My First Winter Walk In Leaser Lake in Lehigh County
It was just last year when I first visited Lesser Lake in late March . I enjoyed my hike around the scenic lake situated below the Blue Mountain in Lehigh County. I also was fascinated by the local history and it’s connection to the Liberty Bell. I hiked there again last Summer and Fall. I like to observe the seasonal change so I wanted to hike there before the Winter ended this year. ((Although we did not have much of a Winter this year). So, early Saturday morning I drove the 30 miles from my home in Luzerne County to the north boat launch parking lot at Leaser Lake.
It was cloudy with a seasonably cold 20 degrees when I arrived. It had been a very mild Winter here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. There has been little snow and no ice on the lakes, ponds, streams or rivers. However a cold front passed through Friday bringing normally colder temperatures, but not enough to freeze the waters of Leaser Lake. I hoped to see some ducks, geese or other water fowl on the open waters on my five mile hike around the lake.
And sure enough a large flock of Canada geese, in their familiar Vee shaped formation, flew over the lake as began my hike.
I walked on the west side of the lake on the Lake Loop Trail. This start of the trail passes through a mixed oak, maple hemlock woodland. I saw a lot of migratory song birds here on my visits last Spring and Summer. I expected to see some of the Winter resident birds here but I saw no wildlife on this stretch of the trail.
The rocky trail crossed a few streams flowing into the lake.
The woodlands were mostly gray and brown, except for the hemlock trees, and the many Christmas ferns growing along the trail.
There were also some patches of American climacium moss (which I haven’t seen before) and
a few marginal wood ferns providing some more green colors to the drab wintery scene. ( I am, by no means, a plant expert and rely on my PictureThis app for these identifications and I apologize for any misidentification. Same thing for any birds, insect, or wildlife identifications I make. I try my best but I know I make mistakes. Please feel free to correct me and I will change anything I get wrong.)
Along an inlet of the lake I saw a small flock of bufflehead ducks in the distance but, as I approached, a few wood ducks immediately flew off , taking the bufflehead ducks with them.
The trail leaves the woodlands and continues along the lake with open fields on the other side of the trail. I like hiking here at Leaser Lake because there are so many different habitats along the lake.
I was again surprised and disappointed not to see any birds in these fields. I thought I’d see some of the birds that stay with us for the Winter. I did see another large flock of Canada geese fly toward the lake,
and they decided to land on it’s open waters. It was a large flock, and their loud honking provided a pleasant sounding symphony for the remainder of my hike. Geese honking always reminds me of Spring.
I continued along the shores of the lake, taking in the somber views of the lake under the overcast sky.
It was a quiet and reflective hike.
The trail followed another arm or inlet of the lake and gradually became a wetland. Here I thought for sure I’d see some water fowl but again only a few wood ducks flew off as I approached.
I did finally see some the the Winter resident birds here, including this eastern bluebird,
a few song sparrows. black-capped chickadees,
and a pair of these elegant birds. cedar waxwings.
I love to photograph these birds and I was surprised to see them here in February.
As I walked along the wetland I encountered two of the three other hikers I would see on my five mile walk. In the warmer months I encounter dozens of hikers, dog walkers, and fishermen along the lake. There are always small boats on the lake, but not a one on this dreary February morning.
Along the wet lands there were the remains of last years plants, cattails,
and Indian hemp dogbane seeds.
They reminded me that soon the cycle will be repeated as evidenced by the catkins appearing on the gray alder trees along the lake. Spring will soon be here.
The trail took me to the main parking last and the crest of the dam. The purple martin nests have been removed but will soon re-appear as will the flocks of purple martins . It fascinates me to know they are now on there way back from South America where the spend our Winter.
I continued my hike on the eastern side of the lake. At first it descended through a pine woodland then continued on fields above the lake providing scenic views of the lake and mountains.
Here I encountered a lot more bird activity, I saw this white-breasted nuthatch,
that was searching a tree for insect almost directly over my head.
I also saw a few more song sparrows and
The trail continued through fields above the eastern side of the lake, and as I walked above the lake, I noticed a pair of common mergansers on the lake below, but they flew off as I approached.
The trail took me to the monument to Frederick Leaser, the local farmer who helped transport the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to Allentown during the Revolutionary War. I didn’t know this until my first visit here last year. His homestead is only a mile from the lake. Of course, Leaser Lake was named after him. I hope to hike to the homestead on my next visit.
The last leg of my five mile hike took me through some farm fields. Last year a crop of soy beans grew here. I enjoyed views of the Blue Mountain from here and reflected on Frederick Leaser and his wife living in what was then a beautiful, vast and unspoiled wilderness.
The trail was now following another inlet or arm of the lake. Here I saw a few bufflehead ducks, this is a male,
and a few ring necked ducks, as well as a large flock of Canadas geese.
The trail then entered another woodland, and crossed a rocky wetlands.
Here I saw some partridge berries from last year,
and another sign of Spring, skunk cabbages., sprouting in the wetlands.
Finally I came back to the lake at the north boat launch parking lot. where I saw this hairy woodpecker. and a
Carolina wren. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Leaser Lake hike birds February 26 2023.
There were still no cars at the parking lot. I stood and viewed the lake without the hustle and bustle of the fishermen, hikers and boaters I had seen in the warmer months. It was a nice and peaceful hike. I hope to return soon, to greet the purple martins and other migrating birds returning from the tropics. I am sure when I do I will not be the only ones enjoying this scenic lake. The crowds of Spring and Summer will return too. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my hike around Leaser Lake in Lehigh County. Leaser Lake hike February 26 2023.
“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.” -Edgar Allan Poe