Outdoors in the Poconos

There is plenty to see and do at Pocono Raceway during race weekends involving all things NASCAR from garage tours to perusing the many souvenir haulers lined up outside the track to enjoying the show on the track.

However, if you have the urge to explore beyond the track and its premises, you will find that the surrounding Poconos offer a lot of options for the outdoor enthusiast in everyone.

Whether you’re interested in biking, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, off-roading, whitewater rafting or visiting state and national parks there’s something to satisfy everyone’s appetite.

There are a couple of biking and hiking trails nearby that race fans can try out during their down time at the race track. Big Pocono State Park, located in nearby Tannersville, Pa., consists of 1,306 acres of rugged terrain on the summit and slopes of Camelback Mountain and offers three interconnecting trails that total 8.5 miles with a varying range of surfaces and grades. The South Trail and North Trail Lower Loop are open to mountain bikes and horses. Horses and bicycles are also permitted on all hard surfaces shared by vehicles.

Another biking trail that race fans might want to check out is the Twin Peaks Loop Mountain Biking Trail, which is 20 miles of single-file riding with steep descents and rugged terrain. The trail can take up to four hours and begins and ends in the nearby town of Jim Thorpe. Both Big Pocono State Park and Twin Peaks Loop Mountain Biking Trail offer endless opportunities to view all types of wildlife.

Tobyhanna State Park in Tobyhanna and Gouldsboro State Park in Gouldsboro are the homes to the 170-acre Tobyhanna Lake and 250-acre Gouldsboro Lake, respectively. Visitors to the parks are invited to boat and fish, both of which are permitted 24 hours a day. During the summer months, rowboats, canoes and paddleboats are available for rent by the hour. The most common fish caught in the Tobyhanna Lake are bass, pickerel, yellow perch, catfish, sunfish and brook trout, while muskellunge, walleye, crappie, sucker and fallfish can be found in Gouldsboro Lake. Both lakes offer sandy beaches and swimming opportunities. Tobyhanna State Park also offers a 140-site camping area that allows trailers and motor homes, as well as the traditional tent-style camping.

The Delaware State Forest, which spans three counties in Northeast Pennsylvania, hosts six different natural areas. The Thunder Swamp Trail System, which includes a 45-mile network of interconnecting hiking trails, crosses ridges, valleys and follows the contours of wetlands. All trails in the forest are open to mountain bikers and horseback riders. Low-impact camping is also available for those interested in spending the night in the forest.

For those race fans interested in horseback and/or pony rides, Pocono Manor Stables in Pocono Manor, Pa., offer tours year-round. The guided tours take both experienced and novice riders along some of the wooded trails, which cover more than 3,000 acres of land. In addition, they offer horse-drawn sleigh rides and hayrides. Carson’s Riding Stable Inc. located in Mount Pocono also offers year-round horseback trail rides for beginners on up to experts. Mountain Creek Riding Stable, in Cresco, offers an easy-paced western ride through a mountain creak and three miles of wooded trails.

If you’re looking for hunting opportunities, Tobyhanna State Park is open during established seasons. Nearby state game lands 127 and 312 also offer hunting. Big Pocono State Park has allocated about 800 acres to hunting. State game land 38, which is adjacent to the park, has 3,943 acres that are open to hunting. Although it is a little farther away from the track, state game lands 180 in Pike County covers over 11,000 acres of wilderness used primarily for hunting.

For a faster paced activity Lost Trails ATV Adventures may be the perfect speed. The 1,200-acre natural area, located in Pocono Manor in the heart of the Poconos, offers everything from water bogs to mud holes to boulders. The many meandering trails are one-way. If you’re a novice and what a little more guidance, they provide guided ATV tours. Youngsters don’t have to wait on the sidelines while only the adults enjoy this activity because the two-person ATVs allow younger riders to go along for the ride. Dirt bikes are allowed on all trails.

Even though it is a little farther away from Pocono Raceway than most of the other activities listed previously in this article, it’s definitely a trip worth making. That trip is to Nesquehoning, Pa., to go whitewater rafting with Whitewater Rafting Adventures. They offer mild to hard rafting trips on the scenic Lehigh River. The river offers 18 Class II and Class III rapids. In addition, Whitewater Rafting Adventures offer family-style float trips, kayak clinics, paintball and trails for biking. They are open daily during the Spring and Fall plus all summer long with scheduled dam releases.

While you’re in Long Pond enjoying all the action-packed racing that NASCAR, Pocono Raceway and all the drivers and their teams are entertaining thousands of fans with, don’t forget that when the action dies down for the day there’s a whole world of excitement to be explored and experienced just beyond the track.

Information provided by www.visitPA.com.