Birds, Butterflies and Blueberries At The Pennsylvania State Game Lands

We had clear skies and sunshine  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania last Sunday and I decided to drive to my new found hiking area in the State Game Lands 119. Located about 35  minutes from my house, on the edge of the Pocono Plateau, these woodlands remind me of the woods near my home that I hiked all of my life, until they were lost to land development.gate to trail on game lands

As I exited my jeep I noticed a number of butterflies fluttering on the ground and found they were enjoying one of their favorite foods, fox or coyote droppings. I believe these are spicebush swallowtail butterflies.spicebush swallowtails on coyote droppings

I walked north on the old railroad right of way into the game lands finding plenty  of now ripe low bush blueberries, or, as we called them huckleberries. The high bush, or “swamper” blueberries were also beginning to ripen now.  In my parents generation picking these berries and selling them supplemented the meager income of many coal mining families. I spent many hours and days picking them as a child. I continued to pick many quarts a year to supply my mom and aunts with the berries for pies, muffins and cakes but they are now too old to bake and I haven’t been out picking as much these past few years. .highbush blueberries or swampers

I decided to walk the more wooded path that led to The D&L trail. It was a narrow path through  scrub oaks, blueberry bushes and ferns growing  in the wetlands on both sides of the trail. grassy trail on state game lands

I decided to walk  this trail despite the numerous ticks I encountered on my last hike , I removed 18 of them that had crawled on me, hoping to see some wildlife in the wetlands. fern in sunlight

I was rewarded with my first sighting of this beautiful bird, a Canada warbler. It was an elusive bird and I followed it’s fluttering through the thick scrub oaks or about 15 minutes until I was able to get some photographs. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful bird. warbler in tree

I also saw another elusive bird, which my birding friends helped me identify, an immature oven bird. oven bird in tree

And, as they are found almost everywhere here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, there were a number of catbirds in the woods along the trail. I observed a pair that were traveling together and they were much more quiet than usual. I suspect they had a nest nearby. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. on tree branch

I followed the trail as it proceeded  downward  and crossed this little stream, one of the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek. I thought to myself  how the water flowing beneath my feet would find it’s  way to the Nescopeck Creek, the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean, and eventually evaporate and once again fall as rain. We live on a wonderful planet. stream crossing road

As I stepped over the stream I spotted this fellow enjoying the cool waters. frog in stream

The woods along the trail grew thickerferns and trees along trail

and there were older hemlock and oak trees now shading the sun. sun filtering through leaves of large old oak tree

Eventually the wooded path intersected with the wider and more used D & L trail that will soon  lead to Easton . I encountered many folks walking and even more riding on bicycles on the trail and enjoying the intense early July sunshine.D&L rails to trails path

Along the trail were many patches of milkweed flowers that are now in bloom. And, milkweed flowers attract butterflies and there were plenty of than fluttering about, including the beautiful eastern tiger swallowtails.eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on milkweed flower

 the Aphrodite fritillary butterflies Aphrodite fritillary butterfly on milkweed flower

and the spicebush swallowtail butterfly with another eastern tiger swallowtail. .swallow tail butterflies on milkweed flower

And the butterflies weren’t just found on the milkweed flowers as this common buckeye butterfly was found on a    leaf common buckeye butterfly on leaf

I walked the trail up about a half mile and come to the scenic Moosehead lake. I was hoping to see an eagle or an osprey, or as least some water birds but there I didn’t see anything on the lake on Sunday. view of moosehead lake

I walked to the wetlands on the other side of the lake where, while enjoying this view,  I met three bikers from Moldavia, Lithuania and Ukraine. They were  biking from Glen Summit  to  Jim Thorpe.  We had an interesting conversation about the beauty of our planet and what a small world it is, having just returned from  my visit to  neighboring Poland. water lily covered pond along trail

The sun was now intense and I decided to begin my journey back to my jeep. It was an uphill hike and a much more difficult walk. Still I enjoyed it observing more butterflies, blueberries and birds on the way, including another species of butterfly, I believe this is a clouded sulphur butterfly.

And there were a few dragonflies hovering about as I walked through some wetlands. 

