Poconos Mountains, PA – Finger Lakes, NY
Who knew you could find such beauty in upstate New York? The Finger Lakes area must be one of the most picturesque places in the eastern United States. There’s an entire cluster of state parks filled with magnificent waterfalls and trails – we did too many, so I will only highlight a few. My favorite was Watkins Glen (free) – an easy hike, but many stairs and under waterfalls, so make sure that you have proper shoewear and waterproof your technology. Apparently the Finger Lakes themselves have really good nearby wineries, but we were too intent on hiking as many waterfalls as we could. Lake Seneca was HUGE though – almost like looking into the ocean; and, we saw a little minx running around the rocky shore.
The very short walk to the Taughannock Falls/Gorge was also gorgeous – but very misty as the force of the waterfall pounded through the last quarter mile. This is one of the only trails in the area that you can do with a dog or a stroller.
The other leg of our trip was through the Poconos Mountains. We stopped in Jim Thorpe for a few hours, but didn’t have enough time to whitewater raft, but the surrounding area was great for a bike ride down the river. Here we also stopped and camped at a slew of state parks, so will only highlight a few again – my favorite was Hawk Mountain. There was a small donation fee ($4?), but completely worth it as the park is committed to the care and survival of the many hawks that visit the area. There was a little sanctuary with injured birds, but also a (very manageable- probably one of the most manageable I’d done on this trip) hike up the mountain to where all the hawks circled. Completely magical, and one of my favorite challenging hikes. I do recommend decent footwear…..although I did the hike in my Rainbow sandals. THANK YOU RAINBOW SANDALS for making such great and supportive footwear! I loved scrambling up the rocks up all the way to the top, to the point where I could almost touch the eagles and birds. There were some harder trails that you could do, that are part of the Appalachian Mountain trail, but for those you need legitimate backpacking materials.