A Drive Up Route 44, Part I

My trip on this Juneteenth weekend began in earnest when I turned left from Route 15 onto Route 44 in Lycoming County. I was soon at my first stop of the day.

Upper Pine Bottom State Park is one of the smallest parks in the state park system, measuring in at 5 acres. It provides picnic tables next to a stream and access to hunting and fishing. It also acts as an entry point for hiking and cross country skiing in the nearby Tiadaghton State Forest.

Yes, we are here.
A nice place for a picnic, with a stream beyond.

My next stop was Ole Bull State Park which lies off Route 44 and a short distance down Route 144. Ole Bull State Park consists of 132 acres along the Kettle Creek Valley in Potter County in an area called the Black Forest because of its dense tree cover, mountainous terrain, and wilderness habitat. The park has a fascinating history. It is named for Ole Bornemann Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist who toured the United States in the 1850s. In 1852, Ole Bull purchased a large tract of land in Potter County and attempted to develop a series of Norwegian settlements. He began construction of a home, at what now is called Ole Bull Vista, which has never finished. After a year of severe hardships, the majority of the colony disbanded and moved west into Michigan and Wisconsin.

The park has swimming in Kettle Creek, a campground, and the usual array of state park activities.

The swimming area in Kettle Creek. I bet this was cold.
A monument to Ole Bull, provided by the citizens of Norway, in 2002.
A bridge over Kettle Creek to the campground.
Further up Route 44 is Water Tank Vista.

Lyman Run State Park was next on the list. One of several parks in this area with a dam, it has a 45 acre lake, swimming, camping, boating and other activities.

Another “refreshing” dip.
A view of the dam.
Nice bridge to picnic area.

A daytime visit to Cherry Springs State Park followed. This park is well known for being one of the best spots on the east coast for dark nighttime skies and astronomical viewing. The park has a public astronomy field for short term viewing and an overnight field. There is also a campground and opportunities for hiking.

A stargazing dome at the park.
A picnic area.
A sunset view at Cherry Springs State Park.

This park is beloved, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I returned the following night. The weather was fairly clear with low humidity, and the moon was below the horizon. However, I didn’t feel that the number of visible stars was significantly better than what I could see an hour from home in southeastern Pennsylvania. I didn’t attempt to photograph any. I have seen much better displays of stars during my adulthood in the Florida Keys and on the eastern shore of Maryland.

Near the park is Cherry Springs Vista, which sits directly on Route 44.

Cherry Springs Vista – this is one of my favorite types of views, all trees as far as the eye can see.

A Little Piece of Paradise

I made two recent trips to Dixon Meadow Preserve in Montgomery County to see a sora (seen) and a yellow crowned night heron (not seen), This Preserve provides some great bird habitat in the suburbs, especially in connection with the adjacent Erdenheim Farm. With its 14 acres rand boardwalk measuring nearly two-thirds of a mile, the Preserve is a haven for birders, walkers and those who simply enjoy the area’s natural beauty

Purchased by the McCausland family in 2009, Erdenheim farm is home to prize winning Cheviot Sheep, Black Angus cattle, and elegant Morgan Horses. Situated on close to 450 acres, Erdenheim Farm remains one of the last sanctuaries of pastoral life within the greater Philadelphia area.

A view of Dixon Meadow Preserve,
A stream wanders through the Preserve and under the boardwalk.
Redbud in bloom.
Erdenheim Farm Black Angus at twilight.

A Little Bit of Lake Jean

i spent this past Labor Day at Ricketts Glen State Park. I avoided the crowds on the Falls Trail and spent the days photographing covered bridges and other nearby areas. The cottages on Lake Jean are some of my favorites in the state park system.

The front of the cottage faces the lake.
Sunset on Lake Jean. This view is facing east, so there is better view …
at sunrise. Seriously, I am never up this early.
Expressing how many feel, at a nearby location on Route 118.

The park was open, with some restrictions on check in times and requirements for mask usage in bath houses and park office buildings. Some facilities, such as the boat rental, were closed. Most things seemed to be operating normally.

I did see some interesting birds just sitting outside the cottage. A bald eagle, Canada warbler, a possible vireo, great blue heron, as well as a number of more common species such as chickadee, white breasted nuthatch, robin, chipping sparrow, catbird, and mallard.

As an added bonus, below are a few shots of holiday activity at Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County.

The lakeside is a popular area.
He had this fishing pier all to himself.

One of the Best Views of the Susquehanna River

Susquehannock State Park lies on the east bank of the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County. The overlook at the park provides one of the best views of the river in southern Pennsylvania.

I visited the park near sunset, after stopping for dinner in Quarryville.

The wide open southern view from the park.
Somehow, I found the northern view more interesting.
A glimpse of sunset. The western facing overlook is a great sunset spot.
The James B. Long home from 1850

The Long home, pictured above, has an interesting history, which you can read about here.

The Historic Pawling Farm

The Pawling Farm is part of Valley Forge National Historical Park and sits on the Perkiomen Peninsula, which is created by a bend in the Schuylkill River near its confluence with the Perkiomen Creek. This area played a critical role in the winter encampment of George Washington’s troops in 1777-78. It was a strategically important avenue of approach from the north to the encampment on the south side of the river and also served as the site of a commissary function that saved the troops from starvation. The National Park Service brochure on the area can be found here.

Currently the property’s main buildings include an old barn, a small home (which currently appears to be in use), a privy building, and the remains of the old mansion. The mansion was lost to fire in 1967 and is now a ruin. There are hiking trails which connect to the rest of the Valley Forge system and a mix of habitats including meadow, forest, wetlands, and vernal ponds.

The old barn is an impressive structure.
A view of the house and barn. You can see here that the barn is a bank barn like the one in Sugartown in my previous post.
The house that remains on the property, apparently the only building still in use.
The area immediately around the buildings is meadow which is cut for hay.
More hay bales, just because I like hay bales.
According to my research, this building was used as a privy.
The privy with the remains of another building behind it.

Here are some overview shots and other views of the farm.

Fall Has Finally Arrived

It looks like the much delayed Autumn color has finally arrived to Chester County this year. I just hope the season isn’t brief. Here is a sample of some of this year’s color.

A corn field seems to be on fire in Glenmoore.

 

It looks like this is what was growing on those stumps in the previous picture. This and another tree were next in line with the stumps but had not yet been cut.

 

A beautiful farm in Coventryville. I always love the star on the barn.

 

Another radiant fall cornfield and treetops.

 

Scotts Run in French Creek State Park. It’s apparently a red and orange free zone.

 

The barn at the Mansion at Hibernia Park.

Entering the Promised Land

I spent the Labor Day weekend at Promised Land State Park in Pike County. I stayed in the CCC constructed Bear  Wallow Cabin area. This is one of my favorite areas of the park, being close to the Wildlife Observation Station. The cabins also have a lot of rustic charm. The park is also a great jumping off point for side trips to Lake Wallenpaupack and other areas of the Poconos.

The lake in that ares offers some great sunset views.

 

 

 

 

The historic village of Promised Land, surrounded by the park, and nearby area have a unique character that draws visitors from three states. The large number of  privately leased cabins in the park also seem unique among Pennsylvania state parks.

 

 

 

 

 

White baneberry, or Doll’s Eyes, is a distinctive and beautiful, if not slightly creepy looking,  plant. This was growing around my cabin.

 

Sunset Drive Through East Nantmeal Township

I took advantage of a lovely evening to head out to East Nantmeal township hoping for some sunset views.

A beautiful farm at sunset.

Another view of the same farm.

A farm pond at sunset.

A farm on the hill in gathering darkness.

I came back the next day for some daytime views. The hay has already been baled at this farm.

A farm pond in the daylight.

It seems Christmas trees are grown all over Pennsylvania, even in Chester County.