I am really starting to love these trails, and hope to hike and explore them for many years to come,  but I still wish I could hike the trails of my childhood on Stony Mountain. Those were the days. Here are some more photographs from my hike in the Pennsylvania game lands.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” 
― Chris MaserForest Primeval

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A Hike In The Poconos But Still No Mountain Laurel.

It was another overcast Sunday this past weekend  , with some showers still in the area in the morning. I had planned to hike the Broad Mountain, where I knew  from past hikes the widespread mountain laurel , our state flower, would be in bloom. The radar showed some lingering showers over the Broad Mountain so I decided to drive further north and hike in State Game Lands 119, hoping to find plenty of mountain laurel in bloom.

As I drove on Interstate Highway 81 I passed many woodlands and  entire mountainsides covered in laurel and I hoped to find the same at the gamelands. Shortly after beginning my hike I realized this may not be the case. The wood were green and lush, but like the day before, may have been too overgrown  to support the growth of the state flower. 

It was overcast but still a nice morning for a walk.  There were some flowers in bloom, not as  showy as the mountain laurel, but pretty in their own way, such as the stargrass,

and spiderwort that were scattered along the path. 

The trees overhead were filled with the song of birds. I heard yellow warblers during my entire hike but this tiny birds were well hidden in the now lush green leaves of the tree tops. I did quite a few male eastern towhees perched high in the branches. 

I just learned that  the males  leave the safety of the underbrush , where I have seen many of them over the years picking blue berries and mushrooms, to find a high perch to sing and attract a mate. 

I saw, and heard, so  many other birds fluttering in the tree tops and scrub oaks but it is so hard to photograph them. After waiting for about 10 minutes I was finally able to capture a photograph of this common yellow throat. 

I walked past the gas line that was on the left as I approached from the parking area. I had followed this gas line down to the D & L trail on my last three hike in the game lands but this time I continued along on the trail that followed  an old railroad bed.

There were plenty of low bush blueberries along the trails, and I found a few that had ripened. I usually am picking my first ripe ones near the summer solstice. They were delicious. 

Also blooming now is the fly poison, this pretty white flowers are actually very toxic and was used by American colonists to kill flies. 

The trail crossed over the head waters of the Little Nescopeck Creek.

And there were quite a few robins in this area. 

The trail was almost a continuous, but slight upgrade. As I approached the top of a ridge the trees became older. There were some nice old oak and hemlock trees up here.  

I hiked out about three miles. Just as I decided to turn back the sun broke through the clouds bringing out the many shades of green in the lush new growth of the woodlands. 

As I walked under the trees I heard the high pitched call of an osprey and sure enough saw this one fly overhead. 

And I also saw a pair of Baltimore orioles fluttering in a tree. 

They flew from branch to branch  and I think they must have had a nest in the tree. 

I continued to hear the sounds of many different songbirds in the trees but had a hard time finding them in the leaves. I was able to see, and photograph this catbird  who had captured a caterpillar. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike.

I walked back to my jeep in the brilliant June sunshine disappointed that I wasn’t able to find any stands of our state flower, the mountain laurel. Still it was a nice hike in these game lands which, I am growing to love more with each hike I take.

I drove my jeep on the long dirt road from  the parking area to the little quaint resort town of Penn lake. So many beautiful places here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and not enough time to explore them all. But I will try. Here is a link to some more  photographs from my hike.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche





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Another Hike In The State Game Lands: There Really Is a Cuckoo Bird. I Saw My First One Today!

It was a chilly and windy start today, temperatures in the mid 40’s here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  But we had some sun, which is always a good thing, but even more so in May.  I decided to hike out in the State Game lands, 119 out in Dennison Township. state game lands -1

I always enjoyed hiking in the woods. I would spend hours hiking the woods near my house as a child and young adult. Although I had no camera,  nor was there any internet, I still loved to share stories of what I found with my dad, my family and my friends.state game lands -4

So the tradition continues, with a larger audience   on my blog and Facebook page. .  Today, after leaving my jeep,  the  first thing I saw was a bald eagle. He swooped down over the hill before I could get a photograph.  Shortly afterward I saw a much smaller, yet still beautiful bird,  high in the treetops, a scarlet tanager. I have seen quite a few this year.state game lands birds -5

