Gear Up for Snowy Outdoor Adventures
A little snow won’t keep us stuck indoors. In fact, the Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania offer outdoor adventures all year round, and winter is no exception. From tranquil, snow-covered trails to glittering, frozen lakes, our region is a real-life winter wonderland. Bundle up, head outside, and discover winter activities for all ages.
Hit the Slopes
Located just 30 miles north of Scranton, Elk Mountain Ski Resort in Union Dale is often dubbed “Vermont without the drive.” The resort boasts an impressive 1,000 vertical feet, 180 skiable acres, 27 trails for all levels, and an epic terrain park. As locals can tell you, Elk truly feels like a hidden gem. No long lines or crowds here—just East Coast skiing and riding at its finest.
Go Cross-Country Skiing
Our region’s parks and trails offer plenty of terrain for cross-country skiing. The vast Loyalsock State Forest maintains two systems specifically for skiing (although skiers are welcome on all roads and trails). The trailhead on Worlds End Road boasts access to 21 miles of cross-country ski trails. The Devils Elbow Natural Area near Shunk offers an additional 15 miles of trails, including the Hawkeye and Sand Springs Trails. Trailhead parking is available on Ellenton Mountain Road. Visit the state forest’s website for maps.
Another great ski spot is the D&H Rail-Trail, which stretches 38 miles from Simpson to the New York border. The trail is generally gentle, flat, and well-groomed at popular trailheads like Union Dale and Forest City. No gear? No problem. The Rail-Trail Council of NEPA frequently hosts cross-country skiing and snowshoeing clinics where you can rent equipment. Chet’s Place in Union Dale also offers rentals nearby.
Go Ice Skating
Hit the ice at the Laporte Enhancement Commitee’s skating rink at Cosgrove Park. This free community rink is open to the public weather permitting, and skates are available to borrow. Please check Facebook for updates.
Take a Winter Hike
This time of the year, the trees glitter with frost, and snow blankets the mountaintops. Enjoy the stunning scenery with a hike at our local parks and trails. At Vosburg Neck State Park near Tunkhannock, the River Trail and Eagle Trail will lead you along the shoreline of the Susquehanna River, where you might be lucky enough to spot the park’s resident bald eagles. For an easy, family-friendly option, the Iroquois Trail in Tunkhannock provides a flat, gentle walk through the woods.
Try Ice Hiking
Normally, the famous Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park is closed in the winter, except to experienced ice hikers and guided trips. However, even first-timers can explore the icy falls with Valley to Summit’s professional tours. They offer full-day and half-day hikes with epic views of the glen. Both tours include a stop at the jaw-dropping 94-foot tall Ganoga Falls, the tallest waterfall on the trail. Valley to Summit provides the gear and guidance—all you need to bring is your sense of adventure.
Loyalsock State Forest is home to nearly 130 miles of joint-use state forest roads and 16 miles of trails that are open to snowmobiles, weather permitting. From the trailhead on Worlds End Road, you can even ride to famous views like High Knob Overlook and Loyalsock Canyon Vista. Check out DCNR’s website for a map, regulations, and safety information.
Ride the Toboggan Slide
Kids and adults alike can’t resist a ride down the Eagles Mere Toboggan Slide. This winter tradition started in 1904 and has been a local favorite ever since. The slide starts at the top of Lake Avenue and races down the hill toward the frozen Eagles Mere Lake, reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour.
Please note that the Eagles Mere Toboggan Slide depends on Mother Nature. The slide may be cancelled if temperatures are not cold enough. Call or check online for the latest updates.
Go Ice Fishing
Up here in the mountains, our ponds and lakes freeze over and create the perfect conditions for ice fishing. Ricketts Glen State Park permits ice fishing on Lake Jean, where the high altitude and cold temperatures make lots of natural ice. Sones Pond and Bear Wallow Pond in the Loyalsock State Forest are also popular spots. Please follow all Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations and safety precautions.
Before you head out on the ice, stock up on gear at local shops like T-Town Bait & Tackle in Tunkhannock. They have a large selection of ice fishing supplies for the winter season.
Plan a Winter Getaway
After a long day of adventures, there’s nothing like coming back to a cozy cabin rental, the roaring fireplace of a B&B, or the warm comfort of a hotel. Check out our local accommodations and start planning your trip to the Endless Mountains.
Originally published: December 29, 2022
Last updated: January 3, 2024