No Mushrooms But A Nice Hike In The Weiser Stater Forest Roaring Creek Tract
My search for the orange birch, aspen and oak bolete mushrooms took me to the Roaring Creek Tract of the Weiser State Forest in Columbia County last Sunday. I had hiked there a few times and thought it might be a good place to look for these mushrooms. My family has gathered these “red top” mushrooms, as dad called them, since I was a child. As I related in prior blog posts the woods were I have been finding them for 25 years was leveled for industrial development. So I must find now a new area where they grow.
When I last hiked here in the Weiser Forest I remember seeing birch and pine trees growing along the trails in the former strip mined areas of the forest. This type of woodland is similar to my old area where I found them. . Unfortunately I soon learned that the pine trees weren’t the white pine favored by these mushrooms but rather pitch pine and hemlock trees. And the birch woods were overgrown and also not a good habitat for the mushrooms.
Although I didn’t find any of the “red top” mushrooms I did find a few red russula
and white amanita mushrooms along the Pond Trail. The amanita may be a destroying angel and would be lethal if eaten. You should not consume wild mushrooms unless you absolutely are 100% they are edible.
The weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania had changed overnight with the arrival of a cold front. It was partly cloudy, windy and cool when I began my hike early Sunday morning. I was disappointed when I didn’t find any bolete mushrooms on the Pond Trail but decided to stay in the park and I hiked down the Headwaters trail.
I hoped to find some other edible mushrooms,such as the hen of the woods (ramheads we call them) and chicken mushrooms, in the deeper woods along this trail. As the chilly wind blew in the tree tops there were signs of the approaching Fall along the trail. There were many acorns scattered on the ground,
and a few red partridge berries.
There were not many birds singing in the tree tops. Many already began their journey south. And I only had my macro lens with me. (I took the landscape photos with my iPhone). However I was still able to capture a photo of this turkey vulture perched high in a tree top, It may have been taking advantage of the strong northerly winds to begin it’s journey south for the Winter.
As I walked down the mountain side on the Headwaters trail I found a few more mushrooms, including, one of my favorites, a black velvet bolete. These mushrooms only grow on the roots of oak trees. The woods were mainly hemlock and pine but there were a few oaks and beech trees too, Unfortunately it was to old to eat
I also found an old chicken mushroom,
and a few other non edible mushrooms including a poisonous pigskin puffball.
Hanging on a silk thread was this interesting caterpillar which I could not identify.
I stopped and watched it squirm its way to the ground.
It seems I always find something of interest on my hikes. And I came across these interesting plant.
They are pinesaps and closely related to the white Indian pipes. Like the Indian pipes they are parasitic and have a complex relationship with mushrooms and the roots of trees.
I followed the Headwaters trail, under a canopy of old trees, to its end. There was a little used trail beyond the Headwaters Trail and I continued on. I came to a pole line.
Crossing the pole line, I continued to follow the trail and I came to an isolated valley with only one farm house and a barn.
I may have un-intentionally trespassed, since on my walk back I found a no trespassing sign on the entrance to the trail.
However there was none on the other side of the trail . I always respect posted property on my hikes.
It was now a long hike back up the mountain . I saw almost no wildlife on my way back. As I neared the end of seven mile hike, I found a field of wildflowers near the Weiser State Forest Visitor Center. Here the coneflowers,goldenrod and beebalm flowers,
attracted insects and butterflies. I think this is a pearl crescent butterfly.
There were also fritillary butterflies,
and a few others I could not identify.
Of course there were many grasshoppers jumping from plant to plant. They are everywhere this time of year.
It was near noon, and i was hungry so i left the butterflies and flowers and ended my hike. I didn’t find any edible mushrooms but I still enjoyed, as i always do, my seven mile hike in woods of Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in Weiser State Forest. Weiser State Forest Roaring Creek Tracy August 30 2020
“Perhaps there is no thrill so great as that which comes with a walk in the freshness of morning air.”