I decided to take the same hike as I did the first time I visited here two weeks ago and hike up to the gas line and followe it to the D & L trail.state game lands -1

There were still plenty of flowers on the high bush blueberry bushes. It  looks like it will be a  great crop this year. state game lands -15

I saw a few wild flowers too, the May flowers were scattered about,state game lands -21

as were the fringed polygala.state game lands -22

I only saw one of these, a painted trillium, one of my favorites. state game lands -25

The pink azalea were just starting to bloom up at these higher elevations. it’s like getting a second Spring up here. state game lands -18

I made my way to the D & L trail where I found a nice bunch of oyster mushrooms growing on a fallen tree. I didn’t bring a knife or bag but stuffed a few in my pockets. I love these mushrooms. They have an anise flavor. I just had them for dinner and they were delicious. state game lands -28

I walked the trail up to Moosehead lake again seeing a few birds along the way including this one, I think a female rose breasted grosbeak. state game lands birds -16

I was disappointed to not find any water fowl on the lake but sat and enjoyed the view for a bit. state game lands -31

It clouded up now, and got very windy. The wind created a tick problem. The narrow trail through the thick brush and overhanging trees caused many of them to be blown on me. I pulled of 18 of them today. state game lands -14

I walked the same trail back and I was fortunate to see this bird in a tree.Yellow billed cucko -7

I didn’t know what it was when I saw it but I have learned it is a yellow billed cuckoo. It was a beautiful bird and was the first time I ever heard of or saw one. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful bird. billed cucko -3

I didn’t see a single mammal on the hike, not a deer, bear, squirrel or even a chipmunk, although I heard a lot of them.  state game lands -13

I saw a lot more birds on the way back, orioles, robins, sparrows, American redstarts and even a few black-capped chickadees. Some I was able to photograph, others flew away before I could. But I enjoyed seeing everyone of them. Here is a link to some more of the birds I was able to photograph on my hike.–1state game lands birds -14

I returned to my jeep and did a thorough tick check before I entered my jeep. Even with the frustration from the many ticks, it was still a great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.

state game lands birds -29

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

—Rachel Carson,state game lands birds -26




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Most Of The Snow Is Gone, But Still It’s Not Looking Like Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The bitter cold arctic weather we have had after the snow storm last week left the area yesterday. It was a mild 55 degrees near my house, here,  in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  this morning.  I decided to head  to the PPL Wetlands, along the Susquehanna River., about 25 miles from my home.  It is at a lower elevation  and  it is usually warmer there.  I hoped all of the snow cover would be gone. PPL Wetlands -29

I arrived at the wetlands under cloudy skies and was surprised to find the temperature a much cooler 43 degrees. Fortunately, most of the heavy snow cover , almost 20 inches, had melted leaving behind a lot of mud and some flooded paths.PPL Wetlands -7

It sure didn’t look like Spring in the wetlands. In fact, it was more springlike in January and February this year than it was today.  PPL Wetlands -5

There were no turtles along the ponds nor was the sound of the spring peeper frogs heard. And  the skunk cabbage, which were pushing through the soil in late January  hadn’t grown, and in fact a lot of their leaves were damaged by the heavy snow. They are hardy plants, often pushing there way through, and melting the snow cover, but 20 inches of late snow was too much, even for them. And the snow must have been hard on  the wildlife too, I have never seen  a partially eaten skunk cabbage  before. PPL Wetlands -10

It was still brown and barren along the ponds and canals, with only the maples showing some signs of putting forth buds. PPL Wetlands -3

There was, however, plenty of wildlife activity. I scared two deer,   or I should say we scared each other, as we met unexpectedly on one of the paths.  They took off in opposite directions. PPL Wetlands -6

I also saw many ducks on the ponds and canals. Wood ducks, and a few other species I couldn’t identify, including many like these two,   eluded my camera, taking off before I could photograph them. PPL Wetlands birds -3

The mallard  ducks were not so easily scared and I watched and photographed quite a few of them along the canals . PPL Wetlands -24

