|Recreation in Greater Hazleton|
The four seasons Mother Nature gave Greater Hazleton allow residents many choices when it comes to recreation. From majestic mountains that are perfect for skiing, snowboarding and tubing; the crystal-clear streams and spring-fed ponds that lure fishermen from miles around; the lush forests that urge hunters of deer and bear to give it their best shot and the fantastic scenery that helps ease the pain of a bad round of golf, we’ve got it all.
It’s nearly impossible to get bored with our climate. Four distinct seasons make sure of that. With each season come many great opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Not athletic? You’d rather shoot game animals with your camera? Not a problem. You can sit back and watch as professional athletes show off their football and baseball talents. Or you can lace up a pair of hiking boots and take a memorable stroll through your pick of state parks.
Tickets to movies, big-name concerts, professional sporting events and live theater come with great seats and a short drive. Whether you’re into antique hunting, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting or golf, the adventure is yours for the picking.
Visitors come here from all over the country to boat on our tranquil lakes, go horseback riding through our scenic valleys, or skydive. Locals need just a few dollars and few free hours to get the same satisfaction whenever the mood strikes.
Close encounters with white-tailed deer, wild turkey, grouse, cottontail rabbit, pheasant and the occasional black bear never grow old. Many outdoorsmen agree that Greater Hazleton has some of the best hunting in Pennsylvania. It helps that we have access to thousands of acres of pristine state game land.
Our pristine lakes and streams are home to native and stocked game fish. Pennsylvania boasts more trout species than any other state. Your catch of the day could include brook, brown, lake, rainbow, or golden rainbow trout. Crafty anglers can also take home a few large and small mouth bass, walleye, pickerel, perch or panfish.
When Old Man Winter blows in to town, residents of Greater Hazleton take advantage of some of the best skiing in the country. Eagle Rock Resort, located just eight miles from downtown Hazleton, offers 12 well-groomed slopes. At dusk, they’re all lit up for night skiing and snowboarding. The latest snowmaking equipment enhances the experience.
Sno Mountain, which boasts some of the steepest slopes in the state, has 1,000-foot vertical drops, three triple chair lifts and one double-chair lift. The slopes are well lit for night skiing. More than 15 other ski resorts are available for skiers in the region.
Avid backpackers can head to the scenic Appalachian Trail that winds just to our south and holds the promise for an exhilarating day hike or something far more daring!
The road less traveled also leads to the Greater Hazleton Rails-To-Trails. Each year, more abandoned rail beds are converted to trails for hiking, biking, jogging and cross-country skiing. Plans call for 16 miles of groomed hiking and biking trails, passing the Hazleton City Reservoir and taking visitors through scenic and environmental areas in addition to Eckley Miners’ Village, where visitors can experience life as it was in a coal-mining patch town back in the 1800s. Wildlife along the trail includes deer, bears, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, foxes and coyotes, among others.
Getting more “extreme” might involve a workout. The Tri-Area Recreation Authority has built a BMX bicycle track over former mining and logging roads and old railroad beds. The packed ground is ideal for mountain bikes, too.
Citizens of the Greater Hazleton area are enjoying enhanced recreational opportunities at Louis Schiavo City View Park, a 16-acre site located on South Poplar Street. When totally completed, the park will have a football field, basketball and tennis courts, a paved walking loop trail, picnic facilities, restrooms and parking spaces for 180 cars.
Community Park in Hazle Township offers a relaxing outdoor atmosphere with pavilions, a pond for fishing, picnic areas, sports fields and courts, playgrounds, and walking and running trails.
Whispering Willows, a sprawling community park in Conyngham, has baseball fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool, playground, and plenty of wide-open space for everything from touch football to flying a kite.
And it's just a 30-minute drive to Jim Thorpe, a historic and picturesque Victorian town that is also home to some of the best whitewater rafting in the East. Try Jim Thorpe River Adventures or Pocono Whitewater Adventures, which also offers hiking, biking and paintball games.
