Rolling on the River (and Lakes): The Best Water Sport Destinations in the Poconos 

by Eileen Strauss on August 03, 2022
CaliCase on the Delaware River Mount Pocono




With over 150 lakes and 170 river miles in Eastern PA, the Pocono Mountains are an amazing destination for water sport enthusiasts. From the rapids on the Lehigh River to Lake Wallenpaupack’s flat water, the Poconos offer some of the best paddling opportunities on the east coast. 

A top CaliCase bucket list destination, we’ve outlined some of the most can’t-resist spots.




Delaware Water Gap


Located on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania,  the Delaware Water Gap, a mile-wide gorge between Mount Minsi and Mount Tammany, cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains that includes 40 miles of the free-flowing Delaware River. 

Offering some of the Northeast’s most accessible and unspoiled water recreation, the 69,000-acre Delaware Gap Recreation Area offers an array of paddling opportunities along with calm pools for SUP, kayaking and canoeing, and mild rapids for playful rafting, making it a fun spot for water lovers of all ages and athletic stages.

Visitors can enjoy an overnight stay on the river’s island with campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  




Lake Wallenpaupack


Stretching 13 miles and spanning 5,700 acres,

Lake Wallenpaupack is northeast Pennsylvania’s largest lake and the state’s third largest man-made lake, and a perfect place for a long paddle.

With plenty of space to spread out and enjoy kayaking, canoeing, boating, or stand-up paddleboarding, the lake was originally created as a hydroelectric project to help provide energy resources to the area. But today, recreation is king on this popular lake.  






Lake Harmony


In the heart of the Poconos, less than 2 hours north of the city of Philadelphia, Lake Harmony is a natural glacial lake surrounded by picturesque summer homes and lush vegetation. 

A popular spot for kayakers, canoers, row boaters, and stand-up paddleboarders, Lake Harmony is just a short ride from the popular Split Rock Resort and Camelback Beach, which pivots from a beloved PA ski resort into a summer playland.

Every year, when the weather gets warm, people from New York, PA, Delaware, New England, and New Jersey travel to the area to enjoy everything from an expansive waterpark, row boating, tubing, and swimming to kayaking, canoeing, and SUP boarding.




Promised Land State Park


Promised Land State Park features two lakes surrounded by the Delaware State Forest in the Pocono Mountains. 

Located in the town of Greentown, Pennsylvania, the park’s 422-acre Promised Land Lake and 173-acre Lower Lake are surrounded by beautiful, peaceful forest scenery. Visitors flock to the park every year to enjoy kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and tubing where they can easily park their vehicles and launch from five different sites and paddle nine miles of shoreline. 

Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day every year, kayak, canoe, rowboat, and paddle boat rentals are available by the hour or day at the boat rental concession south of the Day Use Area. Boats are also available at Pickerel Point and Lower Lake. 





Beltzville Lake


Formed by the damming of Pohopoco Creek, beautiful Beltzville Lake is tucked in the Poconos’ southern foothills, a short hour and a half ride up the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Philadelphia. A boat launch site near the 525-foot sandy beach makes it easy to swim and paddle around the 1.5-square-mile lake. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, paddle boating, canoeing, or lounging on the beach.  

A shop just west of the swimming beach rents paddle boats and kayaks throughout the summer season.  





Lehigh River


Water enthusiasts flock to the Lehigh River’s Class I, II, and a few Class III rapids in the heart of the  Pocono Mountains every year to raft, paddle board, and tube through the massive gorges and expansive river miles as birds soar above in the clear Pennsylvian sky.

A true whitewater experience in the Poconos, guided rafting trips through state park lands past the Pocono Mountains and alongside canyon walls, last three to five hours. Plenty of family-style rafting options are also widely available in the region for those looking for tamer rapids.

Those looking to up the ante are invited to visit on scheduled dam release days where four to five-hour guided trips take you through 17 Class II and III rapids. Unless you’re a pro, going guided is best on the challenging Lehigh River sections where licensed guides provide instruction, life jackets, paddles, rafts, and often snacks or even a meal on longer trips.




Mauch Chunk Lake Park


Built originally as a flood-control project, this 345-acre lake near the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, has become a recreation hotspot, welcoming 150,000 visitors annually. Designated for non-powered watercraft and electric motors only, this spot close to Allentown, PA, is a great place to kayak, paddleboard, or canoe without the worry of wakes from power boats or jet skis. 

Mauch Chunk Lake Park Boat Rentals offers canoe, kayak, paddle boat, paddleboard, and rowboat rentals. Located by Boat Launch A, the shop rents every day during the summer season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.





Prompton State Park


The 290-acre Prompton Lake, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is popular for anglers, motorized and non-motorized boaters, and water sport enthusiasts.  One boat launch on the western shore of the lake is accessible from PA 170. Motorized boats with up to 10 horsepower are permitted as long as they display an up-to-date registration. 

Home to crappie, yellow perch, and largemouth and smallmouth bass, anglers flock to the lake all season long. Though there are no boat rental spots in the park, there are lots of great summer activities available,  including 26 miles of hiking trails, a picnic pavilion, and an 18-hole disc golf course.





Tobyhanna State Park


The 170-acre Tobyhanna Lake, located on the Pocono Plateau, is a rugged highland known for its rocky soil and dark evergreen forests. A glacier that covered the area about 20,000 years ago, helped create the area’s unique geography and abundance of bogs. 25 miles southeast of Scranton, PA, adjacent to the Gouldsboro State Park, the evergreen forests are filled with a mix of old deciduous trees, wildlife (including black bears that are normally known to stay away from people), a sandy beach, hiking and mountain bike trails, and campsites. 

Rowboats, kayaks, paddle boats, canoes, and electric-motor boats are all available for rent in the park from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A bathhouse and showers are also available during the season. Brook and brown trout are both stocked in the lake, with bass, pickerel, yellow perch, catfish, and sunfish also in good numbers.