A Couple Of Spring Hikes On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

A Couple Of Spring Hikes On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails

Rails to Trails (19 of 23)
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Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons. I love them both the new growth of Spring and the heat and long days of Summer. .   I especially enjoy  hiking  in the  woodlands  near my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania in Spring ,  looking  for the wonders of nature that appear during this magical season.   . I decided to take a couple of hikes on our local Rails to Trails last week.  I hoped to see some of the  migratory song birds that are  returning to our woodlands in the Spring.  Some nest here and others are just passing through on their journey  to their breeding grounds further north. Some fly from as far away as Argentina. 

My first hike  on the trail was  Thursday afternoon. I began both hikes on the remote access on the  east end of the trail. It is near  near the patch town of Hazle Brook.   I walked into the mostly oak woodlands that were now covered with the fresh light green leaves of Spring. I was a sunny and mild day and the suns rays filtered through the leaves. 

Wild strawberry and

dwarf cinquefoil flowers bloomed along the trail under the green canopy of leaves. 

Our State Flower, the mountain laurel, were just starting to show their first buds. They will provide  color to the woodlands in a few weeks. 

As usual on my  afternoon hikes there was little bird activity and the woods were quiet. I only saw a few brown headed cowbirds on the first part of my hike.  These native birds have expanded their territory. They may live in our area year round but I rarely see them on my hikes in the winter. They are considered nuisance birds by many since they will push the eggs of other birds from their nest and lay their own eggs their leaving the unsuspecting mother birds to raise their offspring. Nature can be cruel. 

After about a mile the trail enters a mixed oak/pitch pine forest. 

Here I saw  my two favorite Spring flowers, a few pink lady slipper orchards, or, “duck flowers” as my dad called them,

and some pink wild azalea  or, “honeysuckles”  My dad would take us into the woods every Spring to search for these wildflowers. They evoke many wonderful memories.

The high bush blueberries also were in bloom and  had a lot of flowers this year. Hopefully it will be a good crop,  providing delicious berries for the  birds, bears and some humans in July. 

After a short distance in   the pine woods  the trail crosses a large area of coal reclamation lands. I have seen many migratory song birds here in past years. On this hike I only saw one,  a  colorful prairie warbler. 

They are beautiful birds  and like to sing. The migrate here from South Florida, the Caribbean Islands and Mexico 

I also seen a very common warbler, the ovenbird in the reclamation area I think the songs of this bird, and the red-eyed vireo are the songs heard most often on my hikes here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I only planned  to hike three miles so I finished my hike on the bridge over the active railroad track and began my hike back. 

On  my return hike I heard and saw the oven bird and prairie warbler again and also saw this female eastern towhee. The males are more seen more often on my hikes so I was glad to see this beautiful female. They spend the winters in the Southern United States. 

I had hoped to see a bear or snake on my hike but I didn’t, And I didn’t see a lot of birds either, but I wasn’t   disappointed,  the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails is always  a nice place  to enjoy  nature and get some exercise. It was cloudy when I returned to the trail early Saturday morning.  I again began my hike at the parking lot at the east end of the trail. 

As I walked into the woodlands I heard the songs of the red-eyed vireos and ovenbirds but wasn’t able to see or photograph any of them. I was able to get a couple photos of this black and white warbler that was singing along the trail,

and this male eastern towhee  scurrying in the leaf litter on the ground. 

I enjoyed walking in the lush green new growth of Spring. In addition to the new leaves on the trees many ferns grew along the the trail including sensitive ferns, 

interrupted ferns.

cinnamon ferns,

bracken ferns  

and hay scented ferns. 

And there were many wildflowers  blooming along trail too. The delicate Canada mayflower, 

the pretty Lewis flax flowers, 

Dame’s rocket flowers,

black chokeberry flowers 

and star flowers added colors to contrast the lush greens of the trees along the trail.  

I walked past the railroad bridge on this hike and saw a pair of one of my favorite year round resident birds, the pileated beautiful pileated woodpecker.  

These large woodpecker were searching for insects of grubs on dead or decaying trees with their large beaks. I love seeing them on my hikes. 

On this  hike I walked out to the pine barrens, about 2 1/2 miles from the parking lot. I have provided information on the history of the trail and the pine barrens in previous  blog post. They can be found in the archives of my blog using the search tool 

On my hike back I saw a few more birds including this pine warbler ,

these warblers are short distance migrants, spending their winters in the Southeastern United States. 

And this colorful  chestnut sided warbler was singing  nearby. 

One of the pileated woodpeckers I saw earlier was now pecking away on a fallen log. 

I seldom see  these large  colorful woodpeckers  on the ground so I enjoyed this opportunity.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos  of the birds I saw on my hikes Greater Hazleton Rails to  Trails  birds May 18, 20 2023. 

I finished my  five mile hike under the cloudy skies and once again was glad I was able to see some more of the birds, flowers and lush new growth nature  provides us every Spring. The Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails always is a great place to hike and  is a great asset to our community. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails May 18 20 2023 \

“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot”
― Werner Herzog

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