More than a dozen state parks and forests lie within an hour's drive of Greater Hazleton. These parks offer everything from hiking to bird-watching to fishing to power boating. For family fun in one of these parks, spend a day in the park exploring one of our two National Natural Landmarks, have a picnic, or enjoy a weekend camping trip.
The three closest parks are Hickory Run, Lehigh Gorge and Nescopeck.
Hickory Run is 15,483 acres of woodlands with tent and trailer camping, cabins, a beach, and Boulder Field, a National Natural Landmark created by nature 20,000 years ago. The park offers hunting in the park and on adjacent state game lands, fishing in three streams and the Lehigh River, camping areas and special campfire programs, nature walks on 37 miles of hiking trails, 16 miles of snowmobiling trails, 13 miles of cross-country skiing trails, an ice-skating area, and sledding and tobogganing areas.
Lehigh Gorge is a 4,548-acre park along the Lehigh River. This park offers Class III whitewater along a 24-mile section of the Lehigh River and minutes from downtown Hazleton. The whitewater is perfect for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing and traverses the scenic Lehigh River Gorge. More than 30 miles of abandoned railroad grade is available for hiking, biking, sightseeing, and photography. An additional 15 miles of trail are open to snowmobilers. The Lehigh River is also open for fishing.
The Raphael J. Musto Environmental Education Visitor Center at Nescopeck, a 3,500-acre park state park, serves as the hub of park activities, housing environmental education programs, visitor services and staff offices. Nescopeck has forested areas, a variety of wetlands, a small lake and a high-quality trout stream. Visitors enjoy hiking, bird-watching, cross-country skiing, fishing and hunting.
Love to golf? Greater Hazleton has more than a dozen options, including public and private facilities. You’re never more than a short drive away from a challenging course like Edgewood in the Pines, Sand Springs Country Club, or Valley Country Club.
Much like a Norman Rockwell painting, our community parks and playgrounds are well groomed and often filled with the sounds of laughing and squealing youngsters. Young and old alike flock to soak up the scenery, learn a new activity, get fit or simply hang out with friends.
A vibrant Little League program is the hot corner of the area’s amateur sports scene. Football, soccer, basketball, softball, street hockey and other organized sports are also available throughout the year. Each summer, sports camps are filled with energetic kids eager to improve their game.
We’re not kidding when we say there are dozens of opportunities for grown-ups too. Adult basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball leagues are very popular. Adult and youth bowling leagues roll virtually every night at West Hazleton’s Bowl Arena, Valley Lanes just down the road in Sybertsville, and over in Freeland at St. Michael’s Recreation Center.
If watching professional-level sports is more your thing, head up to the Montage area to watch the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees play AAA baseball. You’ll enjoy the cozy confines of PNC Field, where tomorrow’s professionals play today! And you can enjoy a hot dog and a cold beer while you soak up the action.
Check this, hockey fans: There’s plenty of hard-hitting action at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre. The arena is the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The team skates 40 home games a year, not including playoffs.
Mohegan Sun Arena offers exciting events like indoor motocross, monster trucks and WWE wrestling not to mention top name concerts.
You’re also within a tank of gas from a number of big-league teams such as the New York Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Mets and Jets; Philadelphia Eagles, Sixers and Phillies; Baltimore Orioles and Washington Redskins.
Racing fans can get their NASCAR fix twice a year at the Pocono International Raceway just east of Hazleton. The thunder rolls when the Pocono 500 and Pennsylvania 500 take the track. Motorcycle enthusiasts from groups like SCCA also test their mettle on the tough tri-oval track.
To enjoy exciting racing on a smaller track – and to put a smaller dent in your wallet – head to Mountain Speedway in St. Johns. This 1/3-mile track is a proving ground for driving enthusiasts of all ages.
