A Family Road Trip Across Pennsylvania’s Route 6: Matamoras to Tunkhannock (Brought to You by the Route 6 Alliance)
This article is brought to you by the Route 6 Alliance and based on my travels of Route 6.
There’s nothing quite as American as a family road trip. However, there’s no need to head out west or to the beach for this summer’s road trip. Instead, get the family in the car, even bring along the family dog if you want, and head out for a great American road trip along Pennsylvania’s Route 6.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel across Route 6 with my wife, two-year old son, and dog, thanks to the Route 6 Alliance. We spent one week traveling this amazing route from the New York/Pennsylvania border in Matamoras to the Ohio/Pennsylvania border near Linesville. Along the way, we visited amazing natural sites, went to the beach, toured great museums, and ate delicious meals.
This three part series will cover what there is to see and do along the way (Read Part 2: Tunkhannock to Kane and Part 3: Kane to Meadville). I’ll also give some great dining and accommodation options. All of these places were kid and dog friendly, but you could certainly do this same trip without either in tow.
This edition of my guide to traveling Route 6 will cover the eastern third of the trip from the NY/PA border in Matamoras to Tunkhannock. This portion of the trip covers the first 100 miles or roughly a quarter of the trip across northern Pennsylvania.
While Matamoras is a nice little town, the first major stop for most traveling along Route 6 is Milford. Milford is the county seat of Pike County, Pennsylvania, and features small artist studios, antique shops, and several great restaurants. It is also the gateway to the fabulous Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation is a 70,000-acre park that straddles the Delaware River in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The northern portion of this beautiful area is located just south of Milford, offering road trippers easy access to the waterfalls, vistas, and hiking trails located here.
The Delaware Water Gap is home to Pennsylvania’s two tallest waterfalls, Raymondskill Falls and Dingmans Falls, as well as many lesser-known waterfall spots, such as George Childs Park and Tumbling Waters. (It’s worth noting for those traveling with a pet, that dogs are not allowed on the trails at Raymondskill Falls, Dingmans Falls, or George Childs Park.)
While you could spend several days hiking in the Delaware Water Gap, if you have time for just one hike, visit the Cliff Park Trail System. Those especially pressed for time can take the steep three-mile roundtrip hike up to Milford Knob along the Milford Knob Trail. This vantage point offers amazing views over downtown Milford and the Delaware River Valley. The road directly in front of you and far below is Route 6, making this a perfect trail with which to start your trip.
If you have more time, consider the 6-6.5 mile loop in the Cliff Park Trail System from the Cliff Park Trailhead. This will take you past the beautiful Hackers Falls, through beautiful forests, and past three additional overlooks before reaching Milford Knob.
If you’ve made a day of visiting the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, or just need somewhere to stay in the Milford area, the Harrington House is pet-friendly with pre-approval and offers a convenient place to stay in downtown Milford. This 1860’s Victorian bed and breakfast is located directly along Route 6 and offers a delicious breakfast to get you started on your journey.
Continuing on from Milford, don’t miss the amazing Shohola Falls. Located 10 miles west of downtown Milford along Route 6, Shohola Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Pennsylvania. At roughly 35-40 feet in height and at least that wide, this waterfall is well worth a quick stop along your Route 6 journey.
From the main parking area, it’s possible to get to a side view of this waterfall in just a couple of minutes. There is also a frontal view along a narrow ledge, but this viewpoint can be very slippery and dangerous when wet or icy.
A few more miles down Route 6 is Lake Wallenpaupack, one of the largest lakes in Pennsylvania. This area offers a variety of recreation options, and there are lake tours offered by boat. Hikers will enjoy Shuman Point Natural Area on the lake’s northwestern shores. This 250-acre natural area features fantastic views over the lake, forested hillsides, and the ruins of homes. A three-mile loop will take you through the area and offers a hike of great beauty that’s not very difficult.
On the eastern shores of the lake is Silver Birches Resort. This lake-front resort was recently remodeled and is one of the nicest places that I’ve stayed in Pennsylvania. I often get a bit nervous when a place calls itself “vintage.” However, Silver Birches has done it right, crafting a perfect combination of vintage and modern with quality touches. The resort offers a variety of places to stay and even has two dog-friendly rooms.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, The Dock is the restaurant at the Silver Birches. They offer a fantastic menu overlooking Lake Wallenpaupack. If you are looking for somewhere to relax and have a nice meal or a drink while watching the sunset, you can’t go wrong with a meal here.