And, of course there were plenty of  Canada geese.PPL Wetlands birds -10

As I walked to the river lands side of the preserve, I saw quite a few birds too, including, I think,  this song sparrow as well as a few beautiful  blue birds, one is shown above as the featured image of this post. PPL Wetlands birds -16

Overhead, I saw this sea gull soaring through the cloudy sky. PPL Wetlands birds -10

And this, I believe, cormorant.PPL Wetlands birds -9

There were a few folks walking along the always peaceful shores of Lake Took-A-While and I stopped to enjoy the scenery too. PPL Wetlands -19

I ran into a lot more mud, and snow,  as the trail continued east toward and would wind it’s way down to the river.PPL Wetlands -22

I  found my waterproof shoes were taking on water and noticed  a small tear in the stitching. It was time to head back.  You will notice I also had shorts on, not a good idea in the colder temperatures along the river.  PPL Wetlands -12

The abundance of mud, I believe, was  also the reason for the abundance of this welcome Spring birds, the robins. There were  many of them hopping on the ground in search of  a meal. PPL Wetlands birds -8

I made my way back to the wetlands and continued to see plenty ducks and geese on the canals and ponds. And along the path there was also a lot of  bird activity. I heard the rapping of many woodpeckers and saw a few, such as, I believe, this downy woodpecker. PPL Wetlands birds -13

And they left some tangible evidence of their activity, like these newly created holes in a tree along the path. PPL Wetlands -20

I also came upon, mainly in heavily wooded areas, some ponds that were still frozen over,  due to being shaded fro the strengthening March sun. Hopefully, next time I visit this I will see turtles and frogs in this pond. PPL Wetlands -28

I made my way back to my car, walking along the Susquehanna River. I continued to see, and hear, many species of birds, including nuthatches, robins, sparrows, and woodpeckers including a pileated and this, I believe to be, a red bellied woodpecker. Here is a link to some more photographs of the many birds I encountered on my hike. Wetlands birds -21

I also ran into a father with his two young sons, maybe two and three years old. He had binoculars and was also watching the birds and other wildlife, and passing his love for nature on to his boys. It was a nice encounter and  reminded me of my dad taking me and my brothers on our first walks into the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and it was one of the best lessons I ever had. Thanks dad. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in the wetlands. Wetlands birds -7

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews 





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Cemeteries, Reclamation and Some Beautiful Scenery Near Upper Lehigh.

It was a clear and cold morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania today and I decided to take advantage of the clear blue skies and great visibility  and hike to someplace with a view. I decided to walk out to what is know as the “washout” on the mountain  north of the old mining village of Upper Lehigh.  I hiked out here before, but  in the past I hiked out  to the east through old abandoned strip mines. This morning I parked on a dirt road outside of Upper Lehigh. Upper lehigh  (44 of 44)

I heard of an old cemetery near here and decided to look for it on my hike. After walking through some old roads I found the abandoned cemetery. I did some research and learned  it was laid out in 1866. Upper lehigh Cemetery  (19 of 39)

I found that most of the legible headstones  were from the 1870’s. I always loved visiting cemeteries and reflecting on the lives of the departed. So many memories here. this one appears to have been abandoned in the 1920’s.  There was this  Memorial to the Civil War Veterans of the town placed here in the 1880’s. Upper lehigh Cemetery  (2 of 39)

And I found this tombstone of a young infant girl who only lived a few months. I wonder how the parents dealt with that loss so many years ago. And how many years did they come and visit their little girl after she was gone.Upper lehigh Cemetery  (6 of 39)

So much to ponder as I walked amid the weathered tombstones, as, appropriately, a lone raven cawed in the distance.  Upper lehigh Cemetery  (17 of 39)

Most of the tombstones were from the 1870’s through the 1920’s although I saw one new one at the far end of the cemetery. It was the only new one in the cemetery and the birth years were most interesting to me. They were the same year my dad was born, 1924, my mom in 1929 and the year of my birth 1958. I decided to head out here when I  was visiting my dad’s grave this morning and I feel he wanted me to hike out here. Look’s like I was right. Here are some more photographs from my visit to the Upper Lehigh cemetery this morning. lehigh Cemetery  (34 of 39)