Each summer, roller coaster enthusiasts from around the world rumble into Elysburg for a chance to ride the wooden coasters at Knoebel’s Amusement Resort, the largest free-admission park in the country. The park, which is only a scenic hour’s drive from Greater Hazleton, also has a haunted house, classic bumper cars and a vintage carousel that are each rated in the top 10 in their respective categories! You can keep your cool at their swimming pools and water slides. When you feel inspired to sleep under the stars, pitch a tent in Knoebel’s family-friendly campsite.
Dorney Park near Allentown, a 75-minute drive from Hazleton, has some of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the United States. One white-knuckle ride features a mind-bending 200-foot first drop! The Peanuts-themed children’s area has a tamer 170-foot freefall ride and an award-winning water park.
Chocolate lovers must drive an extra few minutes to make a pilgrimage to Hershey. The historic town founded by Milton S. Hershey himself is also home to Hersheypark, a top family destination with several exciting roller coasters, a wildlife park and dozens of other rides. You’ll learn how Hershey Kisses are made when you take a free tour of Chocolate World, which is located just outside the park’s front gate.
The city of Easton is home to Crayola Crayons and the spot where the Lehigh and Delaware rivers meet. The whole family can play at the colorful interactive museum.
If you prefer live action, gallop the 35 minutes north to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, which offers live harness racing, year-round simulcast wagering and special events. In 2007, Mohegan Sun became the area’s first “racino” – a combination race track and slot machine casino entertainment facility! This 400,000-square-foot complex has a complete entertainment experience that includes 2,000 slot machines, three full-service restaurants, a 300-seat buffet, a 15,000-square foot food court, several bars and lounges, an 18,000-square foot nightclub, a “Kid’s Quest” center and a 20,000-square foot retail space. The much-anticipated second phase of the casino, a 300,000-square-foot gaming and entertainment complex, opened in July 2008. In addition to many slot machines, it features electronic virtual table games, several well-known restaurants and bars and 7,000 square feet of retail space.
History buffs can spend a lifetime discovering the roots of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Moments away from Hazleton is Eckley Miners' Village. Built in 1854, Eckley was owned by anthracite coal companies for 115 years. The houses were never sold to the occupants, so few changes were ever made to them. Much of the original flavor of the houses has been retained. Paramount, the major Hollywood studio, filmed the movie The Molly Maguires in Eckley. Now, the town is part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Anthracite Museum Complex, though several dozen residents still call Eckley home.
The Delaware and Lehigh Canal Heritage Park Corridor passes through Greater Hazleton. This coalition-based effort spanning five Eastern Pennsylvania counties traces the route of barges that transported coal from Northeastern Pennsylvania's anthracite mines to major cities along the East Coast. The 182-mile-long corridor includes the Lehigh River Gorge, Hickory Run State Park, and Jim Thorpe.
Another regional treasure is the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train in nearby Ashland. Visitors board electric mine cars and go deep inside a coal mine that operated until 1931. Inside, experienced miners act as guides and lead guests through a maze of coal veins, mine shafts, gangways, manways, and chutes to explain how anthracite coal is mined. Outside, a small steam locomotive takes passengers on a short trip along the side of a mountain.
An hour north of Hazleton is the Steamtown National Historic Site, the only national park that tells the story of steam railroading from 1850 through 1950. This 40-acre site includes a restored 1937 roundhouse, a 1902 roundhouse, visitors' center, theater, museum, and technology museum. There are machine and locomotive shops that allow this park to maintain and operate three historic steam locomotives, which take passengers on excursions during the summer.
Honesdale, about 75 minutes from downtown Hazleton, is considered the birthplace of the American railroad - and makes a great day trip for the family. In 1829, the first commercial locomotive on rails in the western hemisphere made its inaugural run near this quaint little town. The Stourbridge Line makes passenger excursions year-round, with fall foliage trips, special holiday-themed trips, and "unexpected" train robberies.
Just a couple hours away, the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean offer family fun, while the bright lights of Atlantic City's casinos attract everyone from day-trippers to high rollers. These venues also bring in top-flight entertainment and boxing matches.
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