The 5,440-acre Tobyhanna State Park in Monroe and Wayne counties in eastern Pennsylvania is named for a native American word that means “stream whose banks are fringed with alder.” Is that comforting or frightening? What's an alder? Are they predatory? Do they have three eyes? First of all, they're in the Birch Family, and that doesn't mean John Birch. It means the flowering plants of the genus Alnus, which includes 35 species of mostly deciduous trees and shrubs.
The alder is mostly bitter, to taste, but not poisonous. No eyes of any kind in odd or even numbers. While the alder are safe; however, the park warns that visitors in remote areas of the park have stumbled upon un-exploded artillery shells from between three inches and 24 inches in length. Visitors are instructed to leave them alone, but call state officials and report their location.
The park, which includes the 170-acre Tobyhanna Lake, is a few miles east of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, which puts it right in the heart of the Poconos, which are Pennsylvania's version of the Catskill Mountains. These are some of the oldest, most worn down mountains on the planet that in a few hundred years will be called golf courses and parking lots and which currently stir the debate, “are those really mountains or just bumps or foothills?”
Either way, you've got time to enjoy them. Tread lightly and respectfully; these mountains are elderly. While you discuss the nomenclature of these elevated beauties, Woof will be tugging on the leash implying, “Let's go; let's go.” This is because pets are permitted almost everywhere at Tobyhanna State Park so long as they display tags declaring they've been vaccinated and they stay on a leash. They are not allowed, however, inside buildings or at swimming and beach locations.
However, there are pet-friendly camping sites that are designated by number, and for pets at these sites, there is an additional fee added to the camping fee. Certainly, for fishing and hiking, the Poconos (and the Catskills) are some of the most pleasantly rugged areas around the northeast, and they are perfect for family hikes with hundreds of easy trails for children, dogs, and older strollers. In addition, at Tobyhanna, there are dozens of other enjoyable activities, including boating, biking, cross-country skiing, swimming, hunting, snowmobile riding, and fishing.