I left the cemetery and walked some old paths that were lined with very old oak trees. It was like the old forest in the Wizard of Oz. I would love to hike here in the summer. Upper lehigh  (11 of 44)

The old road or  path proceeded  up the mountain and headed north toward the “washout”.Upper lehigh  (39 of 44)

I was surprised to see that the entire area was changed and that  a rock channel was built to prevent the erosion from the streams running off of the mountain from the srip mining area. Upper lehigh  (17 of 44)

I stopped to admire the spectacular view of the mountains to the west. The lake at Beach mountains  was a dark blue under the December sun.  I could spend hours taking in this scenery. I love the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Upper lehigh  (26 of 44)

I hiked east toward the deep strip mines I had explored a few years ago and found that the vast majority of them had been reclaimed.  I understand that by filling in the deep mines and leveling the culm, slate and overburden reduces erosion and prevents acid mine drainage into the streams and creeks but I still feel sad to see this part of our heritage lost. This was one of the last strip mine pits that wasn’t yet filled.Upper lehigh  (33 of 44)

I had planned to look for fossils and crystals in these deep strip mines.  Looks like I won’t get the chance now. I relearned a lesson my dad taught me, not to put things off, since you may never get another  the opportunity once it is gone.Upper lehigh  (43 of 44)

It was a long, and reflective hike back to my jeep but no better place to spend a sunny December day than exploring the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning. lehigh  (6 of 44)


“It is upon such stones that men attempt to permanently etch history so they will not exist in a vacuum; it is the final statement after a lifetime of scratching out divisions upon the ground, over ephemeral time itself, merely to give their short journeys meaning, to tell others “I was here – do not forget me, do not let my brief blast dissolve into nothingness.”
Rob Bignell


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Coal May Not Be King In Northeastern Pennsylvania,Anymore, But It Still Is Here.

It was a cold and windy day last Sunday and I  decided to investigate  the massive  piles of earth I saw  near  some old strip mines near McAdoo on my hike the previous Sunday. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo   (19 of 59)

I parked in McAdoo near the house where I was born. I walked out the railroad tracks my grandfather first took me  picking huckleberries (blueberries) when I was little over a year old,  much to the dismay of my parents. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo   (7 of 59)

I headed north and east along the railroad tracks and found a old road that passed through  the huge strip mines to the east.  As I neared some electric power lines I saw a helicopter hovering near one of the towers. I was surprised to find that the helicopter, with a very brave man on an attached platform, were working on the tower lines.  I watched the pilot position his helicopter to allow the man to perform his job in the strong gusty winds. I watched them over the next few hours as i walked in this area. Pretty amazing, and dangerous, work, I am sure. Here is a link to some more photographs of the helicopter.  hike helicopter 109 (1 of 1)

I walked to the huge mountains of earth and discovered that there is an active strip mine going on in the area. This area was between the coal patch towns of Jeanesville, Beaver Brook  and Yorktown. The first mines were underground and would go on for miles.  Later, steam shovel, moved the overburden and  the coal was strip mined. The village of Yorktown was moved because ot the strip mining and no longer exists. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo   (29 of 59)

I hiked to  the top one of the mountains of earth and enjoyed some spectacular views of the surrounding areas. This photographs is looking at the many factories that were built on the Green mountain in the humboldt Industrial park to the west.  Both my grandparents families, my mom’s from McAdoo, and my dad’s from Crystal Ridge picked huckleberries (blueberries) on this mountain. This is a link to some more photographs from the strip mines.  hike McAdoo   (48 of 59)

I walked into the patch town of Jeanesville in Luzerne County, once a busy mining town with a large iron factory nearby. I made a quick visit to the old cemetery. Lot of old graves in here and this will be another blog post. Here is a link to some more photographs from the cemetery. hike  jeanesvill cemetery  (13 of 16)

I then walked into the village of Tresckow in Carbon County, a small town also associated with the coal mining in the area. I have been here many times before but never walked through this quaint little town.  I have heard many stories of the town, and the waterfalls nearby from my mom.McAdoo-Tresckow hike  Tresckow   (2 of 14)

She would often walk here from her home in McAdoo a few miles to the west.  I called here about some relatives in the cemetery in the town and she town me they would take a shortcut through the woods to get to McAdoo. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike through Tresckow. hike  Tresckow   (12 of 14)

