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 charming Poconos towns with a focus on maximizing fall color and fun.
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, or visit the Country Junction – World’s Largest General Store (seriously). For a bike experiencing, peddle through the Lehigh Gorge State Park from White Haven to Jim Thorpe on the D&L Rail Trail.
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.
Honesdale has a quaint downtown to explore. 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.
Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap sits at the entrance of the national recreation area, where you can hop on the Appalachian Trail. 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.
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 the arts, and its epicenter is the Hawley Silk Mill. The Silk Mill hosts specialty shops and crafts, events, eats from the on-site Cocoon Coffehouse & Bakery 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 early-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.
Take a boat cruise on Lake Wallenpaupack to see the fall colors from the water. 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.
Article written by Jenny Willden for Matcha.