The land in this area of the state may not have met the expectations of
the Shaker religious sect that immigrated from England in the 1700s --
it wasn't really suitable for farming -- but it sure does make a
nice recreational area!
Pickerel Point Beach on Promised Land Lake
Two kayaks on Lower Lake
The only time Jim and I have been in the
Poconos previously was in 2005 when we were blitzing through the
southeastern portion of the scenic mountain range along the Appalachian Trail.
We decided to stay a bit longer this time so we could see why this area
is so popular with residents and visitors.
LOWER LAKE CAMPGROUND
We left the FamCamp at Andrews Air Force Base south of Washington,
D.C. on Friday morning and reached
Promised Land State Park late that afternoon.
Check-in at the visitor center was quick because we had already made a
reservation for four nights. We put fresh water in our tank at the
visitor center, then drove two miles to our campground at Lower Lake.
Part of Lower Lake near our
The large park has six different campgrounds ranging from rustic to
While we were in Washington, D.C. we researched the various
campground maps and facilities online and rather blindly chose a
specific pull-through site at the end of a loop in one of the Lower Lake
campgrounds that has site large enough for big rigs.
It turned out to be a terrific site for us -- easy to access
with our 36-foot 5th-wheel coach and as quiet and private as any site in the park.
Our doorside faces a large forest and no one is close to us.
We have 50-amp electricity but no water (there are spigots here and
there) or sewer (there is a dump station).
About 60% of the sites in our campground were full this weekend;
many folks left on Sunday so it's even quieter today. The popular Pickerel
Point CG, which is smaller and has a swimming beach, was more crowded
Note that there is a generous 20% discount on campsite fees in this park for seniors.
If you have a dog, that's partially negated by a $2 per dog per night fee. Dogs are
permitted in about half the sites in the section of Lower Lake CG where
In addition to all the campgrounds, there are also some rustic cabins
that can be rented -- and probably some of the 200+ leased
cottages in the park.
There are lots of things for adults and kids to do at Promised Land
in addition to the usual campground activities, including hiking,
cycling, picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback
riding, geocaching, ranger programs, and a CCC museum.
The park is also open for winter activities like ice fishing,
snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Canoes and other boats at
Promised Land Lake
Here are some of the organized activities listed for mid-July:
early-bird paddle on the lake with a naturalist, pond critter study,
coyote talk and walk, blueberry-picking hike, sing-along, story-telling,
campfire and movie at the amphitheater, scavenger hunt, nature arts and
crafts, and eagle-viewing.
We participated in the eagle-viewing. During one of our bike rides we
rode to the wildlife observation
platform on the other side of Lower Lake to see the bald eagles. Although we
didn't see any of them, we could see their nest on the other side of the
lake through a spotting scope. A naturalist was present for several
hours to point things
out and answer questions.
We also enjoyed going through the Masker Museum, which features
interactive stories, displays, and artifacts that show all the work done
in the park by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
One of the displays shows a photo of the CCC workers who did so much
in this part of the Poconos:
Another display shows intricate silhouette cut-outs
known as Scherenshnicht. These were made by a cook in the CCC
camp and showed scenes of daily life, sometimes with humorous undertones:
There are also natural history displays in the museum. Admission to
the museum is free.
HIKING & BIKING
Each day we got outside at least once to hike with the dogs and ride
Not only are there lots of miles of dirt and paved roads and trails
throughout the 3,000-acre park, there are more miles in the 12,000+ acre
Delaware State Forest, which surrounds three sides of the park, and the
Bruce Lake Natural Area to the east.
Jim rides by lots of ferns on the forest floor
Much of the park is forested with maple, oak, beech, hemlock, and
other deciduous and pine trees.
It is very pretty this time of year
because the huge native rhododendrons and mountain laurels --
many as tall as trees -- are in bloom along the roadways and
trails in the forest:
There are two large lakes and several scenic streams within the park.
I particularly enjoyed walking the dogs along Little Falls Trail
(next three photos) and on
Conservation Island (second set of three photos):
One day I was walking with Casey near the campground in the state forest on a wide trail
that's open to hiking, dogs, bikes, and snowmobiles. I called Jim to let
him know it was a good place to cycle -- and get raspberries
-- so he came out a couple miles to meet us.
There were lots of ripe, tasty red raspberries; we
all got some, and on the way back Casey dived off the trail to get
some for herself. That was funny. (We also got ripe raspberries in the
Before Jim reached us
I came to a logging road (above) and followed it for about a mile until Casey's
hair raised on her back like a Mohawk and she sniffed the air --
just like Cody's done when a bear was nearby.
Uh, oh. I wasn't totally convinced, however, that she smelled a bear.
She's never been near one before.
In another 100 feet I came to a large pile of bear scat full of berries in the
road. Then I knew she smelled a bear! We turned around and I
called out "Hey, bear!" periodically
on the way back to the trailhead in our campground. Never did see a
The only black bear we actually saw in the park was
the one in this case in Masker Museum.
Of course, we left the two canisters of bear spray we got for the Alaska
trip in 2012 in the storage unit in Virginia, thinking we wouldn't need
them until next summer.
When Jim reached
us on his bike he just kept riding, undeterred by bears.
While we were here
he got in several 14-18-mile rides. I did one 17-mile ride and walked
4-7 miles a day.
Today we did a four-hour loop drive in the truck through part
of the Poconos.
We drove south on PA 390 past Mountain Lake/Skytop with beautiful
scenery and homes. We took a short walk through the attractive shopping
area in Stroudsburg but somehow missed the historic downtown area of E.
Stroudsburg. We saw it in 2005 when we did the Appalachian Trail.
Above and below: scenes
from downtown Stroudsburg
We headed out of town going east on US 209 through the Delaware Water
Gap National Recreation Area on the PA side of the Delaware River.
We passed by two scenic falls that require fees (Bushkill and Dingmans) but
did stop to hike down to
Raymondskill Falls, the highest falls
in PA -- no charge to hike in this area.
There is a series of three tiers with a total drop of about 150 feet. Here are the
upper and middle falls:
Dogs aren't allowed down the rugged trail with some steep drop-offs so
Casey and Cody didn't get to go with us. This series of steps was wet
It started raining while Jim and I were admiring the falls.
Because of the rain we didn't take another trail to a lower part of the
creek where the dogs could have gone.
Nice place to stay dry for a little while
I was curious about the "kill" at the end of some of the streams in this
area so I looked it up. It's Middle Dutch for "riverbed."
Smiley-faced log in Promised Land State Park
There are many more things to see and do in the Poconos. We had a
good time at Promised Land State Park and can recommend it for other RVers
who like the great outdoors.
Now it's time for us to head on up the road . . .
Next entry: camping and activities in the Berkshires
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil