Big Pocono State Park
Big Pocono State Park is in Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania. The park consists of 1,306 acres of rugged terrain on the summit and slopes of Camelback Mountain.
From the summit, visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of a vast portion of eastern Pennsylvania and portions of New Jersey and New York.
The park closes the day after the end of deer season in December and reopens as conditions permit in the spring. The park is open sunrise to sunset.
Big Pocono State Park facilities are maintained in cooperation with the Camelback Ski Corporation. The trails of Big Pocono State Park are maintained in cooperation with the Pocono Outdoor Club.
The park is open sunrise to sunset
Picnicking: There are three picnic areas with plenty of picnic tables and charcoal grills. Most areas provide “a picnic with a view” high atop Camelback Mountain at an elevation of 2100 feet above sea level. Parking spaces in Parking Lot 4 are designated for people with disabilities. In Parking Lot 2, parking spaces, the restroom, and some picnic tables are designated for people with disabilities.
Hunting and Firearms: About 800 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, bear, cottontail rabbit, squirrel, turkey and ruffed grouse. Furbearers include fox, raccoon and coyote. Adjacent to the park are 3,943 acres of State Game Land 38, which are open to public hunting, trapping, dog training and hiking.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 8.5 miles of trails
The trails are marked with different colored blazes (see map). Trails marked with blue are no longer maintained or shown on the map. South Trail and the North Trail Lower Loop are open to mountain bikes and horses.
North and South trails extend down the east side of the mountain. They are steep and rugged, offering experienced hikers a challenging 600-foot elevation change in under a mile.
For an easier hike, try the upper loop of South Trail along the south face of the mountain and Indian Trail, which forms a 1.3-mile loop from Rim Road. North Trail Lower Loop connects the lower end of South Trail back to the North Trail via a portion of the old railroad grade, which is fairly flat.
Indian Trail offers a great vista from the eastern cliffs, visible from I-80 and points in Tannersville and Scotrun. Visitors may also connect to South Trail midway across the south face section from Parking Lot 3 using the Vista Trail for a shorter loop.
Mountain Biking: Mountain biking is permitted on South Trail and North Trail Lower Loop. Bikes are prohibited on the connecting trails from the parking lots and on Indian and North trails.
Horseback Riding: Horses are permitted on all of the hard surface roads shared by vehicles, and also South Trail and North Trail Lower Loop. Horses are prohibited on Indian and North trails.
Cameltop Restaurant: Cameltop, a restaurant near the summit of Camelback Mountain, is operated by Camelback Ski Area and provides refreshment for park visitors. The restaurant may be reached by the park road or by ascending the mountain on the ski area chair lift and is open daily Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
Downhill Skiing: Camelback Ski Area is the biggest and best ski, snowboard and snowtubing area in the Poconos. You’ll find 33 trails, 13 lifts including two high-speed, detachable quads, two halfpipes, two terrain parks, night skiing and 100% snowmaking. 570-629-1661, snow conditions: 800-233-8100. www.skicamelback.com
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
The top of Camelback Mountain is a unique forest called a scrub oak shrubland. Wind-dwarfed gray birch, quaking aspen, red pine and scrub oak cover the mountaintop, with no tree over twenty feet tall. Lowbush blueberry, sweet fern and mountain laurel grow under the short trees. Down slope, the forest offers more shade with mixed hardwoods including oak, maple, and hickory trees.
Portions of South Trail are lined with blueberry and mountain laurel, which bloom in mid-June. On the north side of the mountain, North Trail Lower Loop Trail on the old railroad grade passes through a rock cut and offers hikers a glimpse of a hemlock and rhododendron glen, which is surprisingly cool on hot summer days. Rhododendron blooms in late July.
Big Pocono State Park is on land which was owned by Henry S. Cattell near the turn of the 20th century. Mr. Cattell, being very fond of the view from the summit of Camelback Mountain, and knowing that many others shared his love for the area, constructed a stone cabin on the summit in 1908. The Cattell Cabin was left unlocked for many years to be used as a shelter by anyone who wished.
Since 1921, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry has maintained Big Pocono Fire Tower on the mountain for the purpose of detecting forest fires in the surrounding private and state forest lands. The tower is staffed only during the spring and fall seasons and has been dedicated by the National Fire Tower Association as a historical structure.
In 1928, 12 years after Mr. Cattell’s death, the Pennsylvania Game Commission purchased the area. In 1950, a portion of the state land on the steep north slope of the mountain was leased to Big Pocono Skiing, Inc., for commercial ski development. Later named Camelback Ski Corporation, the facility has been developed into a major ski resort.
In 1953, a 1,306-acre portion of the state game lands, including the ski area lease, was acquired by the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters (now the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) for the purpose of developing a state park at the mountain’s summit.
In 1954, after the construction of restrooms, parking areas, picnic sites, fireplaces and a scenic drive around the summit, the area was opened to the public as Big Pocono State Park. The Cattell Cabin served for many years as a park office and nature museum.
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The Friends of Big Pocono State Park is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing Big Pocono State Park. It as an affiliate chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation, and is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization, which means that your contribution is tax deductible. Any money that you donate to the Friends will benefit Big Pocono State Park directly. The Friends coordinate a wide variety of volunteer activities that benefit the parks. friendsofbigpocono.org/home
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DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
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Big Pocono State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau, 800-POCONOS www.800poconos.com
Big Pocono State Park is in the famous Pocono Mountains resort area. Nearby attractions include state game lands 38 and 127, Gouldsboro State Park, Tobyhanna State Park, Hickory Run State Park and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. www.nps.gov/dewa/
Maps and Downloadables
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Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Entrance to the park is from PA 715 and Exit 299 of I-80 at Tannersville.
CAUTION: Steep grades. Visitors should not attempt this drive in vehicles with trailers in tow. Municipal road maintenance is not provided and seasonal closures of the access roadway will occur.
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Big Pocono State Park