There are plenty of reasons to visit the Poconos this winter. The region’s majestic mountains and serene woodlands are even more stunning when blanketed with snow.The Pocono Mountains region receives about 50 inches of snowfall every year, which fuels a wide variety of winter adventures.
You can race down the ski slopes, snowshoe a tranquil woodland trail, or savor the mountain air in a horse-drawn sleigh. The region’s charming towns also have plenty to offer throughout the winter, with holiday festivals, sightseeing tours, and a wide array of special seasonal events. The Poconos is idyllic at any time of year, but here are just a few of the best reasons to plan a trip this winter.
The Poconos is one of the East Coast’s most iconic winter sports destinations. Skiers have flocked to these mountains for more than seven decades. The region’s first ski resort, Big Boulder Ski Area, opened in 1946, and in the 1950s, the art of snow-making was pioneered and perfected in the Poconos.
Today, the area offers more than 155 different ski trails, spread over 636 acres at six different resorts. With 100% snow-making coverage and speedy ski lifts, these resorts make it easy and convenient to savor the slopes. Because the region has a diverse collection of resorts, there are trails for skiers of all abilities, whether you want to warm up on the bunny slopes, make tracks on a black diamond, or tackle a terrain park.
2. Walk Idyllic Towns Dusted with Snow
Under a dusting of snow, the charming towns in the Poconos are especially picturesque and photogenic. Tucked into the mountains, places like Stroudsburg and Jim Thorpe offer a blend of American and European influences that give communities an old-world look and feel. The classic downtown areas, lined with boutiques and eclectic restaurants, make them ideal for a relaxing day of shopping and dining. At the end of the day, you can return to your lodge or inn and get cozy beside a crackling fire. During winter, there are also plenty of seasonal specials on accommodations, dining, and winter activities, making it a perfect time to visit.
3. Enjoy Sleigh Rides in a Winter Wonderland
Snuggle up beneath a cozy blanket and watch the snowflakes fall as you ride through a winter wonderland in a horse-drawn sleigh. At family-owned Daisy Field Farm, visitors are treated to scenic sleigh rides in a private wildlife preserve, offering the chance to spy resident white-tailed deer, red-bellied woodpeckers, and wild turkeys. Once the sleigh ride is over, guides can also arrange a crackling bonfire or a hot dog roast, giving you a little more time to enjoy the crisp winter air.
4. Explore Snowy and Serene Snowshoeing Trails
The Pocono Mountains covers nearly 67,000 acres, providing abundant options for snowshoeing in a serene landscape. Promised Land State Park offers more than 50 miles of trails to explore, winding through beautiful forests of beech, oak, maple, and hemlock. You can also make tracks in adjacent Delaware State Forest, which spans more than 80,000 acres. Snowshoeing is permitted on all roads and trails traversing the state forest.
5. Try World-class Cross-Country Skiing
The Pocono Mountains region is a mecca for cross-country skiers. Seasoned skiers can choose from seven different state parks with designated cross-country trails. Kick and glide through woodlands of Eastern white pine and hemlock on 18 miles of trails at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. Or, head for the 5.1-mile Lakeside Trail at Tobyhanna State Park. You could also explore nine miles of tranquil trails at Beltzville State Park. For stunning views of the Delaware River, the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area also offers cross-country skiing on the 31-mile McDade Recreational Trail.
6. Glide at Spectacular Skating Spots
When the region’s lakes, ponds, and rivers glaze over with ice, there are plenty of scenic spots to ice skate in the Poconos. Lace up your skates and glide over a frozen lake with majestic mountains and snow-glazed woodlands as a backdrop at Gouldsboro State Park or Hickory Run State Park. Be sure to check that conditions are safe for skating and that the ice is at least four inches thick.
Ice skating is also available at several of the region’s picturesque resorts. Woodloch Resort even offers ice skating year-round. During the winter, resort guests can practice toe loops and triple axels on scenic Lake Teedyuskung, while the resort’s indoor rink is open all year. The resort even offers ice skates, hockey sticks, and pucks for rent.
7. Gear up for Exhilarating Snowmobiling Excursions
Snowmobile trails in the Poconos lead you through a fantastic winter landscape where mountain streams flow through hardwood forests covered in brilliant white. Whether you’re up for a micro-adventure or an extended outing, you’ll find the perfect trail at one of five state parks. When there’s ample snowfall, snowmobilers can also cruise the 15-mile stretch of the panoramic Lehigh Gorge Trail between White Haven and Penn Haven Junction at Lehigh Gorge State Park. For an epic adventure, the Delaware State Forest is home to nearly 115 miles of snowmobiling trails. These groomed trails also connect to adjacent Promised Land State Park. If you don’t have a snowmobile check out Pocono Outdoor Adventure Tours and put your adrenaline into high gear, and head out on a UTV adventure! Since 1968, the family-run business has been introducing visitors to the sport, and you’ll enjoy taking a ride on their top-notch machines.
After your trail adventure, warm up with a seasonally-inspired libation at one of the region’s microbreweries or distilleries, like the Barley Creek Distillery, Mountain View Brewing Company, Pocono Brewery Company, or Silverback Distillery.
8. Attend Engaging Seasonal Celebrations
From winter festivals to ski swaps to stunning seasonal displays, there’s always something happening in the Poconos! During the holiday season, the streets of Hawley, Honesdale, and Jim Thorpe are transformed with shimmering lights and seasonal décor. All three towns host family-friendly seasonal festivals that are sure to spark the holiday spirit. You can also combine seasonal celebrations with a little sightseeing aboard one of the region’s winter train tours. It’s an unforgettable experience to rumble through the Pocono Mountains with the snow-covered forest sliding by in the window.
After your time playing outside, thaw out with a decadent mug of hot chocolate or an artfully brewed cup of coffee at one of the region’s cozy spots, like Black & Brass Coffee Roasting Company, Cocoon Coffeehouse and Bakery, or Zoe’s Ice Cream Emporium at the historic Castle Inn.
9. Speed Down Thrilling Tubing Runs
In the Poconos, you don’t even need skis to get an exhilarating rush racing down a snowy mountain slope. The region’s tubing runs also provide plenty of thrills. The area’s ski resorts offer family-friendly snow tubing parks, with perks like magic carpet conveyors and speedy chairlifts to help shuttle snow tubers back up the mountain. For an unforgettable day or night on the slopes, visit Camelback Mountain, which boasts the biggest snow tubing park in the country. After sunset, disco lights create a party atmosphere on the resort’s tubing lanes.
Written by Malee Baker Oot for Matcha.