Exploring Lake Ontelaunee In Berks County

Exploring Lake Ontelaunee In Berks County

Lake Ontelaunee (22 of 54)
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We had perfect early Spring weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania  on Sunday.   I decided to spend it exploring Lake Ontelaunee in Berks County. I have heard  it is a good place to observe migrating water fowl . The lake is located about an hour south of my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County. It was sunny with temperatures in the low 40’s when I arrived at the parking area off of the intersection of  Shoemakersville and Kindts Corner Roads. 

Lake Ontelaunee is a 1082 acre lake built in 1926 and owned by the City of Reading for a source of drinking water. I was here once before, on the northern side,  where the Maiden Creek enters the lake.  This time I was on the western shore  and followed a trail on my All Trails App toward the lake. It was a wide trail lined with tall oak, Norway Spruce and black walnut trees.

As I began my hike,  under the canopy of towering  trees I saw and heard a number of birds  high up in the branches overheard,  including  mourning doves, 

 American robins,

this  Carolina wren, that was singing it’s little heart out in the Spring sunshine, 

as  was this Northern cardinal. 

The rapping of woodpeckers echoed in the tree tops, but they were hard to see  and photograph high above  in the tall old trees. 

The trail continued about a quarter mile when it veered left . The trail was at first lined with large black walnut trees on both sides, than a large stand of white pines grew on the right side of the trail.

Looking at the trail map at  home I didn’t realize how large this   little peninsula that jutted into the lake was. I was hoping to see the lake from this main trail on the map.  I couldn’t see any trails leading to the lake so I decided to walk back to a side trail that lead to the lake.   Here is a map  of the route I hiked. 

 On the way I walked under the thick area of white pine trees. This will be a nice place to be on a hot summer day.

Under the pines I found, of course, pine cones, 

and a lot of deer droppings. 

After walking under the white pine trees I followed  the trail on my map to the lake.

As soon as I neared  the water I heard the sound of  dozens of ducks flying away as I approached.   They appeared to be ring necked ducks. 

I didn’t see any other trails on the map. And there was no access to the shore at this point.  So I decided to  head back to my car and drive to another part of the lake . There were not many signs of Spring  on the trail. The only plants growing where clumps of wild garlic or onion grass and

and  the green leaves of  invasive fig buttercups.

As I walked back toward my car I followed what I learned was a fire trail that led down to another part of the lake. The trail was lined with large black walnut trees. 

The ground was littered with old black walnut husks and shells. There must be a lot of squirrels in these woods although I didn’t see an on my five mile hike. 

Nearing  the lake, I proceeded quietly.  I tried to sneak up on  another large flock of ducks.  However, stepping on one branch and the noise it made, and they were off again. Some stayed close enough to see and photograph. They were also ring necked ducks.

There was also a couple common mergansers swimming nearby, this is a male,

and these  are a couple of females. 

As I was watching the ducks this bird fly  overheard. I thought it was a crow but was advised in is an immature bald eagle. I another reason to love this place. 

Along the shore I found this large snail  shell.

It’s former occupant was probably a meal for one of the many  ring-billed gulls I saw flying over the water of the lake. Well I think they are ring-necked gulls and if so these gulls migrate to freshwaters in the interior of the continent in the Spring. 

I again tried to find a trail along the lake and followed a path through a grove of tall Norway pine trees. 

It led me back to the first trail I too. I decided to explore a little more and found a path along the other side of the  grove of white pines I saw earlier.  This wide open path, I learned was one of many fire trail on this peninsula. I followed it and it eventually led me to the shore of the lake. 

The path followed the shoreline of the lake. There were many trees along the shore but there were also gaps   providing many  views of the lake. 

Unfortunately, I came upon these pair of Canada geese and they started honing loudly as I approached.

By the time I got to the water the only ducks I saw were in the middle or on the far side of the lake. I did hear and see a few kingfishers that chattered as they swiftly flew along the shore.  And there was a small flock of the ring-billed gulls swimming on the lake. 

I watched as they would take off and land  on the lake. 

The path  provided many opportunities to observe the lake, and, hopefully, when I return,  water fowl and wildlife. 

The paths ended at the tip of the peninsula where a large grove of burr oaks were planted. These quick maturing oak should be producing acorns soon, a great source of food for the wildlife. 

I returned on  the main trail in the middle of the peninsula and saw a red tailed hawk,  one of a few I saw, soar overhead. 

I continued on the trail and  I saw the first person on my five mile hike, who said he didn’t see any other people either. We chatted a bit and I hiked back to my car under the warm March sun. Now that I know a little more about the trail and the lake  from my exploration I am looking forward to returning again. Here is a link to some more photographs on my morning hike exploring Lake Ontelaunee on Sunday. Berks County Lake Ontelaunee hike March 21 2021

“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



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