Posts Tagged ‘Hickory Run State Park’

PA State Parks in Carbon County

BeltzvilleBarrBoat (8)

Beltzville State Park is in the southern foothills of the Poconos. Pohopoco Creek, an excellent trout stream, feeds the 949-acre Beltzville Lake, which is a rest stop for migrating waterfowl and is a destination for boaters and anglers. The sand beach and picnic pavilions are very popular. Hiking, Mountain Biking, Picnicking, Swimming, Boating, Water-skiing, Fishing, Hunting, Cross-country Skiing.
Beltzville is five miles east of Lehighton, just off US 209. From the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, take Exit 74 and follow the signs to the park.

888-PA-PARKS

90px-Boulder_Field_Tree_Hickory_Run_State_ParkHickory Run State Park has over 40 miles of hiking trails, three state park natural areas and miles of trout streams. The Boulder Field, a striking boulder-strewn area, is a National Natural Landmark. Hiking, Picnicking, Swimming, Fishing, Hunting, Disc Golf, Education, Cross-country Skiing, Snowmobiling, Ice Skating, Organized Group Cabin Camps, Organized Group Tenting, Camping.
From I-80, take Exit 274 at the Hickory Run State Park Exit, and drive east on PA 534 for six miles. From the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, take Exit 95 and drive west on PA 940 for three miles, then turn east on PA 534 for six miles.

888-PA-PARKS

Lehigh Gorge State Park follows the Lehigh River from the outlet of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Francis E. Walter Dam at the northern end, to the town of Jim Thorpe at the southern end of the park. Hiking, Biking, Fishing, Hunting, Education, Snowmobiling, Cross-country Skiing. White Haven is the northern access area and can be reached off of Exit 273 of I-80. Follow PA 940 east to the White Haven Shopping Center. Turn right on Main Street and bear right to the state park access area.
888-PA-PARKS

mclpark
Mauch Chunk Lake Park
is located in the Boroughs of Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill. Today the park exceeds 150,000 visitors annually and has become a popular vacation destination for many families. The park has facilities for swimming, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, and boating.

(570) 325-3669              mauch2@ptd.net www.carboncounty.com/park

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The Rocks That Rolled – Boulder Field, Hickory Run State Park

Written by Susan Gallagher,
Chief Naturalist at Carbon County Environmental Education Center and author of nature blog:

The Lonely Raven

 

Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Hickory Run State Park, Boulder Field, Carbon County’s hundreds of millions of years old geological oddity, is a bit off the beaten path. Though it can be reached on foot via Hickory Run State Park’s vast trail system, most people prefer to travel there by car. Signs beginning along State Route 534 and continuing through Hickory Run State Park direct visitors to a small parking lot and interpretive signs at Boulder Field’s edge. From the main highway, the drive to the entrance of Boulder Field is about four miles long, and this part of the trip is, in itself, worth the time. Though years ago Hickory Run’s trees were decimated by clear cutting and forest fires, many impressive specimens remain, and some can be seen along the first paved mile of the ride. After that, the forest opens up a bit and the road becomes a one-way dirt track. There is no winter maintenance, though visitors will have little trouble making the trek under normal weather conditions.

 

Wildlife sightings aren’t uncommon on the drive through Hickory Run to Boulder Field. Turkeys, grouse, warblers and woodpeckers of all sorts – it’s a birder’s delight! Drivers can also make a quick stop at Hickory Run Lake along the way. Though there is no swimming here, the place is a hotspot for local fishermen during spring stocking season. At other times of the year it’s usually a quiet place, and one of Hickory Run State Park’s better kept secrets. The best part of this ride comes at the end. After a few meandering turns, you swing around to the right and Boulder Field suddenly pops into view – a wide, flat expanse draped on all sides by lush evergreens. It seems starkly out of place, and immediately begs the question, How did these rocks get here?

