Check back July 29, 2021 when this blog will be updated! In Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, scenic views are abundant. The region’s cascading waterfalls, majestic peaks, and vast woodlands have enchanted visitors for centuries. There are no shortage of spectacular natural wonders to explore, but when it comes to must-see panoramic views in the Poconos, we’ve narrowed down a few of the standouts below. Some are harder to reach than others, but all are worthy of a visit, a photo, and, most certainly, some time to absorb the beauty.
At the summit of Camelback Mountain, Big Pocono State Park gives you the chance to see three states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The unique scrub oak shrubland blanketing the summit is devoid of tall trees, which opens up sweeping, wide-open views from the mountaintop. A 1.5-mile scenic driving loop circling the summit treats visitors to expansive vistas of the Pocono escarpment, while for hikers, the park features 8.5 miles of picturesque trails.
Another option is the 1.3-mile Indian Trail, where you can gaze out from the eastern slopes of Camelback Mountain.
2. Bushkill Falls
One of the most storied cascades in the Poconos is Bushkill Falls, which has earned its nickname as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania”. The magnificent natural wonder offers visitors the chance to admire eight different waterfalls spread over 300 acres of leafy woodlands.
Each of the location’s waterfalls has a distinct flavor, and a network of trails, bridges, and viewing platforms providing visitors with a variety of perspectives, which is especially ideal for photographers. Bridal Veil Falls, the main waterfall, is the largest, rising to a height of nearly 100 feet, with water plunging more than 300 feet to a gorge below.
3. Lehigh Gorge Trail
Soak up views of the Pocono Plateau, the Lehigh Gorge, and the photogenic Lehigh River—all from the extensive Lehigh Gorge Trail. Following the path of the Lehigh River, the 26-mile recreation trail rambles through Lehigh Gorge State Park, stretching from the Francis E. Walter Dam to the town of Jim Thorpe. The multi-use trail also offers access to some of the region’s most enchanting waterfalls and the chance to spot wildlife, including the great blue heron and fence lizards.
The recreational thoroughfare also provides hikers, bikers, and runners a glimpse of the region’s industrial past. The trail itself is actually an abandoned railroad grade and still showcases some of the historic remains of the Grand Section of the Lehigh Canal, an elaborate network of locks and dams once used to transport coal out of the region to markets farther downriver.
4. Skytop Lodge
Perched majestically on the wooded slopes of West Mountain, the aptly named Skytop Lodge provides generous views of Skytop Lake and the surrounding region. The lofty location was selected specifically to provide grand views of the Poconos, and the Dutch-colonial style lodge, a AAA Four Diamond-Rated property, has been welcoming guests since 1928. The resort was expanded in 1930, and today the 5,500-acre property is loaded with amenities, including a golf course, aerial adventure center, and a rock climbing wall. Guests also have access to nearly 30 miles of trails, and for birders and wildlife enthusiasts, the lodge offers interpretive walks led by onsite naturalists.
5. Tank Hollow Vista
Just outside the historic town of Jim Thorpe, the Tank Hollow Vista is a hidden gem. The craggy overlook is tucked away in the woodlands blanketing State Game Land 141, a mountainous parcel of land overlooking the Lehigh River. The overlook is at the end of a 1.75-mile hike (the entire trail is 3.5 miles out-and-back) and elevation gain is minimal. At the end of the trek, hikers are treated to views of a beautiful horseshoe bend in the Lehigh River. The rocky outcrop is also an ideal picnic spot for visitors hoping to savor the view a little longer.
6. Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River
Added to America’s National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1978, the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River is an exceptionally picturesque waterway. Extending from Hancock, New York to just outside Mill Rift, Pennsylvania, the 73-mile stretch of water meanders through a landscape seemingly unaltered for decades.
Although agriculture and timber were major drivers of the region’s economic development, a significant portion of former farmlands alongside the river have become forest once again. Wildlife is abundant, too: The waters are loaded with rainbow trout, walleye, and American shad, and the Delaware River watershed also accommodates the biggest population of wintering bald eagles in the northeastern part of the country.
The longest free-flowing river in the Northeast, the Upper Delaware is also popular with paddlers, and the river-running season typically extends from the middle of April until October. For outdoor lovers, both the New York and Pennsylvania sides are scattered with access points, spaced from three miles to 20 miles apart.
7. Mount Minsi
Located near the town of Delaware Water Gap, 1,460-foot Mount Minsi forms the Pennsylvania portion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the easternmost extent of Blue Mountain. Accessible from a handful of routes, including the Appalachian Trail and the Mount Minsi Fire Road, the peak provides a vantage point of the natural wonder dubbed the Delaware Water Gap.
However, hikers should note that within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the cliffs on Mount Minsi (from Point of Gap parking lot to Arrow Island parking lot and from the west shoulder of Route 611 to the top of the ridge) are temporarily off-limits during the nesting and fledging periods for the peregrine falcons inhabiting the area.
8. Hickory Run State Park
Just north of the town of Jim Thorpe in the western foothills of the Poconos, Hickory Run State Park is a portal to a wide array of adventures. The nearly 16,000-acre park offers access to 44 miles of trails, with plenty of panoramic spots providing postcard-worthy vistas of the surrounding landscape.
The Fireline Trail provides unsurpassed views of the Lehigh Gorge, while aptly named Skyline Trail offers stunning glimpses of the Lehigh River (and eventually merges with the Fireline Trail). Beyond the picturesque panoramas, the massive Boulder Field in the northeastern part of the park is a geological wonder, distinguished as a National Natural Landmark. And don’t miss the 25-foot Hawk Falls off the trail of the same name.
Written by Malee Baker Oot for Matcha.