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Plan an adventure weekend on the waters of Luzerne County

When it comes time for a weekend of adventure, Luzerne County has you covered.

From whitewater to hiking, and craft brews to wines, Luzerne County has everything you need to create an action-packed getaway.

Luzerne County, located nearly four hours from Washington, D.C., has plenty of city attractions. But once you get outside of Wilkes-Barre, the ex-citement of the outdoors in Northeastern Pennsyl-vania opens up.

Early summer is a great time to be in Luzerne County, according to Janet Hall, who promotes the county. Throughout much of the summer, commu-nities hold festivals and bazaars, showcasing the civic spirit of the region.

“We have some of the best outdoor festivals,” she said.

 Right now, much of the action is on the water, where both whitewater lovers and casual kayakers can find ideal conditions. That’s especially true along the Lehigh River, where whitewater rafting trips are happening now through the middle of October.

“We are gearing up for a really good season,” said Nancy Pilecki, of Whitewater Challengers.  “We are ready to do some really good rafting.”

Whitewater Challengers offers a number of trip options for adventure seekers and families. The Lehigh River, normally a Class I or Class II river, becomes a bit more challenging when water is re-leased from an upstream dam. That creates an ad-ditional flow of water and, with it, more rapids.

“It puts more water in the river and adds to the excitement,” Pilecki said.

Insider tip: Dam release days are posted on the Whitewater Challengers website, but are most weekends during the summer and one weekend each in September and October.

The Lehigh River cuts through the Pocono Mountains on its way south to the Delaware River. In Luzerne County, much of the river is bordered by state parks, providing a secluded feel to river adventures.

Whitewater Challengers provides guided raft-ing excursions throughout the spring and summer. Rafts fit six people, and the entire journey is su-pervised by seasoned guides paddling alongside in kayaks. Whitewater Challengers provides all the necessary supplies to have a great time on the river.

“Our trips are geared for those 9 years old and up,” Pilecki said. “The guides are there to pro-vide the expertise and everything people need.” (

Bike along the river

After the fun on the water, there’s still plenty to explore in the Lehigh River region.

Whitewater Challengers offers mountain bike rentals for cyclists to use on the nearby Lehigh Gorge Trail. Bike, helmet, shuttle service, and bottled water are available for three rides of 9, 13, or 22 miles.

Each ride goes along the picturesque Lehigh River. The 22-mile ride goes from White Haven to the quaint town of Jim Thorpe. The trail ride is mostly level, following an old railroad grade, and passes two state parks and numerous scenic vistas.

Whitewater Challengers also rents out camp-ground space at its White Haven-based site, allowing for a weekend of activities throughout the summer months.

Enjoy libations, too

The Luzerne County area now boasts 11 breweries and wineries, each offering a unique spin on its craft.

One location, Susquehanna Brewery Com-pany, has strong roots in Northeastern Pennsyl-vania. It opened in 2010, but co-owners Ed and Fred Maier are descendants of the Stegmaier family, who owned a well-known regional brew-ery in Wilkes-Barre. That tradition of crafting tasty beers has continued at Susquehanna Brew-ing, which offers 11 beers on tap and free tours every Saturday. It also hosts events throughout the summer. (

Just a short drive away from Susquehanna Brewing, Sal Maiolatesi, the owner of Maiola-tesi Wine Cellars, offers dozens of white and red wines in his Tuscan-themed tasting room. Maiolatesi has been making wine for the past 30 years, perfecting the craft of turning Pennsylva-nia grapes into tasty libations.

Every Friday night, Maiolatesi Wine Cellars offers gourmet pizza served from a wood-fired oven. The combination of mouthwatering pizza, paired with the perfect wine, draws a crowd. Reservations are recommended. (

Reprint from Recreation News | Darrin Yorker

The tasting room at Susquehanna Brewing Company, where there’s a family tradition in the beer industry.

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