Say Hay to Hills Creek

The 407-acre Hills Creek State Park, located in scenic Tioga County, contains abundant wildlife such as osprey, loon, and waterfowl which visit the lake that contains a variety of warmwater fish species. Camping, cabins, swimming, and picnicking make this an ideal spot for a day trip or family vacation. Hiking, fishing and hunting are also available.

It was a hazy day at the lake.
I love the yurts in Pennsylvania state parks.
People were camping in everything from large RVs to tents.
Because you know I can’t resist hay bales.
There was quite an impressive group in this field near the park.
The view from above.
They’re still there. Can you see them?

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 Two-fer in South Central Pennsylvania

If you head west on Route 30 past Gettysburg, you will come across two state parks. The larger of the two is Caledonia State Park. The 1,125-acre park is in Adams and Franklin counties, between Chambersburg and Gettysburg along the Lincoln Highway (US 30). It is situated within South Mountain, the northern terminus of the well-known Blue Ridge Mountain of Maryland and Virginia. The soils on either side of South Mountain are ideal for fruit production, proven by the abundance of orchards in the surrounding area.

Some unique features at Caledonia are a golf course and the Totem Pole Playhouse. It also provides hiking, camping, and hunting and hosts the Pennsylvania Forest Heritage and Discovery Center.

Forest Heritage and Discovery Center
A spartan camp setup,
Let’s enjoy some fall color …
… in the nearby Michaux State Forest as well.

Nearby Mont Alto State Park is a quiet, 24-acre park which features a pavilion, picnicking, and trout fishing. Mont Alto is the oldest park still in the Pennsylvania state park system.

Return to the Promised Land

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.

Cabin number 2, named Buchanan. The cabins come in varying sizes, This is a smaller one.
The bathrooms for Cabin 1 and 2. Each cabin has its own bathroom which is unusual in a state park.

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.

The interior looking toward the bedroom.
An old drop down desk.
A bench near the Bear Wallow boat launch on the Lower Lake.
The statue in front of the Masker Museum, which focuses on the CCC.

A Study in Contrasts

Greenwood Furnace and Penn-Roosevelt State Park may be close to one another, but they are very different in history and atmosphere. First up is Greenwood Furnace, which is one of those state parks with a lot of different activities available. It is in Huntingdon, PA.

In its 423 acres, the park offers a lake with swimming, small craft boating, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, as well as a chance to view some local history. The park also provides access to the 80,000 acre Rothrock State Forest. However, a trip to the park begins with its historic district, which contains a blacksmith shop and the remains of an iron furnace. The community that existed on the site from 1834 to 1904 was a 19th century ironmaking complex.

The village blacksmith shop.
An old iron furnace.
The dam at the lake at Greenwood Furnace.
Care for a dip?

Penn-Roosevelt is a 41-acre park is in an isolated area of the Seven Mountains region known as the Stone Creek Kettle. While the park is small in size, it is surrounded by a large block of Rothrock State Forest in Centre County.

Penn-Roosevelt is a good base for those seeking off the beaten track, low-density recreation in the State Forest. Activities include hiking on the Mid-State or other trails, gravel-riding on over 100 miles of Forestry roads, and mountain biking the nearby Cooper’s Gap area. There is also picnicking available. The small campground is rustic (tent camping only with latrines). However, one really does have the sense of being deep in the woods here. There is fishing in the streams in the park and access to hunting in the State Forest.

One of the most notable aspects of Penn-Roosevelt State Park is that it was constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-62, which was built in Stone Creek Kettle. This was, unfortunately per CCC policy, a segregated camp. The members of the camp were all African-American and it was one of only 12 such CCC camps in Pennsylvania. The members of Camp S-62 constructed many of the facilities in use today at Penn-Roosevelt State Park. They constructed a log-crib dam that has since received a stone facing. They also built many of the roads and trails in the surrounding Rothrock State Forest. Remnants of the camp, including two stone fireplaces and a stone bake oven, can be seen today in the woods of Penn-Roosevelt State Park.

Remains of the CCC and a picnic area.

Not Covered Bridges

Today we have a temporary break from covered bridges. On my trips to photograph these bridges, I come upon other interesting stuff. In fact, one of my all-time-favorite shots, was a picture I took after turning 180 degrees around from a covered bridge. The idly curious can check out the first shot on this post. Here are some views from around Columbia County:

Nice view of a campground across a lake. Near Esther Furnace Covered Bridge.
I really like the hand-made star and red and white paint on these buildings.
This really lovely barn is near Benton.

I also made my way over to Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County that same weekend.

Labor Day action at Frances Slocum.
A peaceful fishing spot on the lake.

Knee High by the Fourth of July: Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

I had promised my cousin that we would take a camping trip to Codorus State Park in Hanover, Pennsylvania over the July Fourth holiday. I decided to stick with the plans despite a weather forecast calling for high heat and humidity with the added bonus of regular thunderstorms popping up. I went back and forth between calling this post “The Camping Trip from Hell” and “Silver Linings.” Ultimately, I couldn’t decide if it was good or bad.

I’m more of a fair weather camping kind of girl, I don’t mind a little rain, as long as I can set up when it ‘s not raining and everything has a chance to dry before I pack up. I was frustrated because all my trips last year were affected by rain, despite being out only 1-2 nights each time. I didn’t get my wish for fair weather on this trip. Everything was wet and/or dirty prior to departure. Pennsylvania is getting record rain, and it kind of stinks. At least the corn is high.

The park itself did not disappoint. I went primarily to see if I could get a glimpse of the newly fledged bald eagles that hatched in an oak tree above Lake Marburg this Spring. They are quite the web cam stars. I did not see the fledglings, but I did get my first look at the parents in flight, having only previously seen them in the nest or resting in a nearby tree. The weather prevented much else in the way of activity.

Nonetheless, it was not a complete loss. On the way to Hanover, I stopped briefly at Samuel S. Lewis State Park. It looks like a great place for a picnic and has a nice scenic view of the Susquehanna valley. The website also recommends kite flying and sledding, and it seems really well suited for those activities.

The flag was still trying to fly proudly on the 4th despite the hot and damp weather.
Here’s the view toward the river.

I arrived at Codorus and immediately started to set up camp.

Here is a look at lovely Lake Marburg,

From the band shell area.

On the way home, via Lake Redman, I made a few stops. The first was to photograph this hay field that was harvested just the day before.

Newly harvested hay.

I also took a few pictures of some of the lovely farms of southern York County.

Farm, Yoirk County
Red Barn, York County