 

How the rocks came to be, and how the field came to be are really two different stories. The rocks themselves are ancient, laid down as sediments which slowly turned to stone more than 300 million years ago. The rocks are older than the dinosaurs, a part of what geologists call the “Catskill Formation”. This is the type of bedrock underlying a large portion of northeastern Pennsylvania, including most of Monroe, Pike, Wayne and Susquehanna counties. Rub your fingers gently on one of the boulders, and you may be able to feel the fine grains of sediment which were cemented together eons ago. The red color and sandy texture of these grains give the rock its common name: red sandstone. Scattered about Boulder Field you’ll also find conglomerate sandstone – rock with chunks of white, milky quartz crystals embedded within.

 

Geologists don’t all agree on exactly how this sediment-turned-to-stone became Boulder Field in Hickory Run State Park. Signs at the edge of the field’s parking lot describe an ancient valley where the boulders now sit, a valley straddled on either side by cliffs made up of red and conglomerate sandstones. Others suggest the sandstone cliffs weren’t cliffs at all, but a single, gently sloping mass of bedrock situated to the east of the current field (to your left as you enter from the parking lot). Whichever form the sandstone took on, the consensus is this mass of rock was broken into boulders by the same kind of “freeze / thaw” process responsible for most of our potholes and cracked sidewalks; rain or melt water seeps into small crevices in the rock, then freezes solid. Because water expands as it freezes, it expands the crevice in turn. Repeated freezing and thawing continues to widen small spaces in the rock, eventually splitting cliffs or masses of bedrock into boulders, and boulders into smaller pieces over time. The freeze / thaw process was helped along by the area’s glacial climate. Scientists agree most of the rocks were broken apart about twenty thousand years ago, during North America’s last Ice Age. It was then that a massive glacier stopped just short of Boulder Field – only a quarter-mile to the northeast. Though the glacier didn’t deposit the rocks in their current position, its proximity was an important factor in shaping the weather, and therefore in shaping the Hickory Run State Park landscape.

 

At the time, the area that is now Hickory Run State Park looked much like present-day Greenland. This meant less plant life, which in turn meant more exposed rock. Temperatures fluctuated, things froze, things thawed, and the rocks rolled. Boulder Field was also shaped by “frost heave” – another process to wreak havoc on our present day roads and sidewalks. Water that has seeped into soil also expands when it freezes, sometimes uplifting that soil an inch or more. Some geologists think frost heave was responsible for the depressions found scattered throughout the field – ancient “potholes” that look like odd stone circles, with larger boulders on the outer rim, and smaller ones in the center. Though the glacier has long since receded, freezing and thawing still shape Boulder Field – though much more slowly today. Look closely and you’ll find evidence of recently fractured rocks, their sharp edges standing out in contrast to the more rounded forms worn smooth over time.

 

 

Other factors influence Carbon County’s Boulder Field as well. Some plants are able to make a living by growing directly on the rocks, without the benefit of soil. These plants secrete chemicals that allow them to stay fixed to the boulders. These chemicals are slowly wearing away fine bits of sediment from the stones. One of these plants is actually a type of algae called protococcos. It appears as patches of flat, circular green growths throughout the field. Plants called lichens (pronounced LIE-kens) also grow on the rocks, but take on a variety of forms. Some look like withered lettuce, others like simple black dots. One – known as reindeer lichen – resembles tiny little deer antlers, and can be found in abundance on the south side of the field. Your own footsteps, scraping away at the rocks as you teeter your way across the field, are slowly wearing away at the rocks, too, turning big boulders into smaller ones by the slightest of margins. That wear and tear is expected, and does little to take away from the natural beauty of the area. Vandalism, littering and the removal of rocks are more serious threats, and are strictly prohibited.

 

In addition to preserving the area as it is, visitors are asked to consider their own safety before hiking out on the rocks. Sturdy shoes are a must on this hiking trail. Sandals or flip-flops are an invitation to disaster. Even with the proper footwear, rocks are slippery when wet, making rainy day hiking a bad idea. Visitors are encouraged to take along extra water on warm, sunny days, since the temperature of the rocks may be higher than that of surrounding air. Plastic drink bottles are recommended, since glass should not be taken out onto the boulders.

 

To make the most of your visit to Boulder Field, consider attending one of the lectures offered by Hickory Run staff. The park’s Environmental Education Specialist may also be available to schedule hiking tours for school or scout groups. Visiting naturalists from Carbon County Environmental Education Center in Summit Hill can do the same.

 

 

Whether you make it a quick stop, or decide to spend the day hiking out on the rocks, be sure to include a hiking trip to Boulder Field in your plans when visiting Carbon County. It’s a truly unique way to connect with a geologic past full of sand and soil, ice and water – and rocks that rolled.

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Black Bear Country

By: Susan GallagherChief NaturalistCarbon County Environmental Center and author of The Lonely Raven blog

Imagine a big stomach. No, a BIG stomach. A little bigger… little bigger… okay, good. Now give it a huge snout, capable of sniffing out up to 20,000 calories a day. Add four legs because, hey, all that food isn’t going to come to it. Drape the whole thing in some glossy black fur, tack on a stubby little tail, and what you have is a Pennsylvania Black Bear.

 

Buy cheap levitra online thing in some glossy black fur, tack on a stubby little tail, and what you have is a Pennsylvania Black Bear.

Think of a black bear as a digestive system on the prowl, and much of its behavior starts to make sense. Roaming more than a dozen miles in a night, raiding campsites, dumpsters and curbside trash bins are perfectly logical when the mission is to find food, and then to find more food. Food is also the reason black bears are a fairly common sight in the Poconos. The Poconos have plenty to eat in the way of acorns and other tree seeds, grasses, insects, carrion, fruit – there’s not much in Pocono forests that isn’t on the menu. Add some wetlands or mountain streams for keeping cool in summer and a few rocky den sites for shelter, and you have the perfect black bear habitat that is Northeast Pennsylvania.

 

Unfortunately, some Pennsylvania highways slice right through that habitat, leading to the kind of bear encounter no one wants to have. Combine high speed travel, roads crowded with cars and trucks, poor or low visibility at night, and the next thing you know there’s a dead bear on the side of the road and an insurance deductible to pay. Since collisions with whitetail deer can be equally damaging, it’s best to obey Pennsylvania’s posted speed limits and avoid distracted driving. Stay especially alert while traveling at night or in early morning. In Carbon County, both Interstate 80 near Hickory Run State Park and Route 903 near Albrightsville are known for frequent bear crossings and wildlife collisions.

 

A far more common, and perhaps more expected, kind of bear encounter is that of a raiding bruin at the campsite. Black Bears have an incredible sense of smell, making it almost impossible to hide the fact you’ve been roasting hotdogs around the fire. As giant stomachs with feet, it’s no surprise black bears are sometimes attracted to campgrounds throughout the area. Local park directors, rangers and wildlife officers go to great lengths to prevent the occasional campsite raid from resulting in what’s termed a “nuisance” or “problem” bear. Bear-proof dumpsters are put in place. Black Bears are discouraged from associating campsites with food, sometimes with harmless scatter-shot, and visiting campers are reminded to keep food out of and away from tents or cabins. Incidentally, it may be more than food that attracts super-sniffing bears to a campsite; sweetly scented toiletries can do the same. For Black Bears, an animal whose sense of smell far surpasses that of humans, (and bloodhounds!) something like strawberry shampoo or soap may be enticing enough to warrant further investigation.

 

At all Pocono and northeast Pennsylvania area parks, bears and other wildlife are encouraged to develop a healthy fear of humans. This is as much for their sake as for our hikers and campers, since the story of an animal regularly looking for handouts rarely has a happy ending. Posters displayed at campsite check-ins sum it up in poetic brevity: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear. This is a lesson we sometimes forget, especially when watching bears from the safety of our own homes. We’re pretty brave when we can toss marshmallows to a black bear from the security of a porch or deck, but meet that same animal along a wooded path, and it’s no fun trying to explain that you are out of marshmallows.