So, of course, I found an old road and followed it hoping to get back to McAdoo and my car. Unfortunately, the path took m up some stip mines and out of my way but found some interesting old strip mines, including this large pit near the railroad tracks. The sheer rock walls here over a hundred feet to the bottom. Still a very dangerous place, and no place to play around in, especially for the children in the area. McAdoo-Tresckow  hike McAdoo strip mine  (31 of 32)

I made my way back to my car.  i didn’t see much wildlife on my hike, a few crows, bluejays and a lot of these friendly little critters, black capped chickadees. It was a great day and enjoyed exploring the old cola mining areas as well as the new strip mine occurring in the area. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike through the woods to McAdoo.  hike McAdoo  chickadee (1 of 1)


My great-grandfather was a coal miner,
who worked in Pennsylvania mines when carts were pulled
by mules and mines were lit by candles.
Mining was very dangerous work then.
– Tim Murphy

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A Fall Walk On The Railroad. And A Lot Of History Along These Old Tracks.

It was sunny and cold this morning, a perfect day for a fall hike. I decided to walk the railroad tracks from near the old mining patch town of Hazel Brook  down to the Pennrose Reservoir near Weatherly. I had planned to drive my jeep out to the railroad track but found the old mining roads blocked with a gate. Ashmore yard and rails  (48 of 48)

I now had to change my plans since it is about a 1 1/2 mile walk to the tracks from the gate. I decided I wouldn’t make it to the Pennrose Reservoir so I decided to first check out the old major railroad junction, first known as  lumber Yards and than, when it became a repair shop for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Ashmore Yards. Ashmore yard and rails  (1 of 48)

I walked through some old strip mines and the culm, slate and waste associated with the same. I grew up in these abandoned strip mines and find them to be pleasantly nostalgic. We would explore the ruins looking for quartz crystals, coal, and fossils. We built forts and imagined we were soldiers, space explorers, caveman or just about anything else a group of young boys can imagine. Ashmore yard and rails  (6 of 48)

I got onto the railroad tracks, built long ago to haul coal from the deep underground mines and found they are once again, almost 150 years later still being used to transport coal from newly opened strip mines near Stockton. This operation wasn’t here  when I last hiked here about a year ago.Ashmore yard and rails  (11 of 48)

I then walked to the famous junction, Lumber yards and later the Ashmore yards junction.  Here is a quote from the 1893 History of Luzerne County .

“Lumber Yards is a junction where the railroad forks, one branch going to Weatherly and the other to White Haven; a neat little station house and a few dwellings near by.”

The station and dwellings are long gone, replaced by machine shops and famous roundhouse operated by the Lehigh Valley Railroad. These too are long gone but the memories remain.  Ashmore yard and rails  (13 of 48)

I walked the still active railroad south and east and passes another sad reminder of our past, the site of the former Beryllium plant, now a federal superfund site. Like many of the coal miners who developed black lung from exposure to coal dusts in the mines many men developed the often lethal beryllium disease. I wouldn’t drink the water in this area. Ashmore yard and rails  (19 of 48)

I walked  down the tracks and past the former plant along  the heavily wooded and beautiful hills drained by the headwaters of the Hazel or Black creek.  There is also history here., On the older topographic maps, the area near where the Dreck Creek enters into the Hazel Creek is referred to as Indian Springs.Ashmore yard and rails  (43 of 48)

I believe the Native Americans followed the Black Creek up from the Lehigh River and then up either the Dreck, Hazel or Black creeks and down into the Sugarloaf Valley to meet up with The Nescopeck Creek and eventually get to the Susquehanna River. Ashmore yard and rails  (30 of 48)

I like to think I was looking on, and enjoying,  the same views many a Native American enjoyed for so many generations. Imagine the unspoiled beauty of the ancient trees, home to deer, bear, bobcats, wolves and elk they walked by in this same area. Ashmore yard and rails  (24 of 48)

I walked up to the top of a hill, I was there this past Summer, on a walk up from Pennrose and again sat and listened to the wind and distant rushing of the waters of the Hazel or Black Creek.   Ashmore yard and rails  (33 of 48)

I walked down to the pole line that intersects the railroad track and decided I had better turn back. I am glad I did since it was a steady four mile climb back up to Hazel Brook. I only encountered few birds, sparrow, blue jays a some junco and this young curious buck, on my entire hike. It was still a great day to be out and about in Northeastern PA.Ashmore yard and rails deer 2 (1 of 1)

Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning. yard and rails  (42 of 48)

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. ~Henry David Thoreau


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Bear Creek Preserve: Shades Creek Hike.

