Savor comfort food and fall’s beauty at new Thunderhead Lodge, a rustic retreat along the Appalachian Trail
Brisk weather, vibrant foliage and pent-up energy from a months-long lockdown comprise ideal conditions for an outdoor adventure this fall. So, take a hike!
No, seriously, lace up your hiking boots and head out to explore the Lehigh Valley’s many scenic trails.
For people who relish their outdoor feats with a side of tasty eats, a new dining destination in West Penn Township, near the Lehigh-Schuylkill County border, provides the perfect spot to satisfy both cravings.
Thunderhead Lodge, specializing in made-from-scratch American comfort food such as meatloaf, macaroni and cheese and turkey pot pie, opened in the spring at the former Blue Mountain Summit Restaurant at 2520 W. Penn Pike, right where the Appalachian Trail crosses Route 309.
“People can park in our lot and take a short path directly to the trail,” co-owner Meredith Prange said of the restaurant’s access to the iconic Maine-to-Georgia footpath. “We welcome a wide variety of hikers — from day hikers to through hikers — as we are in a very convenient place to refuel.”
Meredith and her husband, Stephen, bought the decades-old building in August 2019, with plans to renovate it and open their restaurant within six months.
The Lynn Township couple installed kitchen equipment, lighting fixtures, doors and a mahogany bar, serving a variety of wines, signature cocktails and bottle and draft beers. They also restored a stone fireplace and refurbished the original hardwood flooring.
“COVID delayed us a bit, but we eventually opened around early May,” Meredith said. “Fortunately, we installed our new patio in time for the yellow phase, which was a lifesaver. We can accommodate more than 100 customers outside.”
Thunderhead, named after the Pranges’ New Tripoli farm, offers socially distanced indoor seating for about 60 customers, with a bottle of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery hand sanitizer on each table.
Menu highlights include appetizers such as French onion soup and chili lime chicken fiesta salad; sandwiches such as a turkey club and “Buford” (barbecue pulled pork, crispy fried onions and more); and dinner entrees (available after 4 p.m.) such as crab cakes and Austrian braised beef short