 

Encountering any wildlife on its home turf can be a moving experience, but there is something special about coming across a black bear in the woods. Here is an animal with teeth and claws, muscles and jaws, sufficient to do some serious harm. It’s not surprising that for some of us, wild bear sightings cause a certain amount of fear or anxiety. We become especially cautious if the black bear happens to be a mom with cubs in tow. Surprisingly, mother bears rarely turn out to be a serious threat; in fact, the vast majority of bears behaving badly toward humans turn out to be young males. To understand why, we need to consider some basic bear biology.

 

We’ll begin at the beginning, with a newborn bear cub. These adorable little bundles come into the world in January, while mom bear is snoozing in her winter den. Blind, nearly naked, and weighing in at around one pound, bear cubs grow quickly. By the time the family leaves the den in spring, the cubs are able to climb. This climbing ability sets black bears apart from their grizzly cousins to the west, and polar bears of the north. Having evolved in a forested landscape, our bears depend on oaks and maples for more than just food; trees offer safety. Given the choice between “fight or flight”, a black bear is pre-programmed to opt for flight up the nearest available tree. When confronted with anyone or anything perceived as a threat, mother bears generally shoo their young bear cubs upwards to safety. Trees can instantly defuse what might otherwise be a dangerous situation. Once the cubs are safe, mom is less agitated, and less likely to become aggressive. In addition to honing their climbing skills, bear cubs have a lot to learn from mom (males don’t help in raising the young) which explains why bear cubs stay with mama bear through their first winter. Late in the following spring, or early in the summer, these “teenagers” are kicked out on their own as mama bear starts work on the next litter. By June or July, year-and-a-half old cubs find themselves newly independent, and must come to terms with their destiny as walking stomachs.

Everything black bears encounter is food, unless and until proven otherwise. Logs are pawed through for insects; all manner of plant parts are sampled; carrion is inspected and taste-tested; and people are sometimes – yes, sometimes – followed as potential prey. This is where things can get a little scary. Time to seek counsel from Fred Merluzzi, local Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation Officer. Having served more than 30 years with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Merluzzi speaks with the measured patience of a man who has mediated human-bear conflicts in the Poconos for a long, long time. “I wouldn’t call these ‘attacks’”, he advises. “They are more like ‘uncomfortable encounters’, and they all center around food.” Years ago, Merluzzi investigated the case of a teenage girl who had been knocked to the ground by a young bear. She was sniffed, pawed at gently, and her face was licked by the animal before it took off. “That sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. It all made sense when I found out the girl was walking through the woods on her way home from work at a fast food restaurant. She smelled like food.” Merluzzi suspects that bear was a young male, as most of his “problem” bears turn out to be. These male black bears may grow to be hundreds of pounds heavier than their female counterparts, and so must roam farther in search of food. This increases the odds they will cross paths with people, and anyone walking around smelling like a giant french fry is bound to elicit some curiosity.

 

So, what do you do if, all of a sudden, you find yourself being stalked like a lowly prey animal? Merluzzi’s advice is simple: don’t act like food. “Stand your ground. Don’t lay down and don’t run. If you are in a group, bunch together. Do whatever you can to make yourself look bigger and more threatening. Send a message that you’re not worth the hassle.” Merluzzi recommends hikers and campers in Pennsylvania’s bear country consider pepper spray. “Carry it, but don’t use it unless you have to.” Will you have to? Chances are the answer is no. Most black bear encounters here in the Poconos and northeast Pennsylvania are anything but “uncomfortable”. Every once in a while a bruin may raid the garbage cans or knock down a few bird feeders; a few may become too cozy at local campsites and require intervention by park staff or game officers, but the vast majority of these animals maintain that healthy fear of humans so important for their own survival.

