Mount Davis (3,213 ft or 979 m) is the highest point in Pennsylvania. Located in the 5,685-acre (2,301 ha) Forbes State Forest near the hamlet of Markleton in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, it lies on a gentle crest of a 30-mile (50 km) ridge line extending from central Somerset County southward into Garrett County, Maryland. The high point was named for John Nelson Davis, an early settler, American Civil War veteran, surveyor, and naturalist known for his studies of the mountain’s flora and fauna. During the Civil War, Davis served in Company E, 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.
The summit of Mt. Davis may be ascended by car or a number of hiking trails. Its surroundings are noted for their patterns of unusual circular stone formed by periglacial action. A metal observation tower with a relief map of the region stands near the true high point.
I found this location surprising. It was not what I was picturing in my mind for many years. The area immediately surrounding the summit is state forest, however you can be a five minute drive from the summit and still be going through farmland, which doesn’t make the peak seem that prominent or that high. I guess the surrounding area is at a pretty high elevation.
Bradford County is home to a unique historical site in north central Pennsylvania. However, I first made my way west over Route 6 to take in some impressive views.
First up is Wyalusing Rocks Overlook, which stands above one of the many bends in the Susquehanna River in this area.
A little further west, one comes upon the Marie Antoinette Overlook. The reason for this name will become apparent in my next post. The Overlook sits approximately 500 feet above the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. It was originally built in 1930 as a part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration).
I left Austin and proceeded south to Sizerville State Park. This park reminds me of Hyner Run or Reeds Gap. It is a quiet park with a small campground and a pool. Alas, the pool at Reeds Gap is gone, but this type of park remains one of my favorites. The 368 acre Sizerville is surrounded by Elk State Forest and near large blocks of additional state forest land. If it wasn’t so far, I’d like to come back here.
I then made the long journey to Kettle Creek State Park. In retrospect, I should have done this the day before as continuation of my trip to Ole Bull, but now I know better. The park consists of 1,793 acres along Kettle Creek in western Clinton County. The park is in a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain and wilderness. Many of the existing recreational facilities arose from a joint flood control project developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. The park offers camping, boating, hunting, fishing, hiking, and other activities.
I thought I might be able to save some time getting to Sinnemahoning State Park by driving up to Kettle Creek Vista then cutting across the ridge and down the other side. Of course there were no roads down into the other valley, because there was another lake, with (you guessed it) another dam.
I made the trek back down the valley to highway north to Sinnemahoning State Park. The park, located near the center of the Pennsylvania Wilds’ scenic steep valleys region, encompasses 1,910 acres of beautiful scenery and outstanding wildlife habitat. Situated in Cameron and Potter counties, the park is nestled between the green-shouldered ridges of Pennsylvania’s Elk State Forest and Susquehannock State Forest. The park is long and narrow and includes lands on both sides of First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek — a major tributary to the Sinnemahoning Creek. At the southern end of the park, a 145-acre reservoir created by the George B. Stevenson dam provides fishing and boating opportunities. There is a campground and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, including elk, bear, and large variety of birds.
The drive north on Route 44 continues with a visit to Patterson State Park. This park sits directly on Route 44 and provides picnicking and a few camping sites. The Susquehanock Trail System passes right near the park, which acts as a trailhead. The park would also be a good overnight camp spot for those doing the entire loop.
Next up was one of the most confounding parks in the entire system – Prouty Place State Park. The five-acre Prouty Place State Park is five miles southwest of PA 44 along Long Toe Road. This remote park offers access to hunting, fishing, and hiking within the surrounding Susquehannock State Forest. There is a grassy area and gazebo with a nonoperational water pump and a notice board. The park feels very remote, yet only a short distance down Long Toe Road were a few very substantial houses a large man-made pond.
Prouty Place was designated a Class “B” campground by the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry from 1922 to 1925. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a picnic area and campsites between 1935 and 1938. Prouty Place State Park officially became part of the Pennsylvania State Parks system in 1957. The park is a short distance from the Susquehannock Trail System, and is connected to it by a link trail. Prouty Place is tied for second smallest state park in Pennsylvania with Upper Pine Bottom State Park (which we visited in our last installment). Only Sand Bridge State Park (another picnic area) is smaller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Big Mountain Overlook, a short distance from the historic Lincoln Highway (US Route 30), is on the border of Franklin and Fulton Counties in Buchanan State Forest. On the ridge of Tuscarora Mountain near its summit, there are breathtaking views of the surrounding ridges to the east, and western views as you head up to the overlook. The overlook is at an elevation of 2458 feet. The lowest points in Path Valley are around 700 feet in elevation, giving views of roughly 1700 feet down into the valley, making this one of the biggest, if not the biggest, elevation differences between a summit overlook and the valley below within the state. On clear days, you can see about 100 miles out to Maryland, West Virginia, and Northern Virginia since this is gives a view beyond the end of the next ridges. The 252 mile long Tuscarora Trail, a spur route off of the Appalachian Trail, goes along the ridge.
I believe the outcropping provides a better view, but I had difficulty finding it when I visited, as it is not well marked.
On my travels, I came across some interesting barns in the nearby valleys. The first, and another like it not pictured here, is a brick construction with some beautiful detailing. I don’t remember coming barns like this in other parts of the state that I have visited.
