No Bear, But Some Birds And A Snake On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails.

No Bear, But Some Birds And A Snake On The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails.

Rails to Trails (29 of 50)
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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 were still some mountain laurel blooming along  the trail, but

they were past their peak and most had  already faded, It was still nice to see the ones that remained. They are beautiful flowers, 

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,

and this common American robin in the branches of the trees near the pond.

There was also a black and white warbler and 

an eastern phoebe singing in the woods. 

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. 

As is  usual  in these strip mined areas, there were a lot of daisies  and

yellow field mustard growing along the trail.

I also saw this pretty flower. I believe it is blue flax,  an invasive  species from Europe. 

And whether they be native or invasive, flowers attract insects and this  pretty butterfly. 

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.

A few weeks ago, during the peak song bird migration I saw dozens of some birds in these young woodlands. Not this time, the only bird I saw was this male goldfinch. 

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. 

Here I heard a few oven birds,  and then saw this one that was singing near the bridge.

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. 

Soon after passing the pond the trail follows the abandoned road to the former Beryllium  plant. Along the old road these poke milkweed, 

and common mullein flowers grew. 

I also saw this critter slowly slithering across the old road, an eastern  hog-nose snake. 

These non-venomous snakes puff their head out to appear bigger, almost cobra-like, to frighten predators. They also will play dead if the puffed head trick doesn’t work. 

This fellow only used the first trick, and hissed a lot before crawling away. 

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.

After the pine barrens the trail continues to older second growth forest again. 

Here I was pleased to see one of the more colorful birds that migrate here in the  Spring, a male red-breasted grosbeak. These birds migrate for Central and South America and the Caribbean. 

They are beautiful birds. 

I also saw  an eastern towhee,

a blue-headed vireo, 

and another colorful bird, a scarlet tanager. 

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.

There were some more mountain laurel still blooming in these deeper  woods along this section of the trail. 

I walked for about another half mile when I decided to turn back.  I had walked out about 3 1/2 miles.  

The strong June sun had warmed it up. The temperature was now in the mid 80’s. It was still a nice walk back

On the way I noticed this mushroom and 

some sheep laurel in the woods along the trail.

Walking through the reclamation area, I saw this prairie warbler, 

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.”
― Hellen Keller

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