If you can manage to pull yourself away from the beauty and fun of Lake Wallenpaupack, there is a lot more to see and do along Route 6. History and outdoor lovers will want to make sure that they visit D&H Canal Park at Lock 31 just past Hawley.
Here, visitors can see the remains of Lock 31 along the D&H Canal, which ran from the Hudson River in New York to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Prior to the railroad, this canal was an important avenue for coal producers to get their products from northeastern Pennsylvania to markets around the world.
At the park, visitors can see the well-preserved Lock 31 House, which served as an inn along the canal. The park has a short trail with interpretive panels that follows the remains of the canal. There is even access to a beautiful portion of the Lackawaxen River.
The next stop on our family road trip along Route 6 is Prompton State Park. Located just a bit west of the very cute Honesdale, Prompton State Park is often overlooked by visitors to this region of the state. However, the park features some great hiking trails and, in the northern portion of the park, a few nice waterfalls.
The waterfalls are along the Sidewinder Trail, which, when combined with the East Shore Trail and the Cliff Park Trail, provides an amazing hike through the forests of Wayne County, Pennsylvania. It’s worth noting that the waterfalls are only running at full capacity when water levels in the region are quite high, but it’s still a beautiful hike no matter what.
A few miles further west is the city of Carbondale. This community was home to the world’s first deep vein anthracite coal mine. The coal industry made Carbondale into a prosperous city, which is evident by the many beautiful buildings in the downtown area.
Taking the Carbondale Smartphone Walking Tour gives visitors a chance to learn more about the history of this community. The downtown area is very walkable with plenty of space for adults, children, and dogs to enjoy the area.
The walking tour covers more than half a dozen stops in downtown Carbondale. Some tell the history of the area’s community and industry, while one covers a UFO sighting in the town. All of them offer a unique look into the history of the community and provide visitors with a great chance to walk around this beautiful downtown area.
When leaving Carbondale, follow Business Route 6 southwest to Archbald Pothole State Park. This small park is home to a very large glacial pothole. While some say it just looks like a giant hole in the ground, its impressive size and unique geological history make it a nice, but very brief stop.
Continuing on, you have a choice. Route 6 continues south into Scranton before heading back northwest. In my previous visits to Scranton, I enjoyed stoping at Steamtown National Historic Site, the Everhart Museum, Nay Aug Falls, and other places in and around the city.
However, in the interest of time, many traveling across Route 6 take a shortcut north of Scranton, traveling between Carbondale and Clarks Summit.
No matter which route you choose, stopping at the Northern Electric Trolley Trail in Clarks Summit is a great place to stretch your legs. This trail follows the former path of the Northern Electric Trolley, which ran between Scranton and Montrose, Pennsylvania, from 1907-1932. While the trail might not be the most scenic or challenging hike in this portion of Pennsylvania, this trail is great for those looking for a nice walk through the woods with the family, somewhere easy to ride a bike, or a bit of exercise while doing a road trip.
Picking up Route 6 again in Clarks Summit, the road passes through Factoryville, birthplace of baseball legend Christy Mathewson, before finally pulling into Tunkhannock. Along the way, a detour to the amazing Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson is well worth the time. At one point, this was the world’s largest concrete structure, and it still carries trains over the valley today.
The last stop on this portion of the trip is Tunkhannock, the county seat of Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. This is a perfect spot to stay the night and offers a nice downtown with some delicious restaurants.
If you arrive early enough in the day, take the time to visit the Wyoming County Historical Society Museum or try some wine and beer at Nimble Hill Winery and Brewery, whose shop is on the outskirts of town.
A great place to spend the night is the Comfort Inn and Suites (affiliate link) on the opposite side of the Susquehanna River from downtown Tunkhannock. This hotel won the company’s Platinum Award for excellence and offers nice views of the Susquehanna River from some rooms. They also take dogs, which is a bonus for those wanting to travel with your pet.
A great dining option is Twigs Restaurant and Cafe. This restaurant offers delicious food in a well put together, but casual setting. A dinner in their front window, with a view of downtown Tunkhannock in front of you, is a perfect way to end a day traveling Route 6.
Once you reach Tunkhannock, you are approximately 100 miles from the start of Pennsylvania Route 6, and have roughly 300 miles still to travel to the Ohio border. Read Part 2, which covers the next portion of Route 6 from Tunkhannock to Kane and Part 3, which covers the western third from Kane to the PA/Ohio border west of Meadville.
This article is brought to you by the Route 6 Alliance and based on my travels of Route 6.