If you are looking for an outdoor escape in the northeastern part of the United States, look no further than the "Promised Land" of Pennsylvania. Fly into Scranton, make a day trip from a close city, or take an exciting road trip to Promised Land State Park (with these epic road trip tunes).
Nestled on the Pocono Plateau on approximately 3,000 acres at 1,800 feet above sea level, Promised Land State Park offers an outdoor haven with dense forest, lakes, and a rich cultural history. The park is situated 35 minutes east of Scranton, 15 minutes north of Canadensis, and 20 minutes south of Hawley.
This Pennsylvania State Park in Greentown is surrounded by over 12,000 acres of the beautiful Delaware State Forest and boasts the Pocono Mountains, two lakes, overnight rentals, and a wide array of outdoor activities.
History of Promised Land State Park
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the original inhabitants of this land are the Minsi Tribe of the Wolf Clan of the Lenni Lenape American Indians (Delaware). After white colonization, a religious group called The Shakers unsuccessfully attempted to log the land. The "Promised Land" name supposedly comes from their failed attempt at developing the area.
In the first years of the 20th century, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the land, and in 1905, the region became the state's fourth state park. The land was barren and in the first 30 years of ownership, the commonwealth planted over 370,000 trees.
In the year 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to help relieve extreme unemployment due to the Great Depression. There were 151 CCC camps in Pennsylvania and at the state park specifically, there were camps at what is now the Deerfield and Pickerel Point Campgrounds.
Trails at the Park
The dense Delaware State Forest of Promised Land State Park consists of beech, oak, maple, and hemlock trees. There are 50 miles of hiking trails to discover in the park, including favorites Bruce Lake Trail (a hike to a natural glacier lake), Little Falls Trail (small waterfalls), and the Conservation Island loop. The park also has designated mountain biking and horseback riding trails. Winter sports at Promised Land State Park include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating.
For swimming, there are designated swimming areas with sand beaches for family-friendly fun in the sun. There is the main beach in the day-use picnic area and Pickerel Point Beach. They are open from late-May to mid-September from 8 AM to sundown.
If you want to partake in boating, bring your kayak or electric motorboat and explore Promised Land Lake or Lower Lake. Promised Land Lake is 422-acres and provides around nine miles of shoreline, while the 173-acre Lower Lake has almost four miles. The park has a total of five boat launching areas and even offers boat rentals for those looking to have some fun on the water.
Fishing enthusiasts will appreciate having the lakes fully-stocked for their enjoyment. You can even do some ice fishing in winter months. The lakes are stocked with bass, pickerel, muskellunge, yellow perch, sunfish, and catfish. The Lower Lake is also approved for trout fishing — just make sure to follow the trout stamp restrictions.
Camping at Promised Land State Park
There are multiple options when it comes to staying the night at Promised Land. The Bear Willow Cabin Colony is equipped with 12 rustic cabins available for rent. For campers, there are six main camping areas. Each area varies from rustic (flush toilets, no showers, and no electricity) to full service (sewer, electric, and water hookup on-site).
Visit the Masker Museum
No trip to Promised Land State Park is complete with a stop by the Masker Museum, one of the biggest CCC museums in the commonwealth. See ancient artifacts and learn the story of the land, observe displays, check out the bird observation area, see the field guides, and stroll by the native plant garden and bird feeding stations.
Admission to the museum is free and the museum is located off of Pickerel Point Road near the Pickerel Point Campground. The museum is typically open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day but double-check with the park office beforehand to confirm.
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