It Didn’t Take Long To Return To The Weiser State Forest.
After learning about, and hiking in , the Weiser State Forest last Saturday, I knew it wouldn’t be long until I returned. And it wasn’t. I decided to do some more exploration of this area the very next day.
It was a sunny and very windy June morning when I arrived at the visitor center and forest office. . The center was closed since it was Sunday and I didn’t have a map of the trails so I decided to hike on the first trail I found, the Pond Trail which was on the east side of the visitor center’s grounds.
The trail began along an old strip mine to the north. It was lined with pine trees that must have been planted when portions of the mine were reclaimed. I was a good day to be exploring the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania since the state flower, the mountain laurel was in bloom.
This is always one of my favorite times of year, and especially on a day when the the intense June sun was shining. The flowers vary in color to pure white to almost pink, with many shades in between. They provide a beautiful contrast to the bright green shades of the still young leaves of the trees, bushes and plants on the trail.
I walked out about a 1/2 mile and came upon another trail heading to the south, the Headwater trail. I decided to see where this would lead and it quickly led me into an older second growth forest along the banks of an old creek.
The creek most have been diverted by the coal mining activity in the area. since there were no waters flowing after some rain we had last week. And, judging by the size of the boulders in the creek bed, I am sure it at one time contained fast moving waters.
Along the trail I found the new blossoms of fly poison, a native plant very common in the mountains of northeastern pennsylvania. The bulb of this plant was mixed with sugar by American colonists to kill flies
The trail, again lined with mountain laurel, also had a lot of birds singing in the thick leaf cover overhead. I once again had a hard time finding and identifying them, let alone being able to photograph them. I was able to get a photograph of this one. I now knew immediately that is was an oven bird, having learned this a few weeks ago from my new birding friends.
I followed the trail back to the visitor center and found another trail that led up the side of a mountain. It was designed as a project for an Eagle scout. The trail again wound its way up the hill through heavily forested woods lined with mountain laurel.
It ended at a highway and I thought it had to continue on, since it would be strange to end in the middle of a road. I didn’t have a trail a map but, after some investigation found a red trail marker on the other side of the highway, and continued to follow the trail.
It proceeded into a very old strip mined area. You could tell it was old by the size of the trees that has grown in along the old strip mined banks. It was the type of area I was familiar with since a large portion of the woods in the area I grew up in were strip mines that had grown in with birch, aspen and pine trees.
The trail led uphill and intersected with another trail, the Big Mountain Trail, which I learned runs along the entire length of the Roaring Creek Tract of the Weiser State Forest atop the southerly mountain through which the southern branch of Roaring Creek flows.
The trail was atop the mountain and so I got the full force of the strong northerly wind that was blowing that morning. I enjoyed the wind blowing the light green leaves across the deep blue sky as I walked along a narrow path along an old aqueduct.
I could have walked until sundown had I had the time. But I didn’t and I sadly had to turn back. I retraced my steps down to the Black Road Trail. Along the trail I found a few stands of young American Chestnut trees. The american chestnut tree once dominated the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania. Many were cut down for timber for the coal mines and then, the remaining trees were devastated by a blight at the beginning of the last century. They will grow to about this size and then succumb to the blight.
I followed the trail down the mountain and back to the visitor center. It was a beautiful morning to explore this vast tract of woodland and I am sure there are even more heavily forested areas in this tract of state forest. I look forward to returning and exploring them. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/weiser-state-forest-june-13-2016
“I love the tactile experience of walking in the woods. It’s muted browns, grays, and greens comfort me. The moss and leaves five softly under my boots. Large, scattered rocks feel permanent and unshakable. The pull of the mountain is like gravity for my soul.”
― Heather Day Gilbert,