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8.14.2016

Trough Creek State Park: Copperous Rock, Balanced Rock, and Rainbow Falls

The Raystown Lake Region is filled with awe-inspiring geological beauty. One place that this is highlighted is at Trough Creek State Park. In a time where we had progressive government leaders, natural sites like this were picked out so that people could have easy access to the beautiful sites that this state has to offer. Trough Creek was founded in 1936 for its natural and geological beauty, deep within a beautiful gorge. There is plenty of wildlife to be seen at the park, including one Blue Heron that we caught a glimpse of, but flew off as soon as we got our cameras out. Brit noticed the sound of a raven as we were at Copperous Rock. I noticed it as she told me about it and I later found out that it is rumored that Edgar Allen Poe was inspired to write his poem "The Raven," though there seems to be no solid confirmation of that urban legend. These kinds of adventures are something that we really love to do. 
Trough Creek State Park is one of the greats when it comes to the Pennsylvania State Park system. This park is one of the many great redemption stories in the history of the state. Nearly from the beginning of european settlers pushing west, this area was severely industrially degraded. Now the Trough Creek area is filled with third and fourth growth forest, thanks to our forward looking leaders in the 1930s, at the local, state, and federal levels. Trough Creek State Park was founded in 1936, after a CCC camp was established to both employ unemployed young men in the Great Depression, and to fix the industrial degradation that had hurt the ecosystem. Now, thanks to these efforts, the state park is a cool oasis, filled with tons of natural beauty.
Here is Copperous Rock, the result of centuries of erosion, opening these stunning rock layers up to visibility. This spot is exceptionally tranquil, with picnic groves near the creek bed. The gorge lends it self to being quite a bit cooler on a hot summer day as well, which makes this a refreshing place to sit and relax.
The hemlock, mountain laurel, and rhododendron groves in the gorge area remind us of the extreme beauty of our native plants in the settings in which they thrive. These areas need our fullest protection, for these places are naturally Pennsylvania. A similar view of this could be seen by native american peoples for millennia. Areas like this need to be protected.

Now we take a look at Balanced Rock. This is the side that this rock formation would fall towards if it were to land in the valley below. This is another example of strong erosion, for this was once surrounded by other types of rock, but the erosive forces that have swept through the area for millennia, were unable to take away this stubborn rock, made of a different type of rock from what surrounded it The end result is this boulder that has attracted generations of visitors to appreciate it. Next we will go take a hike to get up to the top and see this boulder.

The trail starts off pretty level. Though likely not ADA compliant, it seems that this could be at least doable to the first landmark that we will see along our hike.
Perhaps the most stunning part of this trail is the lush grove of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendrons, which were in full bloom as we went through.
The large and beautiful grove leads down into the gorge on this trail.
We probably spent ten to twenty minutes just looking at these beautiful blooms.

Now on to the first landmark, the suspension bridge! This cable suspension bridge is popular with everyone that crosses it. I can say that we had a blast crossing this bridge.


Directions! Carved right into the boards of the bridge.
The hike up to Balanced Rock and Rainbow Falls is relatively easy, but quite beautiful.
Did I say that there are tons of beautiful flowers throughout the park?
I loved this little hand-carved bench.
Rainbow Falls was little more than a trickle, which was no surprise considering the near drought conditions that the state  is dealing with. It was still a very pretty area, and just one of the many beautiful landmarks along this hike.
Now for the most strenuous part of the hike, heading up to Balanced Rock. This is still relatively easy though.

I saw this wild little mushroom underneath one of the ledges. Does anyone know what kind of mushroom this is?
Another one that was nearby.
Now heading up the final ascent to Balanced Rock.
It is officially called Balanced Rock, I dub it see-saw rock. It looks as if it could fall right into the valley. No, the rock is not going anywhere, but the way that the forces of erosion have gone to work with the different rock layers in this area makes this site a terrific sight to see.
Now we are headed back down the trail. The forest through this area is beautiful.

The next landmark that we are visiting is the Ice Mine. Prospectors were test mining for iron ore. While they did not find it, they found that the cut they made into the ground stayed cool year-round. They ended up using this area as a cooler/freezer, prior to the days of refrigeration. Instead of building a well-insulated building as an ice house, they were able to keep the cut pieces of ice within this area. During the winter, aside from snow that may have crept into the cave, there is no ice within the cave. Once summer comes around, the condensation freezes from the cool air that comes through the shaft and it creates ice. This natural geological phenomenon has attracted guests for generations to see. 
Descending into the ice mine. You feel a rush of cold air, as soon as you get close to the steps.
Just a little bit of ice remaining, though the rush of cool air makes this a cool place to check out, in more ways than one.
In addition to these things, the state park has a campground, many more miles of hiking, a historic furnace, and more. Trough Creek State Park, in addition to all of the other great attractions in the Raystown Lake Region, make this a must-see place.

1 comment :

  1. My Great-Grandfather is alleged to have told the story that his father, my Great-Great-Grandfather had met Poe in a bar that was at the sight that is now part of Trough Creek State Park. I also know, that back then, Paradise Furnace was a vacation spot frequented by people from Baltimore. Still probably no real proof that Poe wrote the Raven there, but perhaps lends some credence to the legend.

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