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PEEC (Pocono Educational Environmental Center): Worth Much More Than a Glance
February 6, 2013

PEEC (Pocono Educational Environmental Center): Worth Much More Than a Glance

When you think of things that you might do outdoors, curling up in a beaver dam, settling down in a bald eagle’s nest, or crawling around a bat cave probably aren’t at the top of the list.  How could they be? 

The http://www.peec.org/Pocono Educational Environmental Center (PEEC) creates these experiences for children and adults, albeit in a large indoor facility. The life-sized eagle’s nest is scaled up to a diameter of 9.5 feet, large enough to fit three adults comfortably. Explorers of the labyrinthine bat cave must don a headlight and crawl through an entrance to view replica stalactites and stalagmites.  Children are welcome to explore the beaver dam, and families can work as an archeological team in a fossil pit—first discovering, and then assembling, the skeleton of a black bear. 

Outdoors for Urbanites

PEEC is nestled in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, on the Pennsylvania side, 72 miles from Manhattan. It was established 41 years ago—on the grounds of the shuttered Honeymoon Haven resort—to give school children from New York and Philadelphia a place to explore in the outdoors. Its campus includes the main education building, in addition to lodges, cabins, yurts, and tent sites that can accommodate over 300 guests. These facilities are mostly geared toward group and school-run programs, but the trails are open to the public, and day- or weekend-long family events are held several times per month. 

The hiking trails vary in length from 1.5 miles to 4.5 miles. The descriptive trail guide available at the education center tells you what you should be looking for where, as indicated by numbers on the trees. The trails are all easy to moderately challenging, and according to Jeff Rosalsky, PEEC executive director, he used to take his children (now teenagers) all over them in all-terrain-type strollers. 

What You’ll See

In addition to a spectacular river gorge, you will find a tremendously varied forest, which, in turn, attracts a wide variety of birds. There are entire hemlock groves near streams, all manner of hardwoods—sugar maples, oaks, hickory—and enormous pine forests. The pine forests were originally planted for harvest, before the national park system acquired the land. While visiting, you may see bald eagles, any and all raptors—red-tailed hawks, golden eagles—great blue herons, and a full ensemble of song birds. 

Getting There

Once you get into New Jersey (we do this via I-95, over the George Washington Bridge) take I-80 West for 34 miles to Exit 15 N/Jefferson Sparta. Follow Route 15 North for less than a mile, then merge onto Route 206 North/Hampton House Road. Turn left onto County Road 560/Tuttles Corner. Stay on this for 5 miles, then continue onto State Route 739/Dingmans Turnpike. Turn right onto Brisco Mountain Road, which becomes Emery Road. Turn left to stay on Emery and you’re there. 

The trails around PEEC are always open and access is free. Check the website for family events and prices. 

What are your favorite day or weekend trips out of town?

 

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