The 3,520-acre Swatara State Park consists of rolling fields and woodlands situated in the Swatara Valley, between Second and Blue mountains. Swatara Creek runs through the park and is surrounded by forests and wetlands that support an abundance of wildlife. The park is also a hotbed for fossil hunters.
In the past this landscape was dominated by a feeder branch of the Union Canal and then a railroad. Today, Swatara Park features a rail trail, hiking (including a few miles of the Appalachian Trail), fishing, hunting, cycling, horseback riding and kayaking.
Nearby Memorial Lake State Park consists of 230 acres at the the base of Blue Mountain in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County. The park is surrounded by Fort Indiantown Gap, the headquarters for the Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guard. The park is dominated by its lovely lake. It is a great spot for a picnic or some boating and fishing. There are also hiking trails at the park and and an exercise course.
Fort Indiantown Gap was named after the American Indian village known as Indiantown and the gap in the Blue Mountain where Indiantown was located. Indian artifacts found in the Lebanon and Swatara Valleys indicate a human presence as early as 2,500 BC.
Established in 1931, Fort Indiantown Gap was built as a National Guard training center. During World War II, it was used as a training site for seven Army divisions, and also as a demobilization site once the war was over. Memorial Lake was established in 1945 in memory of Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers who served in World War I and World War II. In 1955, Memorial Lake was transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and became Memorial Lake State Park.
Here are some late leaf season shots of Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County. I’ve been holding off on the Christmas posts as long as I can just as I was trying hold onto Autumn on this day in late October.
Blue Marsh National Recreation Area contains an artificial lake located northwest of Reading, Pennsylvania. It was constructed and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is fed by the Tulpehocken Creek. Blue Marsh was the name of the village that was located where the lake now is. It was the first settlement in Lower Heidelberg Township. The United States Army Corps of Engineers began constructing the lake in March 1974 with the impoundment of the Tulpehocken Creek and was completed in September 1979. The lake is now a popular spot for recreation, including swimming, boating, fishing, wildlife watching and picnicing.
My trip to central Pennsylvania this past October came to and end, and I made my way back home slowly that Sunday. Blessed with some nice weather, it was a great drive.
My first stop was the Logan Mills Covered Bridge and surrounding village. This bridge is located in Loganton, PA in Clinton County. The bridge is a 55-foot-long 12-foot-wide, Queen post truss bridge. It was constructed in 1874 and crosses Fishing Creek. It is the only remaining covered bridge in Clinton County. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
My next stop was an overlook on Jones Mountain Road in Union County in Bald Eagle State forest. This was a spectacular vista, with nothing visible but trees and mountains all the way to the horizon.
A made a quick drive through Raymond B. Winter State Park and came across this enchanting scene:
Bald Eagle State Park in Howard, PA is a 5,000 park that features a large reservoir for boating, fishing, and swimming, two campgrounds, hiking, hunting, and other activities. It is also the home of the Nature Inn, a unique hotel within the Pennsylvania state park system. The Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, was formed by damming Bald Eagle Creek and other smaller streams. Bald Eagle State Park is at the meeting point of two distinct geologic features. The Allegheny Plateau is to the north and the Ridge and Valley area of Pennsylvania is to the south.
The park is named for the Lenape chief, Woapalanne, meaning bald eagle. Chief Woapalanne lived in the area for a brief period of time during the mid-18th century in a village that was on Bald Eagle Creek Path, part of the much more extensive Great Indian Warpath that stretched from New York into the Carolinas. This path was used by the Iroquois to conduct raids on the Cherokee in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Pennsylvania Route 150 follows this path in some areas near Bald Eagle State Park.
Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir is a 1,730-acre (700 ha) reservoir that was built in 1971 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a flood control project on the Susquehanna River basin. It stretches upstream for 8 miles (12.87 km) and has 23 miles (37.01 km) of shoreline.
The lake is named for Foster Joseph Sayers, a World War II hero. Sayers grew up in Marsh Creek. He received the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery on November 12, 1944 near Thionville, France. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
CITATION: Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company L, 357th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Thionville, France, 12 November 1944. Entered service at: Howard, Pa. Birth: Marsh Creek, Pa. G.O. No.: 89, 19 October 1945. He displayed conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in combat on 12 November 1944, near Thionville, France. During an attack on strong hostile forces entrenched on a hill he fearlessly ran up the steep approach toward his objective and set up his machinegun 20 yards from the enemy. Realizing it would be necessary to attract full attention of the dug-in Germans while his company crossed an open area and flanked the enemy, he picked up his gun, charged through withering machinegun and rifle fire to the very edge of the emplacement, and there killed 12 German soldiers with devastating close-range fire. He took up a position behind a log and engaged the hostile infantry from the flank in an heroic attempt to distract their attention while his comrades attained their objective at the crest of the hill. He was killed by the very heavy concentration of return fire; but his fearless assault enabled his company to sweep the hill with minimum of casualties, killing or capturing every enemy soldier on it. Pfc. Sayers’ indomitable fighting spirit, aggressiveness, and supreme devotion to duty live on as an example of the highest traditions of the military service.
This beautiful park is well worth visiting and the lake is a fitting tribute to an American hero.