Fun is peaking in the Poconos

While the Pocono Mountain region is a popular vacation destination year-round, it is particularly beguiling in autumn, when cool weather brings crackling leaves, hay mazes, craft fairs and cozy fireplaces in country inns.

"Fall is huge," said Gillian Moore of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

The geology of the sprawling 2,400-square-mile Poconos region in northeastern Pennsylvania means the blaze of fall foliage peaks at different times in three distinct zones, so there's more time to savor the reds and oranges.

Though the colors are peaking and leaves are dropping in northern Wayne and Pike counties, they are at their vibrant best right now in the middle zone, which encompasses southern Wayne and Pike and northern Monroe counties. Meanwhile, the best is yet to come in the southernmost zone, Carbon County and southern Monroe County.

This weekend, Jim Thorpe, the scenic town nestled in a valley along the Lehigh River, is hosting its third and final Fall Foliage weekend for this year. The event includes food booths and vendors selling arts and crafts, as well as free live music at four venues in town: Josiah White Park located downtown; the Dimmick Library Stage; the steps of the historic Mauch Chun Opera House; and the Anita Shapolsky Gallery. Since crowds are expected, officials recommend parking at the Carbon County Municipal Lot next to the train station.

Stores and restaurants will be offering special deals throughout the weekend, and a farmers' market will sell local produce from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Memorial Park.

Jim Thorpe, which anchors Carbon County and is known for its Victorian architecture, is also getting in the Halloween spirit with ghost tours of the Old Jail Museum. Though the museum is not a standard haunted house, the tour features spooky tales of hard-to-explain encounters in the 1871 structure, which served as the county's prison until 1995. The tours are offered Saturday, , Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, every 20 minutes from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults, $7 for students.

The town is also the starting point for hourlong narrated Lehigh Gorge scenic railway trips, which provide views of the mountains and foliage as it travels into Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Later this month, the Poconos will be the site of the eighth annual Pocono Mountain Film Festival (, scheduled for Oct. 28-31 at the Inn at Pocono Manor. Film festival founder Bridget Davis said visitors can "see the best independent films," attend workshops and meet celebrities.

This year, the festival will begin with a showing of "The Ministers," starring Harvey Keitel and John Leguizamo. Director Franc Reyes is expected to be on hand. Also expected to attend, said Davis, are Terri J. Vaughn, who has appeared in Tyler Perry films, and comedian Charlie Murphy.

Participants can pay $35 for unlimited movies and workshops, or up to $305 for an entire weekend of films, workshops, the awards dinner and an induction ceremony. The historic inn is offering a rate of $135 a night for film festival participants, a price that includes breakfast.

The inn is also hosting haunted hayrides on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month of October.

If you go

Poconos in autumn

The Pocono Mountains Region encompasses Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. The town of Jim Thorpe is hosting its final 2010 Fall Foliage Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, with live music, food and craft vendors, and other attractions. For more information, go to

Getting there

Jim Thorpe is about a three-hour drive from Baltimore. Get there by taking Interstate 83 north to Harrisburg, then I-81 north to Route 209 south.


The region is known for its hotels and inns. A few to consider:

The Black Walnut Inn, 179 Firetower Road, Milford, Pa., 570-296-6322, Rates start at $100.

Hotel Fauchere, 401 Broad St., Milford, Pa., 570-409-1212, Rates start at $170.

The Inn at Pocono Manor, Route 314 One Manor Drive, Pocono Manor, Pa., 888-262-4092, Rates start at $93.

The Inn at Jim Thorpe, 24 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, Pa., 800-329-2599, Rates start at $93.


The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is at or 800-762-6667. For the fall foliage forecast, visitors can call 570-421-5565.