Nestled in the far north of Susquehanna County not far from the New York line, Salt Springs State Park feels like one of the more remote state parks in Pennsylvania. It is well known for its deep gorge with three waterfalls, old growth hemlock trees and the salt spring which gives the park its name. It is unusual among state parks in that it is managed by the Friends of Salt Springs State Park, a volunteer organization. The Friends also own and operate an adjacent tract of land. Prior to becoming a park, Salt Springs was the homestead of the Wheaton family. The park offers hiking, camping, picnicking, and educational programming.
I visited on a rainy day which cut short some of my planned activities. I had intended to find the salt spring which is near the main homestead. From looking at photos and video on the internet, this spring is gurgle bubbling up through a pipe in a small hole in the ground. It does not seem like a main feature of the park which bears its name.
The park is lovely, especially along Salt Springs Road.
Prompton State Park and the Varden Conservation Area are located near each other in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wayne County. Prompton State Park provides boat launching and picnicking facilities for the 290-acre Prompton Lake, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There are twenty-six miles of hiking trails which surround the lake and a disc golf course.
A gift from veterinarian Dr. Mead Shaffer, the 444-acre Varden Conservation Area is in an area that was once a remote section of the state, but which is now beginning to feel pressure from development. The land is conserved as open space with opportunities for low impact recreation and educational use. It is a great place to learn about Pennsylvania’s natural history. There is picnicking by and fishing in the pond. There is also hiking in the two tracts which constitute this conservation area. I visited the Tannery Road Tract.
I made my third trip to Promised Land State Park this past Memorial Day weekend. I love the Bear Wallow Cabin area, a cluster of former CCC cabins that still are largely original construction with hand made wood furniture. I also like the proximity of the Wildlife Observation Station to these cabins. The weather was unseasonably cold and raining so most of time was spent travelling around to other nearby sights to get a feel for those places. In this post, I will focus on some of the logistics of the park.
Promised Land contains two lakes with multiple boat launches, a beach with concession, boat rental, hiking and horseback riding. There are opportunities for hunting and fishing in season. The park is mostly surrounded by the Delaware State Forest. It is unusual in that most of the town of Promised Land is within the boundaries of the park and privately owned cabins are tucked away around the lakes.
The cabins have an oven, fridge, microwave, coffee maker and electrical outlets. Heat is by wood stove and there is no running water. The bathrooms are modern with toilet, shower, and sink and are heated. The park has multiple campgrounds and a variety of different camping options as well.
Archbald Pothole State Park is a small park located in Lackawanna County just north of a busy shopping strip on Business Route 6. The pothole is the remains of the Wisconsin Glacial Period. It is 38 feet (11.6 m) deep with a largest diameter of 42 feet (12.8 m) by 24 feet (7.3 m). It has been a tourist attraction since it was discovered in 1884.
Archbald Pothole cuts through layers of sandstone, shale and coal. A pothole, in geologic terms, is a hole that is worn into the bedrock of a stream in strong rapids or at the base of a waterfall. The force of the water spins rock fragments, sand and gravel into a small indentation in the bedrock. After years and years of constant spinning, the stones and sands carve out an elliptical hole. Potholes are also formed by the action of glacial meltwater. Archbald Pothole was formed during the Wisconsin Glacial Period. As the glacier melted, a stream that flowed on top may have fallen into a crevasse and then fell to the bedrock. The force of the falling water created a pothole in much the same way that a waterfall creates a pothole. The pothole was filled by falling sand, rocks and gravel as the glacier retreated and created other potholes. Archbald Pothole was preserved underground for nearly 13,000 years until its discovery by Patrick Mahon in 1884 while extending a mine shaft.
The park also has opportunities for hiking and hunting as well as some picnic tables.
Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon and Lancaster Counties is great spot for bird watching or just enjoying a great day out. On my recent trip, I saw nearly 30 species of birds. I also passed dozens of horse drawn buggies on the way there and back. In one parking lot, I came across the following interesting sight:
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.
Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge over Mill Creek in Lancaster County Central Park. The bridge is also known as the County Park Covered Bridge, Baer’s Mill Covered Bridge, Isaac Baer’s Mill Bridge, Keystone Mill Covered Bridge, Binder Tongue Carrier Covered Bridge, and Mill 2A Covered Bridge (that’s a lot of names). The bridge is used by road traffic from within the park to access a picnic pavilion.
The bridge has a single span, wooden, double burr arch trusses design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks. It is painted red, the traditional color of Lancaster County covered bridges, on both the inside and outside. Both approaches to the bridge are painted in red with white trim. It has a 94 foot span.
The bridge was built in 1876 by W. W. Upp over the Conestoga River. In 1972, it was damaged by the floodwaters caused by Hurricane Agnes. It was repaired by David Esh in 1975 and moved to its present location in the Lancaster County Park over Mill Creek, a tributary of the Conestoga River. Unlike most historic covered bridges in the county, it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A trip to the Octoraro Lake area for some birding did not produce what I had hoped for on the bird front. I saw some ducks and great blue herons and managed to take some of the worst bird photos I have ever attempted. I did better with photos of the surrounding countryside.
Finally, a shot from northwestern Chester Country, because I like it and don’t have another post to put it in.