Roaring Creek Trail, Weiser State Forest Hike. A New Playground?
I have to thank my nephew Mikey for introducing me to a new, and beautiful world to hike and explore, only 30 miles from my front door. He had a high school trap shooting event in Elysburg yesterday morning and, although I am not a big gun person, I had to attend and support him and his team. Of course, I had to get my walking in and looked for places to hike before the match. . I sure found one. And I have a feeling I will be doing a lot of hiking in this area in the future. Strange how it was so close to me and yet I never heard of the Weiser State Forest. I do now.
This state forest covers almost 30,000 acres of land in a number of tracts in seven counties. I hiked the Roaring Creek Tract near Elysburg yesterday. I only had a couple of hours so only got to see a small part of the forest. The parking area is a few miles south of Elysburg on route 54. I left my car and started hiking east on a hard gravel road known as the Roaring Creek Trail.
The trail had a few runners, hikers and bikers on it but not as I would have expected considering how well maintained it was and it’s natural beauty.
The trail begins near one of three reservoirs along the south branch of the Roaring Creek. I left the main trail and hiked down to the water under a canopy of large oak and hemlock . The reservoir is open to fishing although I only saw one person engaging in this activity.
Overheard I again heard the singing of many birds but had a hard time identifying them because of the now thick leaf cover of the trees. I also heard the rapping of woodpeckers and knew they were in the area from seeing this tree filled with holes, the results of their search for insects.
I hiked back up to the trail and noticed it was mainly second growth forests to the south of the reservoir. I learned that this was one of the first forest created in Pennsylvania the 1890’s after the realization that the original forest may never grow back without protection.
Along the trail were many native wild plants It was a cool night and there was not much insect activity on the many stands of daisies along the trail when I began my hike. .
On the way back,after it had warmed up a bit, I did start to notice a few bees and other insects visiting the daisies and other flowers along the trail.
And in a few weeks this will be the ideal place to search for butterflies and other insects. The trail was lined with milkweed, which will attract the monarch butterflies, the only food source for their larvae. .
And their were many thistle plants along the edge of the forest, another attractive flower for many types of insects.
The trail continued along the reservoir for about 3/4 of a mile when I came a trail that left the gravel trail and sloped downward. . I decided to see what was there and walked it down to a bridge over the Roaring Creek.
It was a peaceful place. I enjoyed the gentle gurgling of the creek and singing of the birds. The only complaint would be the swarms of gnats which seem to be everywhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year. The only other wildlife I encountered was this solitary red spotted newt. They are usually seen in great numbers after a rain latter in the year and I was surprised to see this fellow so early in the season.
Near the creek I found a quite a few of these flowers which I believe are yellow stargrass.
I also found these mushrooms growing in this wet area, a good sign for a mushroom hunter like me.
The trail took a steep climb up, what I later learned, was Little Mountain. It wasn’t easy but it felt good to get my heart racing and calves burning after many weeks of hiking in the flat PPL Wetlands. I couldn’t follow it to the top since I had to be at my nephews match so I headed down, leaving it to another day to reach the top.
I walked back to the main gravel trail and learned I was on the Natalie Trail, a path used by coal miners living in the town of Bear Gap to get to their work in the mines in Natalie. You have to admire these men,working up to twelve hours a day, underground, six days a week. . In the Winter this meant never seeing the sun except on Sundays. So for many months of the year they hiked this steep rocky trail at night. I hope to finish the hike up this trail and do more research for a post on another day.
I hiked the trail for about another mile and knew I’d have to hike back out here with my macro lens in a few weeks. The trails was lined with the daisies, thistle, milkweed , large stands of mullein and many other wild plants. I am guessing, in a few weeks, it will be a butterfly and insect feeding ground.
I wished I could have hiked to the two other reservoirs but I had to head back. The sun had now broken through the cloud cover and made for a nice hike back to my car. I was so glad to find this wonderful place so close to my home. I knew one thing for certain I would be back many times in the future. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/roaring-creek-trail-weiser-state-forest-june-11-2016
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
― Chris Maser,