Take your furry travel buddy on a scenic train ride along the majestic Lehigh River in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains!
Taking a ride on the pet friendly Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway as it follows the Lehigh River is a lovely way to enjoy the Pocono Mountain scenery.
After visiting years ago with our dogs, Buster and Ty, we enjoyed returning with our pup, Myles.
History Of The Lehigh Gorge
The Lehigh River, known for it’s churning rapids, cut the Lehigh Gorge over millennia as it coursed through Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. For most of history, only the dense forests of white pine and hemlock tracked it’s progress.
But when European settlers arrived in America, they quickly burned through this easily-accessible building material and fuel. By the 1790s, the deforestation of the East was nearly complete and our fledgling country needed another source of fuel.
In 1791, anthracite coal was discovered in central Pennsylvania. Canals and railroads were quickly constructed to move the new fuel down the Lehigh River to Philadelphia, Trenton, and Wilmington.
Fast-forward 110 years to 1972, and the railroad through the Lehigh Gorge lay abandoned. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took the opportunity to purchase the real estate, create the Lehigh Gorge State Park. They turned the former rail bed into a 26-mile, multi-use trail.
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway Is Born
In 2005, with the completion of a railroad bridge across the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway was born. They offer narrated, pet friendly trips into the State Park on vintage coaches. Trains depart from the old railroad station in historic downtown Jim Thorpe, and the train schedule is on their website.
Powered by diesel engines, the 16-mile route follows the river through the gorge and lasts about 75 minutes.
READ MORE ⇒ More Pet Friendly Scenic Trail Rides in the U.S.
Dogs on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
Well behaved dogs on leash are welcome to ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway – free of charge! The ticket agent and all the conductors genuinely seemed to enjoy having a dog along for the ride.
Pet Rules on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
~ Pets on leash are welcome in both the standard coach and open-air cars.
~ Please clean up after your pet
Choosing Your Seat
Passengers traveling with pets have the option of riding in the standard coach, built in 1932 by Bethlehem Steel, with its padded seats and operating windows …
… or the open-air car with bench seating and a nice breeze. For us it was not a difficult decision. Being the dog that he is, Myles chose the open-air car for its enhanced sniffing opportunities.
Sit Back And Enjoy The Ride
Wherever you choose to sit, the views will not disappoint!
The motion of the train is so relaxing, it wasn’t long before Myles cuddled up for a little snooze.
At the half-way point, the engine disconnects from the front of the train, travels down the track beside the cars, attaches to the other end, and pulls you back to the station. So, if you missed any photos on the way out – you’ll have another chance on the way back!
Stroll Around Jim Thorpe
When you arrive back in Jim Thorpe, there’s a nice park in front of the train station. It’s a nice spot for a picnic!
From there, step into the visitor center for a walking map of Historic Downtown Jim Thorpe. There are 75 shops, eateries, businesses and historic buildings along the route.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, check out the pet friendly patio at Marion Hose Bar (an old firehouse). We stopped in for a drink, and Myles was one of SEVEN well-behaved pups enjoying their hospitality.
Explore The Trails
Of course, if you haven’t gotten your fill of the gorge, you can hit the Lehigh Gorge Trail. It runs from the train station 26 miles north to White Haven, and leashed pets are welcome!
Or check out one of the other area trails! The 165-mile D&L Trail follows the route of three historic transportation systems that carried coal and iron from mine to market: the Leigh Canal, the Delaware Canal, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
Just 80 miles from Philadelphia and 123 miles from New York, Jim Thorpe is a lovely pet friendly getaway destination. And it’s the perfect spot to make memories with your best friend!