 

Pennsylvania black bears have managed not only to survive, but to thrive in our midst. They are among the largest in the world, and the Pocono region boasts some real record-holders. Bears in excess of 800 pounds are not unheard of. The skull of the third-largest road-killed bear in the Commonwealth is on display at Carbon County Environmental Education Center, not far from where it met with ill fate on an area roadway. Tourists and other visitors are often drawn here with the hope of glimpsing one of these big guys. When that happens, it’s unforgettable.

 

Imagine hiking a lonely trail, surrounded by the thick greenery of summer. There’s rustling in the laurels ahead, the crack of dry branches underfoot and maybe a soft chuffing sound – all indicating the approach of something big. Suddenly, there he is, and you’re too captivated by that mass of biological beauty to be frightened. You watch for a moment, rooted to the ground. Then the wind changes direction, carrying your scent to a wide snout. He’s off, his bulk disappearing slowly back into the thicket. You’ve just been reminded that wild things and wild places still exist here in the Poconos.

You’ve had a bear encounter of the best kind.

 

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A Family Guide to Jim Thorpe: Gateway to the Poconos

Written by Susan Gallagher of the Lonely Raven  www.thelonelyraven.com

It’s a parental rite of passage: plan what you hope will be an exciting family trip, stow the luggage and pack up the kids. Then it’s time to sit back and relax as an endless stream of complaints issue forth from the back seat.

“I’m BORED!”
“Are 

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we there yet?”

“I gotta go to the bathroom!”

There is no easy fix for the stressful family road trip, but rest assured, if Jim Thorpe, PA is your destination, our abundance of natural areas will offer plenty for the kids to do on arrival.

Children and nature go together, well, naturally! A growing body of evidence supports what common sense already tells us – that spending time in “green places” can havepositive impacts on a child’s physical and emotional development. One study in particular found that simply playing in a natural area is as effective as medication (or perhaps even more so) in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children.

BM ButterflyOpportunities for nature play abound in Jim Thorpe and its surrounding Pocono areas, northeast of the Lehigh Valley, where there is something for every age and interest. For the youngest visitors, Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary is a must-see and just a few miles north of downtown Jim Thorpe. These people literally invented the word “flutterarium” to describe their walk-in butterfly feeding room. Here, kids can feed monarchs, painted ladies or other butterfly species on nectar-soaked sponges and brushes, or browse the nature-themed gift shop, well stocked with items that won’t break the piggy bank. Bear Mountain Butterflies also has plenty of space and supplies for crafts, games and puzzles. The staff is especially accommodating for developmentally challenged children, and can provide programs tailored to special needs groups.

Equally kid-friendly is Mauch Chunk Lake Park on the west end of Jim Thorpe off of Lentz’s Trail. Visitors can enjoy not only the standard fare of camping, fishing and boating, but also a “Tot Lot” playground for the little ones, some easy hiking trails, and plenty of friendly ducks to feed. Sections of the historic Switchback Gravity Railroad cut through the park, great for easy hikes and favored by local walkers and runners.

At the west end of the park sits Carbon County Environmental Education Center, a wildlife rehabilitation facility housing injured, non-releasable raptors. Nowhere else in the Poconos can kids get as close to a red-tailed hawk, great-horned owl, or bald eagle. A handicap accessible boardwalk trail circles the raptor enclosures for easy viewing of the birds at any daylight hour.

As a county-operated park, Mauch Chunk Lake Park is unaffected by the budget cuts that often leave state parks without lifeguards to monitor their swimming areas. If you are looking for a lake swim on a not-so-crowded beach, Mauch Chunk may be your best bet.  

Jim Thorpe is the county seat of Carbon county and at the foothills of the Poconos. Carbon County’s three (yes, three!) state parks are not to be missed and are just a short drive from the downtown area of Jim Thorpe. They offer a range of opportunities for family fun.

