"If your dog is fat," the old saying goes, "you aren't getting enough exercise." But walking the dog need not be just about a little exercise. Here are 9 cool things you can see in the Poconos while out walking the dog.
The 23 named waterfalls of the Falls trail in Ricketts Glen State Park were slated to be part of a Pennsylvania national park until World War II intervened. At the Pocono Environmental Education Center hike out the Tumbling Waters Trail to a series of powerful cataracts above the Delaware River. The Glen Onoko Run Trail in Lehigh Gorge State Park climbs 900 feet past seven distinct waterfalls, the highest dropping 150 feet.
Hidden in nooks and crannies in the Poconos are remnants of the last Ice Age - spring fed lakes that developed when the glaciers retreated 14,000 years ago. One of the best is a loop around secluded Bruce Lake in the Delaware State Forest.
THE BOULDER FIELD
Another remnant of the glaciers is the quarter-mile wide Boulder Field in Hickory Run State Park, a National Natural Landmark. The 14 acres of jumbled stones collected here due to the unique slope of the terrain.
ANCIENT PENNSYLVANIA STATE TREES
The Eastern hemlocks in Salt Springs State Park are estimated to be as old as 500 years. In Woodbourne Forest your dog can hike through the largest remaining stand of virgin forest in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Switchback Trail travels on the remains of one of the world's oldest railroads, dropping on a 2% grade from Mauch Chunk Lake Park into the town of Jim Thorpe. The ingenious railroad used gravity to send coal cars down the mountain to waiting barges in the Lehigh River and mules dragged the cars back up the slopes. In its final years the railroad carried thrillseekers as a pioneering rollercoaster.
A logical way for settlers to dispose of "Pocono Potatoes" - the stones pulled from the rocky ground - was to build walls. Many of these walls were built with great care (they still stand more than 100 years later) and were often inspected by local authorities after construction. If a wall passed scrutiny a farmer could not be held responsible for damage to his crops by neighboring animals.
In Gouldsboro State Park your dog can hike down the cracked concrete of the original Route 611 that was once the main thoroughfare to Philadelphia.
In the riverfront parks of Wilkes Barre-Kingston trails have been built atop the imposing levees engineered to protect the city from the rampaging floods of the Susquehanna River.
If you bring your dog to Lacawac Sanctuary in the spring you are likely to encounter folks with a hiking stick and a mesh bag. These are morel mushroom hunters - passionate seekers of the storied fungus that sprouts in moist, dank woodlands. A prime spot for morel hunters are abandoned apple orchards like the one in Lacawac. Look near the trunks in late May.
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