My First Visit To Scenic And Historic Leaser Lake Park In Lehigh County

My First Visit To Scenic And Historic Leaser Lake Park In Lehigh County

Lesser lake (28 of 40)
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Before Saturday morning I never heard of Leaser Lake Park.  I had visited my favorite hiking area, the Susquehanna Wetlands in Luzerne County on Friday. I  pretty much hike there every week. I have come to love this little nature preserve in Salem Township.  When I’m not in the Wetlands I try and explore and  hike on one of the many other wonderful  trails we have here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  On Saturday I wanted to hike near a  lake and  wetlands to   look for the  water fowl migrating through our area.  I knew of  a few lakes and wetland areas but I  wanted to try something new. 

By chance, I  remembered a birding and wildlife guide a friend had given me.  Leafing through its pages  I learned about Leaser Lake. It is located  in northern Lehigh County only 28 miles from my home. It is about the same distance from my home  as the Susquehanna Wetlands.  It was a  pleasant and scenic drive to the lake.

It was cloudy and cool with temperatures in the 40’s when I arrived .  The clouds shrouded the lake  so I couldn’t see much of  the surrounding landscape. I did see a number of  small  boats on the lake. The fishermen were out early. I could also hear the honking of Canada geese in the distance. I was excited and hoped to see some of the many ducks that are now on our ponds, lakes and rivers. 

I looked for the  4 mile trail that would take me around the 117 acre lake.  The lake  was created by the Pennsylvania Fish Commission in the 1970’s.  I found the trail on the right side of the parking area off of  Ontelaunee Road.  It took me into a mixed oak/hemlock/beech woodland. It was a little wet and muddy and crossed over a few  small streams. 

There were  Christmas ferns along the trail, 

and two plants I have never seen before, I believe these are native common rockcap ferns, and 

this fan clubmoss.  I just learned it is  very common but I haven’t seen any of this moss before either. I love  exploring new places and learning about the flora and fauna in the area. 

The only fauna I saw on this first leg of my five mile hike were a couple tufted titmice fluttering,

and singing above me in the hemlock trees. 

The trail sloped upward, and after crossing a bridge,  took me to some open fields as it now followed the shoreline of Leaser Lake. 

There were some trees in the fields along the lake, mostly  red maple,  birch, hazel  alder, 

and some Norway spruce. 

I was disappointed that there were not any ducks or other water fowl on the lake.  I heard the honking of Canada geese in the distance but didn’t see any. The only birds, and  there were a lot of them ,  were the red winged black-birds. I would see dozens of them on my hike.

These migratory birds are some of the first to return to our area in the early Spring. They are noisy and their raspy cries echo in our wetlands throughout the Spring and Summer.    Usually it is the male bird I see perched high on a branch top singing loudly to attract a female or to define their territory.  They are very territorial birds and aggressively defend these territories.

On this hike I saw a few females also singing  in the tree tops. 

The trail continued uphill along the lake provided views of scenic Blue Mountain.  It was still cloudy  but the scenery was still spectacular. I am sure it is even more so on a sunny day. 

The trail followed  arms of the lake that jutted  out into the surrounding farmland. 

These arms narrowed and formed some wetlands. 

Again I was disappointed I didn’t see any ducks or water fowl but I saw a lot more red-winged blackbirds, some northern cardinals, this is the male

and this a female, 

a few song sparrows and

this white-throated sparrow in the trees and shrubs along the wetlands. I am sure there will be a lot of song birds migrating through this area in a few weeks. 

The trail now took me to the main entrance of the lake, not far from the small town of Jacksonville. It’s church could be in the distance across the lake. It was another scenic view, made even more enjoyable by the smell of smoke from grass fire on a nearby property.  I love the smell of smoke in the woods in the morning. 

Near the main entrance I found this sign identifying the many fish the live in the lake. 

Before crossing the newly built bridge that takes one across the dam on the lake I saw these spaceship like objects.  I had no idea what  they were but soon learned they were  housing developments for purple martins.  These birds are the the largest of the swallows that live in Northeastern Pennsylvania and will soon be returning from their Winter homes in South America to live here for the Summer. I will have to return and photograph them. 

After crossing the breast of the dam the trail sloped upward again. Upon reaching the hill top I again had a great view of the Blue Mountain and the surrounding countryside. I stood and  took in this  peaceful and bucolic scene. It certainly is a place which can reflect and be inspired by the tranquil scenery .

I  continued my walk and followed the trail back down to the lake. I was still  disappointed that there weren’t more water fowl on the lake.  There were still  a lot of red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, and now a few robins along the shores of the lake. 

As I walked along this   beautiful lake  nestled in  the mountains of my beloved Northeastern Pennsylvania I  wondered how I never heard of it before. I also wondered how it got it’s name. Leaser Lake, I thought,   was  a very peculiar name for a lake. Well I soon learned the origin of the name. And  I was surprised, amazed and honored when  I learned it was named after the local farmer who transported   the Liberty Bell,  one of our most cherished National symbols  , from the invading British army. He transported the Liberty Bell from Bethlehem to Allentown on September 24 1777. He lived not far from the lake. His farm and  homestead, built in 1750,  is on the  National Register of Historic Places.  It is amazing how much we  don’t know. 

I reflected on this man and his life in this valley on the edge of the wilderness as I continued my walk around the scenic lake. The trail now crossed some old farm fields. Here I saw some grackles and

an eastern bluebird..

The trail then approached the lake again and I finally saw some water fowl, although they were  only a pair of very common Canada geese. They would be the last birds I would see on my five mile hike. This is a link to a gallery  on my blog website with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Leaser Lake birds March 19 2022

The trail briefly followed the Ontelaunee Road before  entering some woodlands and a stream that flowed into the lake.  The trail was a bit wet and rocky, and , as  it neared the lake,  the marking on the trail were hard to follow. I lost the trail and walked into some wetlands.

Here I saw another species of  moss. According to my PictureThis App it is shining clubmoss. 

I also saw  a sure sign of Spring, the lowly skunk cabbages were emerging from the muddy soil.

I eventually found the trail and it was a short walk to the parking lot were I had parked my Jeep.  The skies were mostly clear now and I was now able to enjoy this view of the lake.

I was a little disappointed I had not seen the ducks, water fowl, bald eagle or some other more exciting and exotic critters on my five mile hike. But I was glad to have discovered this wonderful lake and I know I will be returning again soon. There are so many hidden gems in our beautiful mountains and I love finding them, exploring them and sharing the beauty I find.  Here  is a link to a gallery in my blog website with some more photographs from my hike around Leaser Lake. Leaser Lake March 19 2022. 


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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