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3.07.2021

Little Drummer Historical Pathway Trail: Hiking in Allegheny National Forest

In our last article we talked about the Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Area and Beaver Meadows Recreation Areas as awesome places to hike, and we talked about how the recreation areas within the 513,175 Acres/801.8 Square miles of land of Allegheny National Forest came to be and how the recreation ares within the forest have come to be as cooperative efforts to remediate prior industrial damage. A similar type of effort needs to go into effect to remediate industrial damage from the last few decades.  Another shining example of a recreation area within the ANF is the beautiful Little Drummer Historical Pathway Trail. Similar to Beaver Meadows, it goes through beautiful woodlands, wetlands, and around a small lake. The wetlands are traversed by way of boardwalks. For what the trail does not offer in challenge in regards to topography, it more than makes up for with its length and pretty scenery. It also consists of a shorter 1 mile loop, or a longer 2.1 mile loop near Ridgeway. 



Of all of the hiking areas within ANF, this low-key hiking area is one of my favorites. It is quiet, goes through stunning forests with beautiful stands of hemlock and pines, and it goes around a managed wildlife wetland area and pond. 
There are easily thousands of feet of boardwalk in the wetlands and surrounding the pond.
In the warmer months, this habitat area must just be teeming with wildlife. There is lots of great habitat for it and lots of places to take it in.

Markers are located all along the trail showcasing many of the species that call the area home, including the namesake of trail, the "Little Drummer" which is the nickname of the state bird, the ruffed grouse.

CeCe was having a blast, as she always does on our hikes.
Overall, the Little Drummer Historical Pathway Trail is one of my favorite areas to hike within Allegheny National Forest. There are many great hiking spots, including the extremely popular Minister Creek Natural Area, which involves a steep hike up to a large rock city, Hector Falls, which involves a hike to a waterfall that flows through a rock city, Rimrock Overlook, which goes on top of and between giant boulders to give a view the Allegheny Reservoir and valley, and the Beaver Meadows and Buzzard Swamp areas, Little Drummer is one of my favorites. 

The coordinates to the trailhead and parking area are:
41.408603, -78.869588

It is located near Ridgeway and off of Hallton-Spring Creek Road

For more info, check out the ANF Website 


 

2.27.2021

Hiking the Buzzard Swamp and Beaver Meadows Areas in Allegheny National Forest: Seeing Past Industrial Remediation Efforts and Where New Ones are Needed

Not much relaxes me more than some great hiking in crisp winter weather. Allegheny National Forest has so many decent places to hike, from skill levels ranging from easy to challenging, all while taking in nature that is in various stages of regeneration following heavy industrial activity that scarred the lands from the 19th century through today. In some of the 513,175 Acres/801.8 Square miles of land within  Allegheny National Forest, nature has fully rebounded, and in other areas, direct investment and man-hours will be needed to clean up the mess. Numerous gas and oil companies have left their gas and oil wells abandoned as the companies have gone insolvent, leaving the mess for someone else to invest in and clean up. In a time of mass unemployment like this, investment into cleaning up the environmental scars from industry, especially with abandoned gas and oil wells, would be great for putting people back to work. 

Areas across the Allegheny National Forest have greatly benefited from prior work programs, especially when it comes to CCC during the Great Depression, which invested in providing work for young people through making facilities for public outdoor recreation and to remediate industrially scarred lands. Buzzard Swamp and Beaver Meadows Recreation Areas are direct beneficiaries to this, though countless other areas of Allegheny National Forest would greatly benefit from the addition of recreational infrastructure and environmental remediation. One has to look immediately across the border into New York at Allegany State Park in New York to see the kind of recreational opportunity that is being wasted across the rest of Allegheny National Forest
Anyways, back to the topic. Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Viewing and Hiking Area spans both Forest and Elk Counties and covers wetlands and woodlands that are a great habitat for birds. An 11.2 mile hiking system is located throughout, providing trails that are not too challenging, but very beautiful. Buzzard Swamp is a place where nature has fully triumphed and recovered from industrial degradation. The Songbird Sojourn Trail is partially located on an old rail grade, of which the only remaining evidence is the ground moved to create the rail grade itself. Along the side of the old railgrade, some vernal pools have been created that teem with life. A series of ponds was built in this wildlife propagation area in the 1960s. The Songbird Sojourn Trail was created by a Boy Scout troop. 
Interpretive signs are located throughout. 
Second growth forest has matured in this area that was once clearcut. 
CeCe was having a great time in the snow, in case you have not noticed. 
I always enjoy seeing the ice formations that come out of the ground on bitterly cold mornings. 
A frozen vernal pool along the side of old railgrade.

A dead tree that is filled with life. Even though the life of the tree is gone, insects and birds have filled this tree with life.

This tree caught my eye like a work of art.
So beautiful and so peaceful
BUZZARD SWAMP COORDINATES
41.449443, -79.081115
Marienville's train station is a historic structure that once served the B&O Railroad and dates back to around 1910. It later served the Knox and Kane Scenic Railroad, but now it serves as a rest point on a new rail trail that is popular and goes through the rugged landscape. I refrain on putting in coordinates because you can't miss it when you drive through Marienville.

Beaver Meadows Recreation Area is beautiful and has easy and varied terrain for hiking. The trails go through wetlands, a boardwalk across a pond area, mountain creeks, and more. The small lake was the result of WPA labor from the Great Depression to give young people work and improve our communities. Their legacy has endured for the better part of a century, and lots of areas across the Allegheny National Forest could use similar reinvestment now to improve recreational infrastructure and to remediate the serious environmental damage to the lands, namely from the oil and gas industry, which has left hundreds of oil and gas drilling spots permanently dormant and strewn across the lands of the ANF. 

BEAVER MEADOWS RECREATION AREA COORDINATES
41.52399, -79.11251
Otherwise beautiful areas across the national forest have these abandoned gas and oil drilling spots that were drilled without rainy day remediation investments put into place. As soon as business dried up, the companies washed their hands of the matter and left their junk all across Allegheny National Forest. Laws have not been made to ensure that oil and gas companies make a rainy day fund that would ensure responsible remediation.  Large swaths of land across the ANF have been scarred with oil drilling that has been largely abandoned and no remediation plan appears to be in sight. ARG (American Refining Group), supposedly going under current name of "Resources Preservation Inc" is a company that is still in business, but has abandoned many oil wells and a large oil field in The Allegheny National Forest. The company is still in business, but instead of taking responsibility for the mess, they have simply "moved on" and are leaving the government to figure out how to clean up the mess that ARG has created. The government is left holding the bag for cleaning up the mess. At this moment though, with large amounts of people left unemployed, and huge messes left to be cleaned up, this could be a great moment to create a WPA/CCC style effort to kill two birds with one stone through cleaning up this industrial and environmental mess and putting unemployed people back to work. 

A CCC basecamp that served as a hub for workers during the Great Depression as they worked to fix the scars of industry within Allegheny National Forest. We did it back then and need to do it again for the current industrial scars within Allegheny National Forest.

There are countless spots across The Allegheny National Forest that are underutilized for their outdoor recreational potential. The first spot that comes to mind is Bogus Rocks. (rough coordinates: 41.58196, -78.97628) I attempted to go to this spot for the first time on this last trip, and came away empty handed. The one (unofficial) spot that could be used to access Bogus Rocks was blocked off by a current logging operation. This rock city has a local folklore related to it regarding a band of counterfeiters using it as a hideout and what not. Usually proof is hard to come by when it comes to these kinds of urban legends, but I looked forward to visiting the location to see it for myself. Considering how neat some of the other rock cities within the ANF are, including the extremely popular Minister Creek Natural Area, which involves a steep hike up to a large rock city, Hector Falls, which involves a hike to a waterfall that flows through a rock city, Rimrock Overlook, which goes on top of and between giant boulders to give a view the Allegheny Reservoir and valley, and more, I looked forward to checking out Bogus Rocks. Yet another spot with tremendous outdoor recreation potential that is sitting undeveloped in Allegheny National Forest. The economic growth from these types of attractions is huge, bringing in people from all over the place to explore. Additionally, the potential of providing work in these uncertain economic times is another huge plus to putting investment into the development of outdoor recreational opportunities. For a fine example of what can be accomplished in this area, one just has to go to the northern border of Allegheny National Forest and Pennsylvania to the immediately adjacent Allegany State Park in New York to see what can be accomplished on this land to optimize outdoor recreational opportunity, put people to work, and create a fantastic community resource.

Anyways, with all of the problems that Allegheny National Forest has, it is still worth checking out for the excellent scenery and to see what can be accomplished when our energy is focused upon remediation versus when we leave industrial scars unremediated. For the benefit of the entire region, better development and maintenance of recreation areas would be a huge asset to the region to spur economic growth and boost the economy of the region. 

 

2.21.2021

Exploring Promised Land State Park in the Poconos

Today we visit beautiful Promised Land State Park. This state park in the Poconos is just lovely. It is a relaxed place with four lovely campgrounds, CCC era cabins, two beautiful little lakes, with one primarily for fishing and kayaking, and the other for fishing and kayaking, along with a beautiful sandy beach for swimming. Promised Land has many beautiful and rugged trails as well. It is mostly surrounded by Delaware State Forest and it is one of the most untouched and rugged areas within the popular Pocono region. 

Fishing at sunset on the Lower Lake. The Lower Lake Campground Area has ample camping spaces and it is adjacent to the lower lake. Fishing, taking in a sunset, and bird watching are all awesome things to do in this spot. 

If you are into fishing, or have a kayak, canoe, or small boat, both lakes are great to visit. Only electric motors are allowed, so instead of having to navigate through the wakes of speed boats on nearby Lake Wallenpaupack, you can relax and have the lakes at the state park to yourself. The beach area is also wonderful. 
These photos were taken before I had great camera gear, but that little speck is a bald eagle. There are nests in the state park area and bird watching is just fantastic here. 
To tie all of the great things of Promised Land Together, the entire area is covered in beautiful second growth forest. The Little Falls Trail is a beautiful and easy little hike that gives views of the Little Falls of Promised Land State Park. While they are only a few feet tall, they are absolutely beautiful. The trail is a 2.7 mile loop and located right near the entrance to the Lower Lake Campground. There are 50 miles of hiking trails through beautiful Promised Land State Park and Delaware State Forest. The Little Falls and Conservation Island Trails are just lovely, but there are seemingly endless hikes you can take in this area.

The beautiful forests along the Little Falls Trail. 



It is such a serene place.
I was going through my old photo collections and found this set from 14 years ago. Here is one of my long lost furry friends, Sophie, a Black and Tan Shiba Inu. I have a little tear in the corner of my eye seeing my old hiking companion. Thankfully our current doggo loves to hike just as much as she does. 

You can see lots of rhododendrons and mountain laurel at Promised Land State Park.
Little Falls!
Promised Land State Park is a lovely place to visit. On top of the natural beauty, most of the infrastructure that brings access to the state park and area dates back to the Great Depression and the CCC. The state park is home to the Masker Museum, which shows the history of the state park, and the CCC. The park's CCC cabins are absolutely lovely and they are lakefront. 

It is also within close range of many of the great attractions of the Poconos Region. It is within a 25 minute drive of the Delaware Water Gap, 15 minutes from Lake Wallenpaupack, ten minutes to the beautiful glacial lake area of Bruce Lake and hiking, and within 45 minutes of most other points within the Pocono Plateau. The state park is a great hub for seeing the beautiful stuff that the northern Poconos region has to offer. 
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