Lehigh Gorge State Park bisects Carbon County from north to south, with a crushed-stone trail paralleling the scenic Lehigh River. Three trail heads allow entrance to the Lehigh Gorge, beginning in White Haven with access from the parking lot of the town’s small shopping center (Pssst! This shopping center is home to Wood’s Ice Cream, one of the Pocono area’s best kept secrets). Here, a local outfitter runs a small shop offering mountain bike rentals, drinks, and snacks to get the whole family set for a riverside trek. You can also set off in to the Lehigh Gorge from the park’s opposite end in Jim Thorpe and head up-river; another outfitter in the center of town offers everything you will need, including specific directions to the Lehigh Gorge State Park entrance.

“The Gorge” can be reached by car at Rockport, a tiny town situated about halfway along the park’s 20+ mile stretch. Though the only accommodations here are a drinking fountain and rest room, this is still a popular access point. From the parking lot, take the kids for an easy walk either 2/10’s of a mile down-river, or 3/10’s of a mile up-river to check out the waterfalls. Up-river, the falls cascade down to where children (and pets!) can splash in a small, icy-cold pool of spring water; the perfect destination on a hot summer day. Note: Rattlesnakes and copperheads are not uncommon sights in Lehigh Gorge State Park. Supervise children accordingly.

For the fossil enthusiast, Beltzville State Park is the place to be. Visitors to Beltzville can expect to find five kinds of fossils here, including the coveted trilobite! Just check with park staff to find where digging and collecting might be permitted. Beltzville also offers picnic areas, easy walking trails, and a picturesque covered bridge. This bridge once housed a huge colony of little brown bats, now sadly reduced due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal infection affecting many of the Poconos’ bat populations.

At the northern end of Carbon county is Hickory Run State Park, where you will find hiking opportunities to suit every age and ability level. Of Hickory Run State Park’s 23 trails, Deer Trail, Lake Trail and Nature Loop Trail are especially suitable for young visitors.

Hickory Run State Park is home to Boulder Field – a 20,000 year-old collection of sandstone boulders in an area measuring roughly 400’ wide by 1,800’ long. This geologic oddity is a great place to let your kids roam freely; not only can you keep an eye on them from a distance, you can also put your mind at ease if worried about ticks or snakes – there simply aren’t any of them here! Just be sure to outfit everyone in sturdy shoes, ideally with rubberized soles for traction on the rocks.

All of the above-mentioned destinations offer formal programming for children and families. If a structured experience is what you’re after, check their websites for schedules and fees (many programs are available for free or at a nominal cost). Planned adventures can also be had through any of the area’s rafting companies, most ofwhich welcome young children on certain sections of the river. Some of these facilities also provide skirmish, mountain-biking and hiking tours.

The great thing about nature exploration is that you don’t need a park, a planned activity or a guide to have fun. Kids are particularly good at creating their own adventures when given a bit of freedom, and there’s tremendous value in this “unstructured” type of play. Damming a stream, planning and building a tree fort, falling down and getting back up – these all provide the kinds of life lessons you won’t find in any book. So, don’t be afraid to relax the rules a bit. If you’re anxious about things like ticks, wasps, or venomous snakes, talk with staff at any of the above-mentioned Pocono area parks. They can provide more information on potential threats in any given area. You can encourage safe, rewarding nature play on any trip with a bit of planning and some inexpensive materials.

