"Switzerland" of America

  • 2 min lu
Bryan Sheffield’s photos and notes on family outings
Jim Thorpe is a gorgeous little Pennsylvania town with a ton of cool history. The cute town, dubbed the “Switzerland of America”, is planted upon the winding Lehigh River within the Pocono Mountains. Cool architecture, gorgeous scenery, quaint ice cream shoppes, white water rafting, or ghost tours of grave yards… all 100 miles West of NYC. My wife and I had been there a few times over the last 20+ years, hiking between the PA glacier rocks to waterfalls, and jumping off bridges into rivers. Now it was time to bring the kids and their Burley bikes there! There is an extensive rails-to-trails system in Pennsylvania. The days of old steel and iron train lines are gone and now these rail beds are revamped into thousands of miles of gravel multi-use trails. One fine Summer day our family decided to explore the trails surrounding Jim Thorpe.
We had a great time riding the D&L Trail through Lehigh Gorge State Park. We packed the D’Lite with sandwiches & swim suits and pedaled along the Lehigh River, crossing over it a few times with it’s scenic bridges. We ended up doing about 8 miles of the trail, slow and steady with our 1 year old daughter in the trailer and 3 year old son on his MyKick balance bike. The rest of the day was spent snacking under some birch trees, wading in the river, climbing giant boulders, and waving at the tourists on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway train. If you ask our 3 year old son, the best part of the day was his cycling in an old train tunnel-turned-cave-looking-thing. He proclaimed it was the best place he has ever been, and he asked if it would be possible for us to live there. His smile was gigantic and contagious to the other tourists as they laughed and gave him high-fives for riding his bike among the dirt and rock rubble. After our river side picnic dinner we headed into town to get ice cream and play on a no-less-than 40 year old playground high up in the mountains surrounding the town. The kids promptly fell asleep as we drove out through the mountain passes and my wife and I reflected with smiles on the perfect day we had.