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"The name is an ironic commentary of the immigrant residents in the 18th and 18th centuries    
who had been dazzled by promotional promises of the supposed wonders of the land they
were buying, reflecting their later relative disappointment."
~ Wiki page re: Promised Land State Park in Pennsylvania
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.


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 campground

The large park has six different campgrounds ranging from rustic to full hook-ups.

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 than ours.

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 we stayed.

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. 


Each day we got outside at least once to hike with the dogs and ride our bikes.

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 campground.)

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 bear, though.


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 and slick:

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 entrycamping and activities in the Berkshires

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil