A Summer Hike On The Spirit Of Tuscarora Trail In Tuscarora State Park
I decided to visit nearby Tuscarora State Park last Sunday. It is one of the many state parks and forests that we have near my home here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and which I don’t visit often enough. I planned to hike the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail and then hike in the meadows along the Locust Creek. I was there last year and thought it would be good habitat for the song birds that return to our area in the Spring.
It was a cloudy and mild morning when I arrived at Tuscarora State Park, located in Schuylkill County, about 15 miles from my home in Luzerne County. I drove to the parking lot for the beach and found it closed, as was the day use parking lot. The parking lot to the camping area was open so I parked here. It was almost a mile walk from this parking lot to the trailhead of the Spirit Of Tuscarora. This , I knew would change my plans of exploring Locust Creek, but I enjoyed the walk. It was the first time I visited the cabins located at the park, and, the yurts which are also available for camping. I loved the yurts and will have to camp here, hopefully in the near future.
It was a pleasant walk through the campground. It was only 8 a.m. but a few folks were already up cooking breakfast. I enjoyed the smell of the campfires. I followed a trail above the lake walking past a few folks out for an early morning hike.
The trail took me down to the 96 acre scenic lake. I met a ranger who told me he lake is open for boating and fishing but the small beach was closed because of bacteria in the water made it unsafe for swimming. He also told me the gates to the beach and day use area aren’t open until 8 a.m.
I hiked back up from the lake to get to the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail. The parking lot was now open. I could have parked a few feet from this sign, however, I didn’t mind the extra .8 mile hike through the camp grounds and beach.
It was created over 33 years ago by Dennis “Pap” Knauss. “Pap” has maintained the trail over the years, removing fallen trees, clearing the paths of leaves and debris and is familiar with all of the trees, plants and critters that are found near the trail He created a wonderful trail which has allowed so many folks from many areas to enjoy the beauty of the woodlands in the park. I had met him my first hike on the trail 8 years ago. . Here is a link to my blog post from that hike. . https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/tuscarora-state-park-its-got-a-lot-more-than-just-swimming/
a common yellow throat,
And hopping on the floor of the forest were eastern American toads, dozens of them raging is size from length of a dime,
and the black throated green warbler. Both reside in the denser forest but I find the black throated blue warbler to be much more reclusive and hard to photograph. The black throated green warbler is much more friendly. almost like the curious black- capped chickadees who almost seem to enjoy the company of humans.
and to the Spirit Of Tuscarora Tree. The tree is the remains of an old maple tree that I think was stuck by lightning. Folks have different opinions whether the shape of the tree resembles a face of a human or animal. Whatever it is I think it is a great pace to sit along the Locust Creek and reflect listening to the flowing water. And, if you are lucky you many hear a train passing in the distance. I was lucky that Sunday. I love trains.
this swamp sparrow. It was late morning now and the bird activity and song diminished on my return hike. Here is link to a gallery on my website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Tuscarora State Park birds June 25 2023.
I still had a half mile hike to the trailhead then another .8 mile hike to my Jeep. It was a nice, but uneventful hike, as far as observing wildlife, only a few spicebush swallowtail butterflies along the trail.
and one of the first rhododendrons blooms of the season. Many more will follow. I walked past the yurts and cabins and found a lot folks awake and cooking on the open campfires. It has been a long time since I have gone camping, but I am hoping that will change soon, and hopefully in a yurt here or in some other State Park, or, maybe even Mongolia?? Here is a link to another gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike. Tuscarora State Park hike June 25 2023.
“What an irony it is that these living beings whose shade we sit in,
whose fruit we eat, whose limbs we climb, whose roots we water, to
whom most of us rarely give a second thought, are so poorly
understood. We need to come, as soon as possible, to a profound
understanding and appreciation for trees and forests and the vital
role they play, for they are among our best allies in the uncertain
future that is unfolding.”