It’s June And The Mountain Laurel Is In Bloom: A Couple Of Hikes In Weiser State Forest

It’s June And The Mountain Laurel Is In Bloom: A Couple Of Hikes In Weiser State Forest

Weiser State Forest (41 of 50)
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Mountain Laurel is our state flower here in Pennsylvania.  A walk through the woodlands of our  State in mid June will show why. When the mountain laurel is in bloom the mountains are filled with color.  Various shades of white and pink flowers are scattered throughout the forest.  I hiked in the Weiser State Forest on Saturday morning hoping to see some of these beautiful flowers.mountain laurel

My first hike was not successful in my search for the mountain laurel.  It began  in the morning on the Roaring Creek Trail. I parked at the Route 42 entrance. This  8 mile well maintained and busy  trail follows the Roaring Creek making it way down from the Catawissa Mountain on its way to the Susquehanna River.  There are  three reservoirs along the creek. The first  reservoir is next to the parking lot. Canoeing and kayaking are allowed on this lake and there were a few folks partaking of these activities on this sunny, cool June morning. trees along lake

There were also a lot of hikers, bikers and dog walkers on the wide trail. The trail  passes through thick forest and a canopy of branches overhangs much of the trail. tree lined trail

The sound of birds could be heard in the treetops but they were difficult to see in the thick foliage. Only a few robins scampered on the ground and lower branches  in search  of insects and warm. robin on branch

There were, however, many varieties of wildflowers growing on the trail including  wild geraniums.wild geranium

There were also  hundreds of buttercups scattered along the trail. 

And where there are flowers there are insects and butterflies. I found this butterfly along the trail. 

There were a lot of people on the trail  and that is not a good thing for seeing wildlife. So, when I came to a side trail leading into the forest I followed it. It took me to a bridge that crossed the Roaring Creek. 

There were wetlands on both side of the creek and here I found stargrass flowers, star flower

and a wild iris growing in the wet soil.

The trail  continued to follow the creek as it flowed through the forest and I decided to follow it.  Again I heard the songs of many birds in the trees but they were difficult to see and even harder to photograph. I was able to photograph this fellow, a type of flycatcher I think. 

Amianthium or fly poison could also be seen growing around the wooded trail. The name of the plant comes from its use by early American settlers to kill flies. The poisonous bulb was mixed with sugar and used for that purpose. 

It was now around 10 a.m. and I had to head back to attend my nephew Mikey’s State Trap Shoot Competition in nearby Elysburg . So I headed back to the main trail seeing this hairy woodpecker on the way. I was disappointed to not find any mountain laurel growing on this trail.

I spent about an 1 1/2 at my nephew’s shoot. He is a senior at the Hazleton Area High School and this was his last shoot as a student. He did qualify for the US Olympic Bunker Trap Shooting Competition. He is attending this event with his proud parents as I type this blog post.  Congratulations Mikey!!!

After the event I returned to the Weiser State Forest and this time  decided to hike on the trails atop the mountain at the entrance to the visitor center of the forest. 

Up here at the higher elevation it didn’t take me long to find the mountain laurel in bloom. mountain laurel

I found it growing along the trails as soon as I began my hike on Pond Trail that starts at the visitor center. The flowers stood out in the lush green vegetation.mountain laurel  

The colors ranged from pure white to a deep pink with many variations between. There is nothing like a walk on a sunny day in the mountains with the mountain laurel in bloom. mountain laurel

The Pond Trail follows a long deep stip mine that has long been abandoned. The forest has regrown and created a great natural area to hike, 

Once again I heard the singing of birds in the surrounding woods but couldn’t see them in the thick leaf cover. I was able to see,  and photograph,  this squirrel. 

The trail ended near  a couple of ponds that were created from the strip coal mining that took place in this area.  Like many of this ponds near my home they have become the home for a variety of wildlife. I saw a number of frogs jump into the pond. And there were dozens of dragonflies darting and hovering   around the ponds.

I walked another three miles under the intense June sun. I didn’t see any  more birds or wildlife but I enjoyed the beauty of the mountain laurel. I love hiking in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania all year-long but my favorite hikes are in June when the mountain laurel is in bloom. This is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hikes. Weiser State Forest hikes June 8 2019

 My bonnie flower, with truest joy
Thy welcome face I see,
The world grows brighter to my eyes,
And summer comes with thee.
My solitude now finds a friend,
And after each hard day,
I in my mountain garden walk,
To rest, or sing, or pray.

All down the rocky slope is spread
Thy veil of rosy snow,
And in the valley by the brook,
Thy deeper blossoms grow.
The barren wilderness grows fair,
Such beauty dost thou give;
And human eyes and Nature’s heart
Rejoice that thou dost live.

Each year I wait thy coming, dear,
Each year I love thee more,
For life grows hard, and much I need
Thy honey for my store.
So, like a hungry bee, I sip
Sweet lessons from thy cup,
And sitting at a flower’s feet,
My soul learns to look up.

No laurels shall I ever win,
No splendid blossoms bear,
But gratefully receive and use
God’s blessed sun and air;
And, blooming where my lot is cast,
Grow happy and content,
Making some barren spot more fair,
For a humble life well spent.

Louisa May Alcott