For an autumn adventure set ablaze in brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows, escape the city and venture to the Pocono Mountains for spectacular color paired with small-town charm. Home to more than 120 varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants, the Poconos’ diverse vegetation adds to its fall palette, and three distinct color zones let you catch autumn’s peak all season long. Use the Fall Foliage Forecast to time your visits to these eight charming Poconos’ towns with a focus on maximizing fall color and fun.
Strollable Stroudsburg mixes old Americana flair with a young college town vibe. Whether you’re craving pub fare, Thai, or French cuisine, you’ll find it in Stroudsburg—typically partnered with craft beers and creative cocktails. See fall colors best on a leisurely woodland amble or bike ride along Brodhead Creek’s gravel path. Find tougher riverside trekking in the neighboring Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
2. Delaware Water Gap
The town of Delaware Water Gap is nestled into the national recreation area, where you can hike a section of the Appalachian Trail to get an up-close view of the autumn scenery. The Mount Minsi Trail follows the AT’s white blazes to summit the peak for a stunning overlook of red, yellow, and orange changing leaves. Back in town, enjoy a great meal or catch a weekend jazz performance at the Deer Head Inn.
3. Jim Thorpe
Once called the “Switzerland of America,” the Victorian town of Jim Thorpe did not always bear this former Olympian’s name. Back in its anthracite coal days, Jim Thorpe went by the name of Mauch Chunk—Lenape for Mountain of the Sleeping Bear—and was second only to Niagara Falls as a tourist destination. Today, the town’s popular with outdoor enthusiasts who come to see fall colors by biking, hiking, or paddling. The best time to visit is during weekends in October when the Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival hosts food, crafts, and family fun amidst the autumn leaves.
Stay in charming B&Bs housed in historical millionaire mansions, visit the Country Junction - World’s Largest General Store (seriously), and hop on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway for a gorge tour aboard a 100-year-old vintage diesel coach. For a rails-to-trails excursion, ride The Bike Train to White Haven then cycle back at your own pace to Jim Thorpe on the D&L Rail Trail.
Known as the “Birthplace of the American Railroad,” the first steam locomotive on U.S. commercial tracks came to Honesdale in 1829. Today’s visitors ride these iconic rails on The Stourbridge Line’s Honesdale Express for vistas of the Lackawaxen River dressed in fall colors. Pop into town for fresh eats and full-on autumn adventures during early October’s Harvest and Heritage Days. Hayrides, pumpkin painting, chili taste-offs, and vendor shopping make it a weekend of old-fashioned fall fun. See changing colors up close on bike paths, waterways, and hiking trails in neighboring Prompton State Park.
Set alongside sparkling Lake Wallenpaupack, Hawley features a downtown that shines again thanks to a recent restoration project that refreshed storefront facades. This Pocono Mountains town is a center for the farm-to-table dining scene, outdoor recreation, and arts, and its epicenter is the Mill Market at the Hawley Silk Mill. The market sources specialty eats, drinks, and crafts all from within 200 miles of Lake Wallenpaupack, and boasts an excellent beer garden. Get all the fall feels at the Hawley Harvest Hoedown, a Saturday celebration held in mid-October that includes cider and beer tastings, family activities, crafts, and live music. Use Hawley’s free in-town bike share to cruise from adventure to adventure without ever moving the car.
6. Lake Wallenpaupack
The man-made Lake Wallenpaupack is nicknamed “the Big Lake” for good reason—it covers 5,700 acres with 52 miles of shoreline. Experience fall panoramas with a drive around the lake, stroll along the shoreline trails, or boat cruise on the waters for different leaf perspectives. Spread out at six recreation areas for leaf peeping in peace then wrap up a visit with sunsets views and classic eats at The Dock on Wallenpaupack.
Milford has become a hub for art, film, and outdoor recreation that’s modeled after the big city streetscapes of Philadelphia. Find unexpected boutiques juxtaposed with looming Victorian mansions-turned-bed-and-breakfasts set along the wild Delaware River. Catch independent films amidst fall colors at Milford’s annual Black Bear Film Festival in October. Climb the Knob, a 400-foot bluff that rises above one end of Broad Street and provides a scenic view of the city, or you can explore the neighboring Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area—a turn-of-the-century resort hot-spot that still beckons leaf-peeping adventurers today. For bird’s eye peak and river views, whizz above the varicolored treetops on one of the country’s largest zip lines at Kittatinny Canoes.
Autumn adrenaline adventure is the name of the game in Tannersville, an active town tucked in the heart of the Poconos. Race a friend and soar above the colorful forest on North America’s longest zip-flyers at Camelback Mountain Adventures—reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour. Cross bridges and ascend cargo nets on Camelback's aerial adventure ropes course, or speed down through multi-hued foliage on the mountain coaster or alpine slide. For more relaxed vistas, head to Big Pocono State Park and take the paved road to the top of Camelback Mountain for views stretching to New Jersey and New York.
Written by Jenny Willden for RootsRated Media.