The Best Places to Sit, Stay + Play with Your Pooch

Visit the Pup-friendly Poconos

{CityDog Philly} When venturing to the Pocono Mountains, there’s no need to make your favorite canine endure separation anxiety. Instead, the touristy haven offers an array of Fido-friendly activities to keep both dog and master entertained.

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Pennsylvania’s answer to Niagara Falls can be found in Bushkill, near uber-quaint Milford. The famous scenic attraction is 300 acres of sylvan supremacy where a couple of miles of bridges and walkways are interspersed among eight waterfalls. Coves of mosses, ferns, and wildflowers dot the landscape. Ravines scattered with mammoth boulders evoke a primeval era, untouched by humanity. Indeed, the bucolic peacefulness of Bushkill Falls may resemble an artist’s vision leaping off the canvas, but it’s actually the handiwork of Mother Nature’s brushstrokes.

Arborists can pay homage in shaded temples of hemlocks and pines. Other trees, including, oak, maple, and birch, serve as nesting spots for the call of the wild birds. All this, as trickles gurgle through rifts in rocks, dribbling down the clefts to feed awaiting streams. With a zenith of 1,200 feet above sea level, Bushkill is accessible via a series of steep steps leading to connecting paths. At the end of this picturesque adventure, you and your four-legged companion will both be lapping up copious amounts of water.

Understandably, you may opt for liquid nourishment in the form of adult imbibing. If so, relax with a little vino at Saylorsburg’s Sorrenti Cherry Valley Vineyards, which has been the gold standard for local wineries since 1981. Growing grapes in an all-season climate have been prolific for Sorrenti’s, as they boast a yield of flavors to suit any palate. Popular varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet, and Pino Grigio are the forbearers of custom fruit wines and carbonated Spumantes.

But the site is about more than its tastings. Nearly two hundred acres of former Sorrenti property now comprise the Cherry Valley Wildlife Refuge. Numerous species of fauna call this terrain home, including the endangered bog turtle. Lush topography entices visitors and their pets to survey the reserve, whose entrance adjoins the winery. By doing so, you can savor vintages while learning about the diversity and importance of a vast critter habitat.

To satisfy hunger pangs brought on by fresh mountain air, stop by the Monroe Farmers Market. This gathering spot in the heart of downtown Stroudsburg peddles a gamut of goodies, from dairy products and freshly baked bread to homemade pasta and hand-roasted gourmet coffee. The outdoor marketplace, open every Saturday morning through October, also hosts performances by local musicians. And, while the venue always welcomes pups, August 25 will be extra furry friendly, as Dog Day takes over for a few hours of canine merriment. Animal-related vendors and crafters will be hawking their wares, but the deal of a lifetime may come from rescue organizations prepared to coordinate on-site adoptions with folks who want a new family member.

If you have a need for speed, Pocono Raceway will deliver the fix. Tourists can share their pole position enthusiasm with Rover and Rex by bringing them to the infield, as the Long Pond track was the first to establish a dog park within a motorsports arena. A high-profile race weekend is the ABC Supply 500 on August 18-19. Recognized as one of NASCAR’s most competitive superspeedways, Pocono’s distinctive, 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle features three turns, each with its own degree of banking.

More subdued but nonetheless intrepid, Kittatinny Canoes and Lander’s River Trips provide calm water canoeing and terra firma camping to beat the heat. Both businesses, nestled on the Delaware River, let you paddle with your pooch; just make sure Spot’s nails are trimmed for those raft rides. That night, sleep under the stars in a tranquil campground. Allow the Zen bonding to take hold.

While still basking in your physical respite, nourish your mind with some botanical enlightenment. The Pocono Environmental Education Center cultivates an appreciation for nature through its green space. Six trails, varying in distance and difficulty, are open to pets and their owners. PEEC, in Dingmans Ferry, also presents weekend workshops and retreat facilities. To compliment the ecozone overview, head to the Equinunk Historical Society and Museum. Here, you and furbaby will step back in time while examining mid-nineteenth century textiles and farm equipment, including a water-powered sawmill. Equinunk is also open by appointment for genealogical research.

Hop aboard and ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway from storied Jim Thorpe into a neighboring state park. The former CNJ Railroad Station allows doggie companions to join their humans on a majestic journey. This narrated round-trip follows the Lehigh River over bridges, through Glen Onoko, flanked by high-rising cliffs and rustic scenery.

Rows consisting of large boulders. Structures made of standing rocks. Rings composed of hefty stones. Toss in some mystery, and you’ll find yourself entrenched in a mythical setting. The Columcille Megalith Park is rooted in Celtic spirituality and inspired by the Isle of Iona, off the Scottish coast. Now in its 40th year, the Bangor-based retreat furnishes a sacred playground for people – and their hounds – to celebrate the Earth’s creation. If you’re seeking a guided tour that gels with meditation, an Irish historian will be available on dual summer Saturdays, July 14 and August 11, to delve into Columcille’s cosmic energies. Zen bonding, take two.

When you want a souvenir (or several) to commemorate your Pocono experience, a couple shops bear the utmost floor-to-ceiling selection. Candy, collectibles, and crafts, oh my! That’s the order of things at Country Kettle, a Marshalls Creek treasure chest chock full of mementos starting with “c”, and just about every other letter of the alphabet. A grove behind the store is suitable for dog walking, and gives owners the chance to pause between purchases. Lehighton’s Country Junction is a sprawling emporium with a Pet Parlor designated for poochie indulgence, along with vaccine clinics and costume contests. Billing itself as the world’s largest general store, the Junction also spotlights a petting zoo where guests can feed the animals.

So, whether it’s exploring, hiking, eating, kayaking, learning, or shopping, the Pocono Mountains stand ready to help you and your best friend make the dog days of summer ones to remember.

More Information

Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau

1004 W. Main Street

Stroudsburg, Penn.

570.421.5791; pocomts@poconos.org

PoconoMountains.com

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