Poconos to New Mexico

Hiking in the Poconos.

This post is part prequel for an upcoming sojourn to New Mexico, and part synopsis of a recent visit to Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Compared to the Rockies the Poconos aren’t especially mountainous, but for us they are nearby, a little over two hours by car, and thus made for another quick COVID-era getaway.

The trip to New Mexico will be the first time we will get on an airplane since February 2020, so it’s going to be a more daunting journey. We never gave flying much thought pre-pandemic, but things have certainly changed. We are hoping there are no weather or other issues that interrupt our departure, and there are no idiots on the plane who cause problems. We shall see. Stayed tuned to this space for updates.

As for the Poconos, we spent two days at Skytop Lodge, which is one of a number of family oriented resort hotels in the region. During the summer the attractions include a golf course on site, a number of hiking trails that are accessible directly from the property, and various other outdoor activities. In the winter there is skiing. We spent two nights at the resort, staying at what is referred to as the “Inn,” as opposed to the original Lodge. The Lodge is the large resort hotel that dates to 1928; the Inn was refurbished in 2020, but I believe was originally added in the 1980s. The resort also has a number of individual cottages that would be good for families or amenable couples. We had a king room that overlooked the 18th hole of the golf course, visible above. Below are images taken from the observation deck of the main hotel.

Our room was spacious and there was a large deck with chairs that were great for enjoying morning coffee and afternoon wine. Our only issue was that we damned near froze the first night because the AC unit never stopped blowing. It must have been 60 in the room by the time we woke up. One of the staff the following day told us what we had to do to shut it down, but it begs a question – why not provide that info up front, or better yet, fix the problem?

Other than that our stay was enjoyable. We ate in the main dining room of the old hotel the first night and in the Lakeside venue the second night. Both meals were well prepared and we didn’t feel crowded, important in the ‘vaccinated but still in the middle of a pandemic’ era. Breakfast was only offered in the main hotel restaurant, but that was just a five minute walk. There is also a casual lunch place in the Lodge, which is also where the golf course pro shop is located. In the main hotel there is a pub restaurant offering casual fare, along with an ice cream parlor and a coffee shop. We were treated to a free beer by the hotel general manager at the pub. He just happened to stop in when we were at the bar. The staff told us after he left that the GM can be a bit over-generous at times. We didn’t complain, of course. We also indulged ourselves by having milkshakes one day. I don’t think I have had an authentic milkshake since I was a child.

We more than covered any extraneous calories with some good hikes, with nearly all of the trails accessible from the property without having to get in the car. We did do one guided walk with a naturalist employed by the hotel that required a shuttle ride to the trailhead; she took the picture of us that opens this post. But all of our other walks didn’t involve any driving, which was a plus compared to the Sagamore on Lake George. Most of the walks weren’t that strenuous, and the trails were all well-marked. The Leavitt Falls trail was an exception. It got a little rocky and we opted to turn back after seeing the actual falls.

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