Autumn in the Poconos
Autumn in Baltimore and the D.C. area is usually short-lived and unreliable, so I try to get my fill of the fresh weather and fall leaves before it's over. This season, I got the opportunity to spend a few days at the Split Rock Resort in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. Just a 3.5-hour drive away, it was a low-maintenance trip for a quick fall getaway.
Split Rock Resort is located in Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania, named for the beautiful lake near the resort. The resort is named after Split Rock, which is exactly what it sounds like. Both Split Rock and Lake Harmony were created by glaciers that covered the land 300 million years ago. While there are a lot of amenities at the resort itself, including an indoor water park, fitness center, billiards, and movie theater, we spent most of our time hiking, eating, and exploring the nearby historic town of Jim Thorpe.
Hickory Run State Park includes a variety of hiking trails to choose from; we first hiked the Hawk Falls trail, which runs through a dense magnolia forest and leads hikers to a waterfall of the same name. Of course, the magnolias weren't in bloom, but the rich fall colors did not disappoint. We also hiked part of the Boulder Field trail, which leads to a boulder field created about 20,000 years ago during the most recent glacial period.
Walking through the town of Jim Thorpe was one of the trip's highlights. The town was originally called Mauch Chunk, which comes from the language of the Munsee-Lenape people. Located in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, it was a railroad and coal mining town that now attracts visitors for its historic charm and mountain scenery. In 1953, the town name was changed to Jim Thorpe when the Native American Olympic medal winner's remains were moved there in a controversial series of events.
The town, also called "The Switzerland of America" or "The Gateway to the Poconos," showcases a range of historic architectural styles, seasonal festivals, small shops and boutiques, and restaurants. Since we visited in October, the Old Jail Museum was offering ghost tours and a Fall Foliage Festival was taking place throughout the month. We also tasted 5 wines for $5 at the Big Creek Vineyard storefront and shopped at Historic Stone Row, a row of 16 houses built by Asa Packer for engineers and foremen of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, some of which are now small shops.
I've always found that being close to nature is a great way to recharge and center yourself before heading back to the routines and stressors of daily life. The scenery and relative seclusion of the Poconos provides the perfect environment to do that, but the area also delivers for those interested in natural history and the rich human history of a small mountain town like Jim Thorpe. The Poconos are beautiful to visit during autumn and the Halloween season, but I'm sure they are just as enjoyable in different ways during the other seasons and holidays.