The Hidden Gem of Pocono Peak Lake

The Hidden Gem of Pocono Peak Lake

From the glacial bogs at Pocono Peak Lake in Lehigh Township flow the headwaters of the Lehigh River. The river, 109 miles long and the Delaware River’s second largest tributary, starts out less than a yard wide at the spillway of the lake’s dam.

“It’s the focal point of our community, our prime amenity,” says Dan Dougherty Jr., general manager at Pocono Springs Civic Association. “Without it, there’s no reason to have this place.”

Originally settled in the early 1920s as a cottage community, the larger community at the lake that started in the 1970s has changed names several times over the years as developers have come and gone. The sign carrying its previous name and slogan, Pocono Springs Estates – At Home with Nature, still stands. 

Mindful of its caretaker status of the source of the Lehigh, the PSCA has started a conservation committee and plans to retain a scientist who can study the lake “to make sure everything stays the way it should be,” Dougherty says.

There’s some concern that the bogs, which resemble islands in the middle of the lake, are expanding and overtaking the water.

“We don’t want to get rid of the bogs because they attract an abundance of wildlife,” Dougherty says. “We want to make sure we maintain them and the water quality of the lake itself.”

Pocono Peak Lake supports natural populations of several species of fish. And the residents appreciate the health and purity of the lake, which benefits from not having many tributaries coming into it, thereby avoiding runoff, he says.

Although the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat  Commission does not have a lot of stake in this body of water, because the lake is within a private, gated community with no public fishing or boating access, the commission’s officers have the authority to patrol the lake to enforce fishing and boating regulations. Every April, the association stocks the lake with trout. It’s been an annual tradition for the children in the community to carry buckets of the fish and dump them in the lake.

“It’s more fun to watch them stocking the fish than watch them catch the fish later,” says Doughty, adding that most of the trout are gone by summer. “That’s one of the highlights of our season.

The lake community is expansive, with 56 miles of roads and about 3,000 lots on 2,000 acres. However, there are only 636 homes.

“What’s nice about this development is that it’s not overly developed, and the homes aren’t stacked on top of each other,” he says. “You come in here and you feel like you’re in the mountains in the Poconos. The houses are nestled in the trees. We try and keep that mountain ambience.”

The array of wildlife making homes at the lake community is a reflection “of everything the Poconos has to offer—bear, fox, beavers, everything,” Doughty says. “It’s just so nice that, when you get off the highway, you know you’re definitely in the woods.”

“Everything that goes on in the Lehigh—from white water rafting to fishing—that water is coming from right there,” he says. “We’re the start of something big.”

“A river as large as the Lehigh supporting wild trout is something quite rare in the eastern United States,” says Mike Stanislaw, a director with the Lehigh Coldwater Fishery Alliance.

“It also has nearly unlimited public access through Hickory Run State Park, and downstream through the towns of Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Walnutport, and down to Northampton,” he adds. “The river also processes immense wild beauty and some locations, such as within Hickory Run State Park, a sense of remoteness rarely found in this part of country.”

Currently the PFBC stocks trout in the Lehigh River from the F.E.W. Dam downstream to where Sandy Run connects with the river. The commission also started stocking the Lehigh from Glen Onoko down to Jim Thorpe. Lehigh River Stocking Association stocks thousands of quality trout in the river each spring from Jim Thorpe to Northampton as well.

“Spring is the best time of year to target trout, as the trout aggressively feed on the many hatches of aquatic insects,” Stanislaw says. “As water temperatures rise above 70 in mid-June, it’s best to give the trout a break, as the warm water temperatures will stress trout, a coldwater species, until temperatures drop in the early fall.”

“The Lehigh also is an excellent river to use a western style drift boat for fishing,” Stanislaw says. “This gives you access to float many miles of river in a day. There are public ramps along the river, which allow you to make a short or longer outing possible. Also with the increase in angler traffic, several fishing guide services are now available to take care of everything needed to get out and enjoy a day fishing on the Lehigh.”

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