The Mountain Laurel Is In Full Bloom , Creating A Magical World In The Woodlands Of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Mountain Laurel Is In Full Bloom , Creating A Magical World In The Woodlands Of Northeastern Pennsylvania

State game Lands 141 (25 of 51)
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Once again we had cloudy skies that threatened rain on Sunday here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  It seems to rain every weekend. But it is mid-June and I knew the mountain laurel would be in bloom. I decided to take a ride to Tank Hollow in Carbon County. Located in State Game Lands 141 I only hiked here once before, last January. It is looked in the mountains above the Lehigh River and thought it would be a good place to see our State flower, the mountain laurel. entrance to State Game Lands

I parked in the lot adjacent to a wide well  maintained stone road that lead into the Gamelands. The woodlands appear to have been  timbered where  I began my hike along the road. road and trail in State Game lands

There were open  fields on both sides of the roads with scattered large trees and many low shrubs and brush. I saw this deer feeding in the brush and was pleased that it didn’t see me when I first approached. deer feeding on trail

However, it soon sensed my presence as evidenced by its raised ears, looked at me and took off into the thicker forest further from the road.  deer along trail

At first I didn’t see any mountain laurel  on my hike. I did see some other wildflowers including the sheep laurel, sheep laurel along trail

and, I believe crowsfoots. crowfoots flowers along trail

There were not many mountain laurel blooming along the gravel road . The few I saw were beautiful but I was hoping to see a lot more than these isolated mountain laurel bushes. 

There were a lot of birds in the trails along the road, including another hungry catbird. I saw one feeding on a dragonfly in the PPl Wetlands on Saturday. This one captured a caterpillar  or grub. catbird with grub

There were also a couple of our year-long residents fluttering among the trees, black-capped chickadee in tree

Chipmunks also scampered in the woods as I walked along the road. This one was watching me walk by from a perch on a tree. chipmunk on tree

About a mile down the road I followed a narrow trail on the left that led to a overlook of the Lehigh River Gorge at Tank Hollow. It was icy and snow-covered when I hiked here in January, mountain laurel on trail

It was a lot different on this hike. I soon walked into groves of mountain laurel in full bloom. At first they were scattered about, creating beautiful white and pink splashes of color in the deep green woodlands. mountain laurel along trail

As I  got deeper into the forest the mountain laurel where everywhere, surrounding the trail in white and pink. mountain laurel on trail

I have seen a lot of mountain laurel but I never seen such a large and beautiful display as this. I took a video of this massive display.  mountain laurel flowers

It was almost magical walking among this beautiful, delicate flowers. mountain laurel

The sound of dozens of oven birds could be heard in the groves of mountain laurel. They seemed to be everywhere. oven bird in tree

I also saw a pair scarlet tanagers playfully fluttering among the oak, pine and maple tree tops. I followed them for 10 minutes trying to get a photograph of these beautiful birds. Their bright red colors would stand out as the flew from tree  to tree. Unfortunately this was the best photograph I could get  before they flew off. scarlet tanager with moth

I walked through the thick laurel groves and came to an outcrop of rock with a magnificent view of the Lehigh River below. A light rain started to fall  as I listened to the roaring of the river fall below. I reflected on the folks who may have stood on these rocks and took in this view before me. It could have included the great naturalist John Audubon  who visited here in 1829. 

After my bit of reflection on the rock outcrop I made my way back up the trail through the mountain laurel to the main road. The road continued on for about a mile ending at a parking area which I assume would be used by hunters during the hunting season. The wide stone road ended here and a narrower grassy trail began. 

It was nice walking  along this narrower trail. I came upon a little pond. It is definitely a place I will hike again. pond along trail  

As I walked closer to the trees he birds continued to sing in the branches above the trail including a few eastern towhees. 

I also saw another bird, a black and white warbler struggling with a very large grub or and white warbler with grub

Unfortunately, the grass that grew on the trail, and gave it its rustic appearance, was also a breeding ground for ticks. I had about a dozen of these nasty critters crawling on me in this grassy area. I hate them. 

It was time to end my hike and start my long walk  back, I saw a few more deer, squirrels, chipmunks and plenty of birds on the walk. 

I heard these little birds, common yellowthroats,   during my entire hike but wasn’t able to see one until I was almost back at the parking lot. 

I didn’t see any bears on my hike but I found what I was looking for, our beautiful State flower, the mountain laurel. I am glad I did, since it only blooms for a few days each year. I highly recommend visiting our mountains   here in Northeastern Pennsylvania to see them.  Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. State Game Land 141 hike June 16 2019. 

Flowers… adorn our lanes, fields and fells, and… smile upon us and cheer and bless us in our country rambles…. the lovely blossoms... kiss the clear brooks and mountain wells… ~James Riggrose breasted grosbeak




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