Since we still haven’t had any substantial rain, and it is very dry in the woods, I thought maybe walking along a creek may help me in my search for some edible mushrooms, especially the delicious hen of the woods or, as known around here, the ramshead mushroom. Bear Creek Preserve (3 of 39)

I decided to explore the Bear Creek preserve again, this time along the Shades Creek. I left the parking area and first headed up a slight grade under  new growth maple and oak trees. The path then went down toward the creek under older and larger oak, beech and maple trees Bear Creek Preserve (2 of 39)

I crossed the Shades Creek over a narrow bridge and found myself in a mixed oak/hemlock/ beech forest. The path proceeded under very large, old gnarled rhododendron. Bear Creek Preserve (8 of 39)

I was surprised to find quite a few species of mushrooms growing along the creek. I thought there may be a few growing due to the proximity of the creek but there were a lot more than I expected, including these pretty jack-o-lanterns. Bear Creek Preserve (15 of 39)

The path continued in the woods and i kicked up a few pheasants and chipmunks but that was about it for the wildlife, except for this young toad. I was happy to not see any mosquitoes, ticks or gnats. Bear Creek  toad  062 (1 of 1)

I knew there was a waterfall along the stream but I didn’t see it. The path moved away from the creek into deeper hemlock trees. I am sure some of these old timers were first growth trees and survived the ax of the lumbermen. They were probably saplings when only Native Americans walked these woods. Bear Creek Preserve (16 of 39)

The path did get rocky and steep in spots but it was still a well maintained and relatively easy trail to hike. I would have liked to make it ti Bear Creek but didn’t have the time today so headed back up the trail.  I didn’t find any edible mushrooms but still was a nice hike along the Shades Creek. I will be back for sure. Here is a link to some more photographs taken on my hike this morning.

Bear Creek Preserve (22 of 39)

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
Henry David Thoreau,


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Seven Tubs Nature Area

I had some business to take care of in the Wilkes Barre area today so I decided to visit a place I haven’t been since my college days, the Seven Tubs Nature Area.

Located a few miles outside of Wilkes Barre, the tubs were created by glaciers during the last ice age. When I last visited the area it was not a park and we hiked through the woods to get to the tubs.

There are now  a number of trails along the two streams in this area, Deep Hollow and  Laurel Run.  I wasn’t venturing into the tubs, in fact, I don’t think it is allowed anymore, but there where a lot of folks on the trail and sitting by the streams soaking there feet in the cool waters. Seven tubs  (6 of 26)

I hiked down to a bridge over one of the streams with a nice view of one of the waterfalls. Seven tubs  (25 of 26)


I then hiked up to where the stream flows from underneath a railroad track. The recent rains filled the streams and also resulted in many species of mushrooms to sprout along the trails. The photo below is an old man of the woods bolete. Seven tubs  (15 of 26)


I stopped a few times along the trails and streams to take in the relaxing sounds of the flowing water. This is a link to a video of one of the waterfalls.

I hiked up the blue marked trial into some higher pine  woodlands. I wish I had more time to explore but had to head home.Seven tubs  (16 of 26)


It was a nice hike and glad I returned to this beautiful natural area, one of the many we have here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For you folks living here get out there and explore their beauty, we are blessed to have them.Seven tubs  (24 of 26)


This is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike today tubs  (21 of 26)


You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.  ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Bear Creek Preserve, Another Gem In Our Midst.

After my wonderful experience discovering and exploring the Picton Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday I decided to check out another land trust nature preserve in our area, the Bear Creek Preserve.

The preserve is located along the southern side of Route 115, about 5 miles east of the borough of Bear Creek, about a half hours drive from my home in Bear Creek preserve  (1 of 59)HazleTownship.

