Another Summertime Hike On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails
The forecast called for some severe weather Saturday afternoon so I decided to play it safe and hike close to home, on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails in Luzerne County Saturday morning. I decided to start on hike on the end of the trail, on the parking area near the village of Hazle Brook. It is about seven miles from my home.
It rained earlier in the morning, an unexpected downpour ( I got drenched). It was cloudy and the woods were wet when I arrived. The sun broke through the clouds when I started my hike and the mid-Summer sun’s ray filtered through the leaves of the large oak and maple trees along the trail. . This section of the trail passes through an older hardwood forest. Earlier in the Spring and Summer the songs of birds filled the woodlands. I would hear, and see, many ovenbirds, red-eyed vireos, and other song birds when I walked here. Not on Saturday, The woodlands were quiet. I think many of the migratory song birds have begun their journey south . And I think the heavy rains had something to do with it too. More on that later.
I was hoping, after all of the rain this past week, there would be some mushrooms growing in the woods along the trail. I love foraging for edible wild mushrooms. I was surprised to find only a few mushrooms on my five hike, mainly russulas, my iPhone mushroom app tells me this pretty red mushroom is an emetic russula, It is poisonous. Some of the mushrooms in this species are edible but they are difficult to identify.
There were also few summer wildflowers blooming along this wooded section of the trail including steeplebush flowers,
yellow stargrass flowers , all of these are wildflowers native to Pennsylvania.
There were also some invasive red clover flowers. I looked, but I didn’t find any with four leaves. . I believe there were no insects visiting the wildflowers because of the rain. I think they would wait for their wings to dry to allow them to fly. Not sure, just my theory. And if there are no insects flying it could explain why the birds weren’t active.
The trail leaves the older forest and follows a freshwater stream that separates the woodlands form an area the was one strip mined. This area has mainly pine, aspen and birch trees. On this trail there were some more wildflowers including oxeye daisies,
and yellow loosestrife flowers,
bull thistle flowers,
and spotted knapweed flowers. All of these flowers are invasive but they are still visited by bees , wasps, butterflies and other insects. The still strong August sun dried out the woodlands and plants along the trail and many insect began to visit the flowers. This flower was visited by a common eastern bumblebee.
Another common invasive wildflower is Queen Anne’s Lace. This one was visited by a potter wasp.
There were also some wildflowers native to Pennsylvania that I saw along this section of the trail, including common yarrow,
native evening primrose flowers,
this, I think is early or Canada goldenrod, both are native species. There are 30 different species of goldenrod that bloom in Pennsylvania. I am no expert, I am using an iPhone app, Picture This to help me with these identifications. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
This native rattlesnake hawkweed flowers visited by a tiny long hover fly,
and this native monkeyflower visited by a margined calligrapher hover fly. This tiny insects often go unseen but they are important pollinators of out flowers, fruits and vegetables.
over the active railroad right of way. As I often do, I reflected on the many railroad employees, passengers, immigrants and other folks who used the train over the past 175 years. There is more information on the railroad history of the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails in previous blog posts. You can find then using the research tool at the bottom of this blog post.
After crossing the railroad tracks the trail again proceeds through some abandoned coal strip mines, and then follows, for a short distance, the old Ashmore Yards road before continuing on the old Delaware Susquehanna & Schuylkill Railroad Company right of way,
and this northern cardinal in flight. I didn’t see a lot of wildlife on this hike and the birds I saw I wasn’t able to get many close ups photos. Here is a link to a gallery on my webpage with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails birds August 12 2023.
but I was able to get home before the thunderstorms came later in the afternoon Here is a link to another gallery with more photos from my five mile hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails August 12 2023
I think the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails is one of the nicest hiking trails in our area. It is a great place to hike, bike or run and to see the beauty of nature. And this is a result of the hard work of the many volunteers who manage and maintain the trail. It is a lot of work and they can always use a helping hand. Anyone interested to help, or serve on the local Board should contact Cal at the Hazleton Chamber of Commerce. (570) 455-1509 ext. 110 . You will be doing your community, and yourself, a great service.
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew