East Coast Travel Picks: Let the Poconos Surprise You
We are one of those families with an endless itinerary. We're always ready to go, explore, travel.
From the month of April to this upcoming October, our collective travel itinerary will include 11 trips, and our Deuter Helion 80 suitcase is a staple in our bedroom because it is being packed and unpacked so often. As any parent knows, traveling with kids is an amazing adventure, although it’s not always relaxing. I read somewhere that after you have children, “vacations” become “trips” for a little while. That being said, Matt and I like to try and get away alone at least once or twice a season for a little R&R (SLEEP!) and a little adventuring without the kids in tow.
Here on the East coast, there is no shortage of stellar places to visit within a few hours of where we live. We are fortunate to be able to drive a short distance to a beach, to some amazing cities, and most importantly, to some awesome mountains, complete with summit vistas that just take your breath away. Matt and I decided to head out to Pennsylvania and spend two days in the Pocono region. We heard some pretty great reviews about Skytop Lodge ... and I thought it would be a nice change of pace to sleep in a wonderfully appointed suite after a day of hiking and fun! Skytop Lodge gives you a feeling of grandeur the moment that you pull up to entrance via their circular driveway. But as fancy as this property feels (you have to wear a jacket in the dining room at dinner), there is no shortage of outdoor activities right on property that will get you right in the middle of nature at its finest. Kayaking, biking, paddleboarding and hiking are all available on the 5,500 acres of pristine Pocono land. I think we could stay a whole week and not get bored!
The Adventure Center at Skytop hosts a rock climbing wall, paintballing and a ridiculously awesome zipline and treetop challenge course. Disclaimer: I am stupid afraid of heights. Making the decision to attempt the treetop challenge course was kind of a conquer-my-fears type of decision … and that I did. In spades. The course was challenging, fun, exhilarating, terrifying (for me) and kind of oddly romantic. My Deuter Speedlite 15 was on my back the entire course holding my water (which I needed on the regular. Climbing 30-foot ladders is hard work!), my bug spray (since we were getting eaten alive out there), snacks and our camera. It was actually the first time I used the Speedlite, and it has now become my go-to bag for all of our activities where a larger pack just won’t work, or when we only need to carry a few necessities.
I was so happy that we spent that we spent those four hours up in the trees, leaving our comfort zones (which we try to do often) and feeling very alive. Another bucket list travel item crossed off the list!
After a fantastic night of sleep in our gorgeous suite, we woke up and headed back to our happy place -- the woods! We hiked the West Rim Trail on the Skytop property and continued out to Upper Falls. There is just something about a waterfall that makes me so at peace. Hiking into a waterfall is even better.
Leaving Skytop was not the end of this 24-hour adventure. We stopped at the Delaware Water Gap to hike to the summit of Mount Tammany. I’ve been hiking at the gap for a long time, but I have never done this hike. It’s a popular trail, with some moderately steep rock inclines. This trail is definitely one where you’ll see other day hikers … and we saw some other hikers with Deuter day packs! We love talking Deuter whenever we’re on the trail, so it was fun to chat about the Speedlite, and my ACT Trail 22 SL (people LOVE the Petrol/mint color).
The summit of Mt. Tammany didn’t disappoint. The rolling green mountains of the Delaware Water Gap, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are always so awe-inspiring to me. Sitting on the cliff of rocks overlooking pine trees as far as the eye can see is like meditation. It’s a different vista than the dramatic mountains of the west coast for sure, but the layers of green just give me such a sense of calm.
Gotta love New Jersey. For reals though, challenge any “Jersey is the armpit of America” nay-sayer to hike Mt. Tammany and still feel that way … nope, not going to happen.