Thinking about taking a road trip? Consider Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, which is idyllic in autumn. Not only is the county easily accessible, but it boasts four state parks and a myriad of trails for fun and safe social distancing.
“The mild temperatures invite everyone to take a hike, ride a bike or just take a walk along many of our wooded trails,” says Theodore B. Wampole Jr., executive director of the Luzerne County Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit Luzerne County).
Not into physical activity? Practice “forest bathing.” Known as shinrin-yoku in Japan, the practice involves using your senses to enjoy the wooded environment. Just being outside can lower your blood pressure and ease anxiety.
“There is no better place than Luzerne County to take in Mother Nature’s beauty of the fall foliage season,” Wampole maintains.
For a healthy dose of nature therapy, try one or more of these popular areas.
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail
Winding through five counties, 140-plus-mile D&L Trail is the state’s second-longest trail. It unfurls over a former railroad route and canal towpaths and provides stunning views of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. The trail, which currently runs from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol, is still under construction. When complete, it will expand to 165 miles.
Susquehanna Warrior Trail
Tucked in the lush Susquehanna River Valley, the 11-mile crushed-stone trail was once the bed for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. These meadows — framed by mountain peaks — belonged to the Susquehanna Indians. Expect some surprises, including Search Cemetery. Also known as Miller Cemetery, it holds 10 unidentified graves.
Lehigh Gorge State Park Trail
Over time, the Lehigh River carved a dramatic ravine that is now Lehigh Gorge State Park. Peppered with waterfalls, jagged rocks and verdant vegetation, the landscape is nothing short of breathtaking. The more than 20-mile trail starts in White Haven and follows the D&L Trail on the abandoned railway grade into Jim Thorpe.
The Seven Tubs State Forest Recreation Area in Pinchot State Forest encompasses more than 537 acres. What’s with the name? Glacial meltwater carved out seven distinct “tubs.” Take the main loop, which will take you past the major highlights of the area. (Note that it can be up to 10 degrees cooler here.)
Ricketts Glen State Park
Readers of Backpacker Magazine named the 7.2-mile Falls Trails the “Best hike in PA.” Easy to see why. Located in Glens Natural Area, it takes hikers by 21 free-flowing waterfalls ranging from just over 11 feet to the 94-foot-tall Ganoga Falls. Novices can take the 3.2-mile short route, which also offers a view of Ganoga Falls.
Hickory Run State Park
Situated just over the county line, this 15,990-acre park has more than 40 miles of hiking trails and is best known for the Boulder Field, a breathtaking boulder-to-boulder area that you can clamber across. Other natural beauties here include Hawk Falls and the Shades of Death Trail, which undulates beside the water and around boulders and ruins.