Our bike trip to the Poconos started with a flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia, followed by a two and a half hour drive to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Our GPS route took us directly through Manhattan, via the tunnel under the East River, down 5th Avenue past the Empire State Building, and under the Hudson River to New Jersey.
Arriving to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania was a pleasant surprise! The quaint tourist town, lined with gift shops and B&Bs, is sandwiched between the Pocono Mountains and the Lehigh River. A scenic railway, bordering the river on the east side of town, runs daily from Jim Thorpe north to to the Lehigh Gorge State Park.
We checked into The Inn at Jim Thorpe and carried our luggage to our room before walking a block to Molly Maguire’s for dinner. Our original plan was to eat at the Stone Row Eatery, but we found out that it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The outdoor deck at Molly’s pub was a perfect spot to enjoy a good meal and the cool, fresh air! After dinner, we hurried back to the hotel so that I could log into my online help session for the college algebra class that I’m teaching this semester. I helped one student and then fell asleep watching a new episode of 800 Words on Acorn TV. Fortunately, I got a good night’s sleep and felt rested the next morning.
I chose French toast and bacon for breakfast at the Broadway Grille (hotel restaurant); the food was both delicious and filling. After breakfast, we loaded our luggage back into the rental car and drove about a mile and a half to the Lehigh Gorge State Park where we met Jim, our shuttle driver, who transported us with our Trek rental bikes to White Haven. Jim dropped us off near the trailhead, but we decided to pedal a few blocks back into town to Renee’s Cold Cut Hut where we purchased sandwiches for a picnic lunch on the trail. We purchased a large hoagie, chips and a drink for approximately $8, which was much cheaper than we expected. Renee, the owner, was extremely cheerful and friendly.
We started biking about 10:00 AM and within minutes we felt completely isolated from the hustle and bustle of the world around us. The 25-mile Lehigh Gorge portion of the Delaware & Lehigh Rail Trail follows the Lehigh River through tree-canopied forests on its slightly downhill route to Jim Thorpe. The trail is hard-packed crushed gravel and is well maintained (no potholes or debris). We passed numerous waterfalls on our ride, including Buttermilk and Luke Falls. The landscape reminded me of the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia, and I felt extremely blessed to have the opportunity to experience this remote, scenic portion of the country on a bicycle!
Just below Penn Haven Junction, we decided to eat our lunch at a picnic table perched on the bank of the river and adjacent to the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway tracks. Opposite the tracks and in sight of our picnic table was a small waterfall – what a perfect spot for our lunch! We enjoyed our ham & cheese hoagie while listening to the river rushing below. The water was swift but too low for rafters; however, we did spot two groups of tubers.
After lunch, we pedaled south a few more miles to the Glen Onoko access point. Unfortunately, we did not have time to make the two hour plus round trip hike to the falls so we continued our journey south to Jim Thorpe. We parked our bikes and took a walking tour of the town, peering in gift shops, strolling down narrow carriage roads, and admiring the Gothic-style St. Mark’s Episcopal Church built in 1869. Our walking tour ended at Wood’s Ice Cream where we indulged in our traditional end-of-the-ride dairy treat 🙂 .
As we departed Jim Thorpe, the scenic railway train was also leaving the station for a sightseeing trip up the valley. The train paralleled the bike trail for several miles, but we turned east into the state park to return our rental bikes to the same parking lot where we had left our car earlier that morning. Our shuttle driver had left a combination lock for us to secure the bikes to a concrete picnic table until he later returned to get them.
Although this is not a Hall of Fame trail, I highly recommend it! We only rode the Lehigh Gorge portion of the much longer Delaware & Lehigh Rail Trail, which spans 141 miles from Bristol (just outside of Philadelphia) to Mountain Top in the Appalachian Mountains.