Here are a few tips for putting together a simple “nature exploration kit” to accompany your little trailblazer on his or her Jim Thorpe adventure. Pack light for your Pocono family adventure so you can include some of these items!  
Start with a junior-sized backpack and the basics such as tissues, hand wipes, first aid supplies, sunscreen and snacks. Then add a few of the following to tailor it to your child’s age and interests:

·

Whistle – A loud whistle is the outdoor equivalent of 911. Teach your child to deliver three strong blasts if lost or separated.
Notepad and pencils (or crayons for younger children.)
Hand lenses (attached to key chains or lanyards so they won’t be easily lost.)  
Tweezers, a small garden shovel and a net for “collecting expeditions”.
Specimen containers such as small plastic bottles or cups. Sandwich bags work well for rock and leaf collections.
A home-made scavenger hunt list of ten or twenty things kids should be able to find. Acorns, feathers, worms, bugs, and different kinds of leaves or seeds are a few ideas. (Avoid over-collecting and release any live animals back into the habitats where they were found. Keep in mind some parks may not allow the removal of plants, animals or minerals, so check the rules before taking anything with you.) ·
A collection of the color sample cards found in the paint department of any hardware or home improvement store. Yes, paint samples! Ask kids to find natural objects thatmatch the colors exactly. You’ll be amazed at how many shades of green are to be found in nature, not to mention the pinks, blues and purples of flowers in bloom. · If you have a serious junior naturalist in the family, check out “Acorn Naturalists” online. This company offers everything from bug collecting kits and posters to kids’ laminated field guides and quality student-grade binoculars.

Whether you choose to sign up for a planned program, or set out to make your own fun, the family is assured a memorable, meaningful experience in any of Jim Thorpe and its surrounding Pocono natural areas. Of course, there’s no guarantee the ride home will be a quiet one. That stream of complaints may very well issue once again from the back seat.

“No! We’re not leaving already!”

“C’mon, why can’t we stay?”


“Awww, when do we get to come back?”

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Celebrate the Great Outdoors!

This September is a great time to come visit this area and do something cool outside.  Across all of Carbon County, there is a month-long celebration of the outdoors that showcases the fact that there is so much to see and do here.  This area is blessed with mountains, lakes, rivers, trails, wilderness, parks, nature centers, golf courses, outfitters, guides (like JTX!) and then all the other stuff that you need AFTER the adventure, like restaurants, B&B/hotel/guesthouses/motel, shopping, historic attractions, etc.  Carbon County truly has everything you need to have a great time outside.

Throughout September, there is something going on almost every day, which helps showcase the natural environment and adventures that are available here.  Visit www.carboncountychamber.org and click on the circular logo on the left-middle of the page.  This takes you to a big PDF file that has the general info PLUS a calendar of events (takes a moment to load).   You have to SCROLL DOWN from the picture to the calendar.  It’s not the best calendar, but it’s a sampling of what’s available. (Next year, there will be a better website and calendar.)

This month of activities will show you just how much is here, and even if you can’t get here in September, it will give you ideas for next time you DO visit.  If you live in the area, it will let you know of a bunch of things that area available right in your backyard.

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Shades of Death Trail, Hickory Run State Park

A cold snowy winter day is the perfect time to take four New Yorkers and my six year old on a hike in Hickory Run State Park. We normally take visitors to Hawk Falls in Hickory Run State Park, but the ice would have made it too dangerous. I have been on the Shades of Death trail a few times, but never in the winter and I hoped it wouldn’t live up to its name.

We parked at the park office, and walked about 150 feet up the road to head of the trail’s Ridge Section. When we first got underway, I was a little worried that the ice would make it unsafe. We kept moving and found it wasn’t too bad, just a few slippery spots. The park’s information calls it the prettiest trail in the park and I have to agree. The trail is narrow and winds thru the valley by Hickory Run Stream. Ice was everywhere. It glistened and sparked where the sunlight hit it. Every where the water splashed onto the rocks and down the water falls froze up in interested patterns and shapes.

There a a several logging damns and old dams hundreds of years old and it was fun to see new ice formations and different rock out croppings at every turn. My boy dashed ahead blazing the trail, and we all tried to keep up. The air was cold and felt so clean and fresh in my lungs. Eventually we came to a playground about 1.5 miles and took a break while my son got out the extra energy he carries around. Someone has cookies and we stopped for a snack and a drink. Cookies are the perfect hiking snack.

What is your favorite trail in Hickory Run State Park?

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