A Visit To The Delaware State Forest In Pike County, And 20,000 Year Old Glacial Bruce Lake

A Visit To The Delaware State Forest In Pike County, And 20,000 Year Old Glacial Bruce Lake

Bruce Lake hike (28 of 57)
Previous Post
Next Post

This past  Saturday, like the week before,  I again  visited another lake I had never heard  of before. This time it was  Bruce Lake in Pike County. Located in the Delaware State Forest  Bruce Lake is a natural  lake created when the glaciers melted 15, 000 to 20,000 years ago. There are over 2,500 lakes in Pennsylvania but  there are only 50 natural  or glacial lakes. This is only second natural lake I visited in Pennsylvania, Harvey’s Lake in Luzerne County being the other. 

So how did I get to Bruce Lake,  first some background and personal history. I love lakes.  I always have. And I have visited them all of my life, the first  being the small, but scenic Lake Irena, located in the Community Park near my home in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. My dad took me there when I was around six years old. This is Lake Irena. 

I also visited the many lakes at the nearby State Parks,  Hickory Run, Nescopeck, Locust Lake, and Tuscarora. The first being the lake in Hickory Run State Park I visited on a Cub Scout camping trip with my brother when I was 10 years old. This is the lake at Tuscarora State Park. 

And, I visited, and came to love the Humboldt reservoir near my home.  We , my boyhood friends and I, first discovered it when we were about 12 years old. I  spent so many hours sitting, reflecting and dreaming along it’s shores  during the next 50 years. .  This is the Humboldt Reservoir in Winter. 

It was my visit to Brady’s Lake in Monroe County last week that brought me to Bruce Lake. After my hike to Brady’s Lake I did some research and learned Brady’s Lake was built to harvest ice at the beginning of the last century. Nearby Arrowhead Lake and Lake Naomi were also built to harvest ice.The ice was shipped to markets in the cities in the Summer.   I also  learned  Tobyhanna Lake and Pocono Lake were built in the 1860’s to harvest timber and float the logs to market.  l learned all  of these wonderful and scenic lakes  I have visited have one thing in common, they were all man made.  They  were created for the lumber industry,  ice harvesting, recreation, and flood control. This is  Brady’s Lake. 

So after my research on Brady’s Lake I also researched natural or glacial lakes. I now was on a mission to visit one.  I did some  more research and I learned Bruce Lake in Pikes County was  one of them. So, early Saturday morning I drove the 75 mikes to the Bruce Lake Natural Area just north of Promised Land State Park.  It was a  clear, cool morning when I arrived around 8 a.m.  and started my hike on the Bruce Lake Road Trail located on Route 390. 

There was only one vehicle in the parking lot which was a good thing. I hoped I would see some wildlife on this hike. I began my hike under the canopy of large oak, maple, hemlock trees and fir trees. The trail was a wide old road, covered with grass. It was easy walking.

I enjoyed walking under the shade of the trees as the sun filtered through the leaves. There was, however, some traffic noise from nearby  Interstate 84 on the first few miles of the hikes.

Moss and ferns grew on the shaded woodland floor including many eastern hay-scented ferns and

bracken ferns. Many of the bracken ferns were already withering and turning brown as the end of Summer nears. It seems like it was just yesterday when the  first shoots of Spring appeared. 

The only wildflowers blooming along the trail were numerous scattered patches of white wood asters. 

There were a few mushrooms including these, I believe, an edible species  mushroom ,  rosy russula, but not sure, some species are poisonous, ,and these

a deadly destroying angel mushroom. Even a small bite of this mushroom would be lethal. There  were dozens growing along the trail. 

The wide trail continued throw some thickets of rhododendrons. I imagined it would be nice hiking in early Summer when they bloomed, 

There were a few side trails, that, although narrower still looked well maintained. I was intrigued by the Panther Swamp  Trail and will have to hike it someday.  

The trail crossed some small streams,

and along one I saw some  royal or water ferns growing , I don’t see them near my home in Luzerne County.

The only birds I heard were a few eastern towhees,  I could only photograph one of them as it scurried in the undergrowth  in the morning sunlight.  

After about a mile, the trail cane to Egypt Meadow Lake. 

This Lake, and surrounding wetlands were man made,  built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Here I saw a father and son  on bikes with fishing gear. They were fishing on  the bridge over the creek exiting Egypt Meadow Lake and leaving to bike up to Brue Lake.

I  stopped to enjoy the scenic lake and wetlands, and was surprised to see this wood duck swimming on the lake near the shore, They usually quickly fly off when seeing or hearing any movement. I watched the wood duck  swimming in the lake,

and also enjoyed the oxeye daisies, an invasive wildflower, 

and prairie fleabane flowers, a native wildflower. growing in the clearing between the lake and wetlands. 

I left the lake and continued on  the trail which again entered the woodlands and the shade the all trees provided. 

Acorns were scattered along the trail, 

and I saw a lot of fungi growing  on the ground in the cool shades of the oak, maple, black cherry and hemlock trees. including a lot of coral fungi, this is an golden  spindle coral, 

this a yellow-tipped coral, 

and this, a pretty violet coral fungi. 

