No Bear, But Some Birds And A Snake On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails.
On Saturday evening I received a text from a friend that there was a large male black bear on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. So, of course on Sunday morning I was driving to the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails to look for the bear.
I decided to start my hike at he northeastern access parking lot near village of Hazle Brook. It is more isolated out there and I thought I’d have a better chance to see the bear. It was a beautiful June morning. The sun was shining in hazy blue skies. The temperature was in the 70’s when I began my hike around 7;30 a.m. I love walking in the woods in early Summer, when everything is still lush and green,.
There is an old pond that was used by the coal companies to pump water when the mines were in operation, I always walk to it’s shore since I often see birds near the water, And I did on Sunday. I saw a few gray catbirds,
I continued on the trail which left the older second growth oak/pine maple forest and entered into a former strip coal mining woodland. Here white birch, aspen and pine trees grown in the culm and slag left from the strip mining operations. I am very familiar with these woods since the neighborhood were I grew up in the Green Ridge section of Hazle Township was near strip mined land. This land was our playgrounds.
The trail proceeded through the strip mined area for about 1/4 of a mile then, after passing underneath an active mining haul road through a culvert, continued through a vast mine reclamation area. There was one a large stirp mining pit here before it was reclaimed about 2o years ago. White birch, locusts, pine and aspen trees now grow here along the trail. It is already a nice area to hike through and will only get nicer as the trees mature.
At the end of the reclamation area, the trail crosses an active railroad right of way on a new bridge built by the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails. As I have stated in many previous blogs the trail follows an old railroad right of way and this bridge replaced the originally bridge built in the 1890’s.
The railroad track below the new bridge was the old Hazleton and then Lehigh Valley railroad. They were originally built in the 1830’s and brought most of the immigrant miners , including my grand parents and great- grandparents. to the coal mines from Ellis Island in New York after they arrived from Europe.
After crossing the bridge the trail again passes through some abandoned strip mine areas with second growth white birch, pine and aspen trees. Small oak and maple trees are also starting to appear in this area.
The trail continues through the old strip mine area now covered with second growth forest. There is a a small pond or lake that created from a strip mine pit filing with water along the trail. A bench near the pond provides for a scenic place to take a rest.
I also saw this critter slowly slithering across the old road, an eastern hog-nose snake.
After seeing the snake, I continued my hike and came to the pine and heath barrens, These areas were first by lighting strikes and , then Native Americas to gather berries and hunt game. I have written a few lbog post about them you can research in my blog archives. I also provided the bold link to some more information.
The trail now made a big curve to take it around a ridge. There were thicker woods here and it was in this area I hoped to see the bear. I didn’t. I did see this curious deer that stopped to look at me.
and a couple of house wrens. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my seven mile hike. Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails birds June 26 2022.
The rising temperature and strong June sun had me appreciate the shade of the large old trees as I neared the parking lot and the end of my 7 mile hike. I was disappointed I didn’t see the bear, I usually quite a few of them, on my hikes and in my back yard, but not this year. It was still another great hike on this great trail. It truly is a wonderful asset to our area. If you haven’t been here check it out for yourself. You won’t regret it. . Here is another gallery with more photos from my hike. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails hike June 26 2022.
“Perhaps there is no thrill so great as that which comes with a walk in the freshness of morning air.”