It was a chilly for  a June morning but the sun was shining making for perfect hiking weather.  After parking  near the gate to an  access road  I hiked up the access road to  the marked yellow/red loop trail.  As soon as I  entered the woods on the narrow trail I was overwhelmed and delighted  by the amount of mountain laurel surrounding the trail.   I have hiked many years and miles in Northeastern Pennsylvania but never saw as much mountain laurel as I did today.   The mountain  laurel was just beginning to  bloom but it was still heavenly. . It will be spectacular in a few days when they are in peak bloom. I have always loved our state flower and here it was in it’s full glory.   It was abundant everywhere on my 7 mile hike this morning. Bear Creek preserve  (38 of 59)

I followed the yellow/red loop trail to the green loop trail and hiked down a fairly steep grade , passing a few creeks bubbling out of the ground  and  a coning  nice little waterfall.  Here is a  Youtube link to a video I took at one of the streams I crossed  .  I sat for a bit at the waterfall and continued on the green/red loop trail until they separated and I followed the red loop trail. Bear Creek preserve  (44 of 59)

The   trail got a little wet and rocky as it descended downward. It ran along a rock ledge for a bit and it looked like perfect rattlesnake habitat. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any rattlers but did encounter a few garter and eastern brown snakes. The trees and mountain laurels along the trail were filled with the songs of birds. The heavy tree cover kept me from getting good photographs of these birds scampering in the tree tops and laurel bushes. I did see warblers, thrushes, robins, sparrows  and a large hawk flying overhead but only manage to get a photograph of this, one of my favorite birds, the scarlet tanager. Bear Creek preserve  scarlet tanager (1 of 1)

I continued mainly downward, crossing a gas line and then into some more rocky terrain.  The path got a little hard to walk and also was wet in spots. Still enjoyed the beauty of the deep woods and was hoping to run into a bear because these woods  sure looked like bear territory. No bears, only a lot of chipmunks scurrying about on the ground as I walked by and disturbed their morning. Bear Creek preserve  (31 of 59)

Finally I heard the roar of running water and walked down to Bear Creek and took a rest. Little did I know I would how much I would need it. The trail was wider now, it looked like an old logging road, but it was all uphill . I didn’t realize how much of a descent I had made. It wasn’t easy hiking up this steep grade but it was a pleasant trail, again lined with mountain laurel. There weren’t as many birds on this trail, they seemed to prefer  the safety of the thicker woods that  were found along the lower ridges near streams. This trail hiked upward above the rocky ledge that was  above me on my hike down.

But there still were plenty of robins and song birds singing in the trees and I was able to photograph a northern brown snake. I noticed the deep blue eyes and learned, when got home, that this means he was about to shed his skin. A fluid builds up causing the snake to lose its’ vision and turning its’ eyes blues. Here is a link to some more detailed  information about this process. And this is a link to some more photographs of the Bear Creek preserve  northern brownsnake 4 (1 of 1)snake.

The trail widened even more as it entered into a recently logged area. From the looks of some of the stumps there were once some very large trees in this area. it is sad they are gone but it is good to know that now they will have a chance to regrow into a mature forest without the fear of being logged when they reach their prime.  We have to be grateful to organizations like the National Land Trusts for preserving this beautiful areas for us to enjoy.

The trail, now covered in a thick grass.descended back down to the parking area. The thick grass is perfect tick habitat and I did pick up a few today. it is important to always do a close inspection for ticks when you return from a hike in the woods.  Bear Creek preserve  (55 of 59)

I had one more surprise in store for me before I reached the car. I heard a roar in the sky and  was surprised to see this huge military jet flying overhead. It made a few passes above me. It was a great day to hike this wonderful area. .Bear Creek preserve  (53 of 59)

I fell in love with this place and will be back, maybe as soon as next weekend, when the mountain laurel will be at its’ peak. Once again I found a gem in my backyard that I never even knew existed. Northeastern Pennsylvania is a great place to live if you love nature and the outdoors.

Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning.



I think the environment should be put in the category of our national Bear Creek preserve  (41 of 59)security.  Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad.  Otherwise what is there to defend?  ~Robert Redford


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