Pinchot State Forest: A Hike To Crystal Lake
It was a mild January day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania yesterday. I decided to explore the Pinchot State Forest and Crystal Lake. Located about 25 miles northeast of my home, I noticed the lake on the maps when I hiked in the nearby State game lands in Dennison Township.
It looked like there would be some wetlands around the lake and I hoped to see some wildlife on my hike. I arrived at a parking area along the the D & L Trail just outside of Glen Summit. I met a fellow who was taking his dog for a walk on the road leading to the reservoir. He was ahead of me and would scare any wildlife so I decided to walk up the the Big Wapwallopen Creek to the lake.
I knew of the “Big Wap” from my high school days when my friends would fish this creek were it entered the Susquehanna River near Berwick. I had no idea it’s headwaters were up here.
As I set out on my hike I saw a group of woodpeckers fluttering in the trees above me. I believe they were hairy woodpeckers although it is hard to distinguish them from the very similar downy woodpecker.
I know the lack of spots on the outer tail feathers and larger size of the bill are the identifying features but it is still hard for me to tell the difference.
It was a little rough walking up along the creek but it was worth seeing some of the ancient hemlock and yellow birch trees growing alongs the banks of the stream.
I also came upon some old ruins which must have been associated with an aqueduct that supplied the city of Wilkes-Barre with water many years ago.
I continued my upward climb along the creek until it got too steep and covered in thick brush. I left the creek and followed a path along a new waterline. It led me to the treatment facility of the local water company. I followed the road up to a large dam and completely frozen Crystal Lake. It is situated atop what I think is Penobscot Mountain.
I am sure there would be plenty of birds and waterfowl in the warmer months but I didn’t see a living thing on the frozen waters.
I followed a trail that began near the lake and proceeded south and east. I saw a few golden-crowned kinglets feeding in some thick woods at the start of the trail ,
I soon came upon some wetlands but there was no birds or other wildlife to be found on the frozen waters.
The trail entered a large expanse of scrub oaks. I have hiked many hours in the scrub oak forest atop the mountains where I live.
These forest are usually home to deer, small animals and, in the summer, many species of birds. On this walk I didn’t see or hear any sound of wildlife for almost a mile. It was only when I neared a few pitch pine trees towering over the scrub oaks that I heard a few blue jays and black-capped chickadees in the distance.
The harsh weather conditions on top of the mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania create these forest. And these same conditions make it a difficult place to live in the winter.
I walked out about another mile before I decided to return. The sun was warming it up now but I still did not see a single bird in the scrub oak forest. I did see a few teaberries growing along the trail.
Once I neared the lake I again saw a few nuthatches, black-capped chickadee and this tufted titmouse.
I walked the road back to the parking area and a flock of golden-crowned kinglets fluttered alongside me as I descended the mountain top.
I was soon at my car, reading a guide and map of the Pinchot State Forest that I picked up at the parking area. I know I will be exploring the many large tracts of land that make up this forest in the near future. And I hope to find much more wildlife on my next visit to Crystal lake. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike to Crystal Lake. Crystal Lake hike photographs January 27 2018.
“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.”
― Roman Payne