The First Hint Of Fall Color At the Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails
The first colors of Fall appeared here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week. The red maple, gray birch and aspen trees are the first trees to show hints of the annual explosion of color that occurs in our woodlands. The shortening days and cooler temperatures that arrive in the Fall start this slow process. I decided to enjoy the mild October weather and observe the first changing leaves on a couple of hikes on the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails last week. The trail is near my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County.
On Monday I started my hike at the Hazle Township entrance. It was a sunny and mild October afternoon Many of the trees still had their green leaves but there were also some yellow and red colors on the maples, aspens and birch trees especially near the entrance.
I followed the trail around a curve and along the Butler Preserve. This preserve protects a rare scrub oak and pine barrens on a ridge above the trail. The red maple trees along the trail were a nice preview of the coming transformation the trees will display for us in the coming weeks.
There were a few mushrooms growing along the trail including this birch scaber bolete. This is one of the edible mushrooms my family gathers and uses in our traditional Polish Holy Supper mushroom soup on Christmas Eve.
I only walked out 1 1/2 miles on this hikes. I was a little disappointed I didn’t see more birds or other wildlife. I have heard there were a couple of bear sighting on this part of the trail. It was still a nice day to be outdoors and it is always a pleasant hike on our Rails to Trail.
I returned to the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails the next afternoon. It was an even warmer day with temperatures in the 70’s. This time I started my hike on the other side of the trail, on the Hazle Brook Road. I was hoping to see some more wildlife in the deeper woods and the mine reclamation areas on this section of the trail.The woods at the start of the trail are mostly oak and were still mostly green with no fall color. The oak trees are the last trees to sprout leaves in the Spring and the last to lose them in the Fall.
There is a pond near the trail, it was built to provide water for the old anthracite coal operations nearby. There red maples growing around pond were already turning creating a pretty Fall scene, There are beavers living in this pond but I didn’t see any on this hike.
They were chattering as they foraged in the trees, looking for seeds and insects to fuel their long journey to Florida and the Caribbean Islands. I saw hundreds of them in the Florida Keys last January.
I had hoped to see some migratory birds in the mine reclamation area. I saw many species of migrating song birds here in the Spring. I was surprised not to see a single bird on this hike. I walked down to the new bridge that crosses over an active railroad track.
Here and stopped, and reflected, as I always do, on the many generations of immigrants who took this railroad route at the end of their long voyage from their native homes in Europe to work the coal mines in the Hazleton area, my grandparents and great-parents among them.
chattering in trees along the trail. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the wildlife I saw on my hikes. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails wildlife October 2,3 2023.
I finished my hike under the still green oak trees at the end of the trail, knowing, that soon, even the mighty oak will be turning red and yellow, signaling the end of the yearly display of color here in the woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I hope to take a few more hikes on this wonderful trail while the leaves are at their peak. It’s a great place to observe this magical show nature provides us each Fall. . Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my Fall hikes on the Rails to Trails. Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails October 2,3 2023.
I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.