My First Hike In Tobyhanna State Park In Monroe County And No Bears Here Either

My First Hike In Tobyhanna State Park In Monroe County And No Bears Here Either

Tobyhanna (49 of 51)
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Well I  didn’t hike in the Susquehanna Wetlands this past  Saturday.  I changed my usual routine.  Instead,  I hiked in  Tobyhanna State  Park. Located in Monroe County it is about 55 miles from my home in Luzerne County. It was my first hike in this park.  My  pursuit of the elusive black bears brought me  there.  Some friends were camping here the previous weekend  and saw a large black bear three times. They were told this bear is becoming a  nuisance and may  have to be removed.  Well I decided to try and get some photos before they removed  him.   And, of course, I love  exploring a State Park I haven’t visited before. 

Tobyhanna State Park I learned,   is a 5500 acre park that was once part of a military artillery range from 1914 to 1941. Unexploded shells can still be found in the remote areas of the park. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania re-acquired the land  in 1949  and created Tobyhanna State Park,  State Game lands 127 and Gouldsboro State Park.  I also learned the  Tobyhanna is a Native American word for ” “a stream whose banks are fringed with alder.”   There is a scenic 170 acre lake in the park. 

I was eager to explore the park, and find the bear, when I  arrived  at the boat launch park around 8:30 a.m. It was mostly cloudy and a pleasant 70 degrees when I  began my  hike on the  Lakeside Trail. The trail was well maintained as it followed the shore of the lake toward  the beach and camping area.  

The  clouds began to break up as  I approached the beach. 

I walked past the empty beach and continued in the direction of the camp grounds. I was  hoping to see the bear that has been annoying the campers. 

After I left the beach area, and followed the trail into the woods,  I noticed that many of trees along the trail   were  second growth red maple, yellow birch and some pine trees . I was surprised there were almost no oak trees in these woodlands.  I don’t usually hike in these type of woods..  Most of the woods near my home are primarily oak. 

There were  some late summer  wildflowers blooming along the trail, including  a few species of goldenrod. I never knew there were so many different  types  of  this late Sumer flower until I got my plant identification iPhone app , It tells me I saw  some grass-leaved goldenrod at the beginning of my hike , and  that I also saw

wrinkleleaf goldenrod and

 gray goldenrod later on my  6 mile hike. 

I saw  this prairie fleabane flower and 

 these parasol whitetop aster, and, 

these white wood asters  which were everywhere along  the trail throughout  my six mile hike. 

There were not man birds singing in the treetops.   Many of the migratory song birds have already flown south. I did see this red-eyed vireo,

this white breasted nuthatch and 

this gray catbird along the trail. 

The trail  brought me to an access road to the park.  It took me to   a bridge  that crossed over a wetland where the creek enters the lake.

Here I saw this great blue heron wading in the waters edge, 

and  I these pretty bottle gentian flowers in the wetlands. 

I continued to follow  the Lakeside Trail , but left  it and  walked  in  to the campgrounds  with the hope of seeing the bear. It had been seen roaming around the pavilions looking for leftovers. I was disappointed he wasn’t there on Saturday so I left the campgrounds and continued my hike .

The woodlands along the trail were still dominated by maple trees but there were also a lot of large black  cherry trees. I haven’t seen this  trees since my visit to God’s Country in Potter County last year. 

There were also some of the largest yellow birch trees I had ever seen growing along the trail .

There were  a lot of  folks using the trail, at  first it was only runners and bikers, but later I would see large groups of  young  campers hiking on the trail with their  elders. It was nice to see young folks experiencing nature. 

There were also some wild critters in the woodlands along the trail, I heard a lot of chipmunks, saw a few squirrels,

and a few deer, 

including this curious young buck who was watching me as I walked past. 

I was surprised there weren’t many birds in the woods along the trail. I heard some more red-eyed vireos, some  eastern wood peewees and black-capped chickadees but none came near the trail except this red-bellied woodpecker. 

The trail kept taking me away from the lake. There was no cell service and I had no map so I wondered if I was on the right trail. It sure wasn’t along the lake. I was relieved to  finally see this sign and knew I was on the right  trail. 

The trail now  turned and  was now taking me back to the lake. There were now more pine and beech  trees in the woods along the trail but it was still a mainly maple, birch and black cherry forest. 

I was hoping to maybe find some edible  mushrooms growing on my hike, but the ones I  know to be good edibles grow in oak forest.  I did see some mushrooms on my hike, including some false chanterelles, 

some type of philota mushroom, 

some waxcap mushrooms  and 

this carrot footed amanita. I do not believe any  of these are edible. 

The only wildflower growing on the trail were many clumps of white wood asters and these Canadian wood nettles. 

There were a lot of ferns  along the trail  including these interrupted ferns 

and these eastern hay-scented ferns. 

And I  saw some interrupted club moss, another plant I haven’t seen since my visit to Potter County. 

After about   4 miles the trail brought me back to the far side of the lake. There were many folks enjoying this portion of the trail. 

I finally walked along the  scenic lake again, where I saw  few  people in boats and kayaks on the lake. 

Along the lake I saw many of the wildflowers I had seen earlier and a lot of milkweed plants.

I inspected dozens of these plants looking for monarch butterfly caterpillars. Sadly, I didn’t see a one of these now endangered monarch   butterfly caterpillars. . 

I only saw this one tussock  moth caterpillar in the large  patches of milkweed.

I also saw these alder buckhorn berries  near the dam.  These trees are invasive, and are not the same alder trees that the Native Americans  would have seen. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the flowers and mushrooms I saw on my hike. Tobyhanna State park flowers and mushrooms September 3 2022. 

The trail took me past the dam on the lake, 

and back to the boat launch area where I parked my Jeep.

The boat launch area was  empty when I arrived but was now overflowing with people and vehicles enjoying this last unofficial weekend of Summer. I  didn’t see the bear, but I enjoyed my  5.8 miles around the lake.  I will visit again, but not during mushroom season. I need to hike in oak woods to find the edible mushrooms I enjoy. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my 6 mile hike. Tobyhanna State Park September 3 2022. 

A lake is the 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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