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Located in Pennsylvania's Northeast Mountains, Lake Henry is one of the better-kept secrets of the Poconos. At 310 acres, the lake is known by at least two other titles, thoroughly confusing those asking for directions. Located near the Village of Maplewood, many call it Maplewood Lake. Some of the private cottage owners who rent their properties to vacationers call it Blueberry Lake. And, although the lake sits on the border between Wayne and Lackawanna Counties, the lake is entirely within Wayne County - a fact that even confounds some of the residents. Many mapping programs mis-identify the area, marking it as somewhere around Lake Ariel. Lake Henry addresses are, in fact, in the Lake Arial zip code, but Lake Arial is about five miles east of Lake Henry. For a lake less than 20 miles east of Scranton, Lake Henry has managed to escape heavy development pressure partly because of the confusion. Residents and visitors here aren't confused, though; they've been enjoying Lake Henry for over a hundred years!
An all-sports lake, Lake Henry is primarily a residential lake. It is the second largest lake in the county, second only to Lake Wallenpaupack. There has never been much commercial development at Lake Henry, allowing it to keep its pristine rural flavor. Many homes have existed along the shoreline nearly since the original pond was first dammed to create the lake. Lakelubbers enjoy swimming, powerboating, water skiing, tubing, pontooning, canoeing and kayaking along the four miles of shoreline. Only three to five feet in depth at the south end of the lake, depths reach 30 feet at the north end. This variety of depths and underwater structure makes the lake prime ground for fishermen to pursue smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, perch, catfish, crappie, bluegills, and sunfish.
Much of the shoreline, including the dam, is owned and controlled by the Lake Henry Cottagers Association. Private ownership maintains a boat launch, campground and small resort-style vacation park along the west shore. There is no other official public access, but the campground/resort rents rowboats and allows boat access for a nominal fee. The lake still holds many underwater stumps left standing when the lake was dammed sometime after 1860.
The lake itself was originally a smaller water body called Silkmans Pond. Named after local businessman Henry Silkman, a tributary of Jones Creek flowing out of the pond was dammed to create the larger lake. Mr. Silkman was an avid fisherman and stocked the lake with a variety of fish, the offspring of which likely inhabit the waters today. The area that was eventually flooded appears to have been a peat bog and has given rise to the most unusual feature of Lake Henry: the floating islands. Several boggy floating islands are semi-permanently in place in the lake, although not firmly attached to the lake bottom. At least once in recent history, the largest island broke free during a storm and crushed a couple of shoreline docks. Local residents managed to 'tow' the island with motor boats and pontoons farther south on the lake where it eventually became lodged near a cove called the 'Stump Pond'. The islands serve as nesting grounds for waterfowl and are a delightful piece of local lake lore that residents very much enjoy.
Immediately east of the long, narrow lake, State Game Area 310 contains 1,120 acres of wildlife habitat and nature watching opportunities. A two-and-a-half-mile section of abandoned railroad bed is accessible via SR 3016 for horseback riding and bicycling, while most of the area is open to foot traffic. The wetlands near the lake provide feeding habitat to eagles, herons and a variety of fishing birds. Roads are quiet and often deserted, offering fine opportunities for hiking, cycling and bird watching. A number of activities are scheduled at Lake Henry itself. The campground/resort acts as the social center of the lake and provides such activities as Campfire Music nights, outdoor movies, an Arts & Crafts Festival, hot air balloon ride weekend, nature education series, and activities for children.
In nearby Scranton, railroad buffs can enjoy the Steamtown National Historic Site, take the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour or enjoy the Harry Houdini Tour, Show and Museum. Nearby casinos and harness racing venues provide adult entertainment. In winter, cross-country skiing and ice fishing are favorite cold-weather activities. Two downhill ski resorts are about an hour's drive of the lake. The Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area is filled with museums, historic buildings and entertainment options.
Less than 20 miles to the northeast, Honesdale offers train excursions to Lackawaxen on the Delaware River, with its quaint Victorian charm and Zane Grey Museum. A number of golf courses, small town museums and interesting shops and art galleries are interspersed between plenty of antique shops, local restaurants and farm markets. Every family member will find plenty of activities to both match their existing interests and encourage them to embrace new ones. Every possible outdoor activity and hobby can be indulged in somewhere near Lake Henry. Set within the seemingly endless Pocono Mountains, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, photography, nature observation and bird watching. Plentiful public lands are available for hunting in season. Wayne County is home to more lakes than any other county in the state, so fishing and water activities abound throughout the county.
Real estate opportunities exist at Lake Henry, although nearly always in the form of existing homes. Lodgings for visitors include private home rentals and park cabin rentals at the campground, with bed-and-breakfasts, motels and cabins nearby to suit every need. So come and hide out in plain sight at Lake Henry; there are activities to suit vacationers in every season. Bring the fishing gear, or the kayak or the hiking boots. Better yet, bring them all . . .and stay long enough to make Lake Henry your own.
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