I also was delighted to see this  bear’s head tooth or lion’s mane mushroom. It is a choice edible which I harvested and enjoyed. 

I  also  heard and saw a few migratory  birds in the deep woods along the trail. There was a small flock of black throated blue warblers, 

a few prairie warblers ,

I believe a Blackburnian warbler, 

and a female or immature magnolia warbler.  I hope I got the warbler right. The  young birds are now fledged and are making their way south with their parent, some to remote forest in the Caribbean, and South and Central America. Their long distance migration always amazes me. I was glad to have seen a few of these long distance travelers on my hike. 

I hiked about another 1 1/2 mile hike on the wooded trail when I came to the shores of Bruce Lake.

It was a beautiful sight, made more so knowing it has appeared this way, unchanged, for almost 20,000 year when it was created by the retreating glaciers. Native Americans could have admired this view when they first migrated to these pristine woodlands. The first explorers, than lumbermen, and finally settlers could have been inspired by the natural beauty of the lake. I know I was.

The trail continued along the north shore of  the lake and their were a few clearings along the lake where it looks like folks have camped. I would love to camp here. I would think the stars would be brilliant, the katydids loud, and maybe the haunting calls of a loon would echo over the lake. 

I stood along the lake and admired it’s beauty. There was no birds,  mammals  or other large wildlife along the lake but a few insects visited the wildflowers blooming in the clearing along the shores of the lake including bees, flies and wasps visiting  grass leaved goldenrod, one of the many species of native goldenrod that bloom in Pennsylvania  and

invasive spotted knapweed flowers. 

I also saw these short winged green grasshoppers  along the shore of the lake, one of seven species of grasshoppers found in Pennsylvania.

 I left the lake shore and followed the trail. which was still wide easy walking. 

I saw what was probably the oldest black cherry trees I had seen. It could have sprouted before the first Europeans saw this lake.

The trail narrowed  but was still grassy and easy to hike  until I came to an old hand water pump. 

Here there was a path that led  back done to the lake, where I found another  another fireplace and  where it looks like some folks had camped. I again took in the beautiful view of  lake. .

I left the lake and continued on  the trail that followed the east shore of the lake. The trail narrowed and became rocky and overgrown in spots but it was still passable but not an easy hike anymore. There was no view of the lake since the trail was  a few hundred yards from the lake.  

until it came to the southern part of the lake. The lake changed into a large wetland, I learned at it deepest the lake is only 10 feet deep, 

I saw a large beaver dam in the wetlands. 

Here the wetlands  overflowed onto the trail making it wet and overgrown in spots. It was still a challenging but manageable path to hike. 

However, what came next wasn’t. The East Lake Trail intersected with a trail that would either take you into the Promised Land State Park, or along the west side of the lake. i decided to follow the trail on the west side of the lake which would take  me back to the trail I came in on,  There was a trail marker so I assumed there would be a trail. Well there wasn’t. 

The trail was overgrown from the start, and I lost my way a few time

It came close to the shores of the wetland and became flooded. Here the  trail was under knee deep water.

I tried to avoid the flooded trail by crawling through a thick growth of rhododendrons, it was almost impossible, especially with some shoulder and back issues. 

I made my way back to the flooded trail and just waded and struggled my through the muck and overgrown trail. It was an ordeal. I could have, and should have turned around by I am stubborn and made it through the rough overgrown trail suffering only a few minor cuts and a sore shoulder and back. I was lucky. I wasn’t happy. ( I later read my AllTrail reviews and other hikers agreed. The conditions  on the trail are dangerous and someone may get injured.  The trail should be closed until it is moved or cleared.) I would not recommend hiking on this trail on the west side of the lake. 

I got back on the grassy wide trail I hiked in on and I was in heaven again. It was about a 1 1/2 difficult hike  around the lake As I walked back I found the trail was not busy with hikers heading up to the  or returning from the lake. It was nice to see a few families with children on the trail. 

I also saw a few more birds on my hike back, including a few more migratory warblers, including these migratory birds, a black throated green warbler,

and an ovenbird,

and some  year long residents  a black-capped chickadee, an

a downy woodpecker. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog web page with more photos of the wildlife and wildflowers I saw on my hike. Bruce Lake  Pike County wildlife and wildflowers September 3 2023

I walked past the Egypt Meadow Lake were I saw a few families enjoying the scenic view of the lake, and others kayaking and canoeing on the lake. It was a beautiful late Summer  afternoon.

I walked the last mile of my 8 mile hike under  in the shade of the old trees. I had hoped to see more wildlife  but it was still a great hike and visit to this wonder of nature.  Here is a link  to a gallery  on my blog website with some more photos from my hike. Bruce Lake hike Pike County September  2 2023. 

I still love all of the other lakes I have visited here in Pennsylvania but this natural lake was special. And now I have a new goal, to visit all 50 natural lakes in our Commonwealth.   And  I hope to share their beauty here  on my blog.

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”  -Henry David Thoreau


This is my first post