that used to house the cocoons who produced the silk fibers. In White Mills, the Dorflinger Glass Museum highlights another area industry and exhibits the beautiful cut crystal fashioned by the Dorflinger Factory from 1852 until 1921.
Grab a Bite to Eat
When you're starting to feel hungry, there's no need to worry. You'll find different eateries close to the Big Lake all over the map, many offering panoramic views along with delicious dishes.
The Dock on Wallenpaupack was a bustling roadhouse in the 1940s; more than a half-century later, the space is a full-service waterfront restaurant with both indoor seating and deck dining. Part of Silver Birches Resort, a historic property which has graced the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack for nearly a century, the Dock offers everything from surf and turf to brick oven pizza. The Boat House Restaurant in Hawley is another storied lakefront spot. The restaurant originally opened as an ice cream stand in the 1950s and today serves up a range of comfort food classics, like burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Looking for to-go sandwiches and salads? Stop by the Lake Side Deli & Grill to gather supplies for the perfect picnic.
Also in Hawley, Gresham’s Chop House features both indoor and outdoor dining, and a menu loaded with steaks, seafood and traditional Italian fare. Stop by Gresham's Ice Cream Shoppe for a sweet treat after your meal. Eager to sample regional craft beer? Head to the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company. This trendy brewery pours everything from stouts to specialty sours and serves tasty bites to munch like burgers and cheesesteaks.
Go Treasure Hunting
Take a break from the heat and duck out of the sun and into local shops! You'll find hidden gems in abundance in nearby boutiques and antique stores. Start at the nonprofit Wayne Pike Sullivan Antique Dealers Association, which has been fostering appreciation of antiquities and art for over 50 years, regularly hosting antique shows and sales. Pieces of the Past features seasonal decor, vintage toys and tons of hand-picked antiques. Wander through the many different dealer booths filled with unique items at the Hawley Antique Exchange. Located in Lake Ariel, Der Jaeger Unique Arts offers not only antiques and WWII memorabilia but also fine art and porcelain.
Lake Art offers unique home decor, apparel and gifts perfect for finding souvenirs to take that lake vibe home with you. Got a sweet tooth? Penny Lane Candies & Candles in Hawley is teeming with delectable goodies. The boutique also stocks a wide array of candles and other gifts, including toys, cards and award-winning hot sauces.
Find Fun Indoor Things to Do
While classic outdoor activities are a must, there are also lots of fun, out-of-the-box indoor activities near Lake Wallenpaupack to try on a rainy day. Give the latest sports craze a try at Dropshots Pickleball in White Mills. The indoor courts offer a chance to get some exercise no matter what the weather, and clinics and classes are available. Never tried axe throwing? Now's your chance! Pocono Axe Works is a great place for some friendly competition for guests 14 and older. Another great spot for indoor activities near Lake Wallenpaupack, The Wake Zone Indoor Golf and Tap Room offers simulators for practicing your golf swing as well as playing other fun virtual sports.
Wally Lake Fest
Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, August 26-27, 2023, this annual event epitomizes summer on Lake Wallenpaupack, Wally Lake Fest is a celebration highlighting everything that is great about the season. Enjoy lake-based activities, boating demos and watersports, as well as land-based fun including live music performances and open-air markets. There are also plenty of tasty eats at Wally Fest, from BBQ to farm-to-table cuisine.
Is it time to head to the lake yet? These activities are just the beginning. Venture to the surrounding area and nearby towns like Honesdale and Hawley. Find places to visit and things to do near Lake Ariel, just to the northwest of Lake Wallenpaupack, like Claws 'N' Paws Animal Park and Lacawac Sanctuary. Find great accommodations and dining near Lake Wallenpaupack and even more ideas for summer fun in our area as you start planning your getaway!