This past weekend I visited the Roaring Creek Tract, which is a part of the Weiser State Forest. This tract covers about 10,000 acres and was once land owned by a water company. A few years ago it was transfered to the state to become part of the state forest. The reservoirs and dams are still owned by the water company.
I visited this tract a few years ago, but have wanted to return to check out its network of trails. There are over 40 miles of trails that interconnect; there is also a gated road, the Roaring Creek Trail, that bisects the parcel west of PA 42 that is very popular with bicyclists and those who walk. The other highlights are three reservoirs that are almost completely untouched, including McWilliams Reservoir, to which you can only hike.
I began at the large parking area at Klines Reservoir under sunny skies. I began by following the Headwaters Trail on the east side of PA 42. The woods are mostly mature oaks and other hardwoods, although there are places with hemlocks, which appear mostly healthy. The trails are blazed red and most trail junctures have signs. I passed the Old Reservoir and Corduroy Trails to the right, and both looked beautiful with thick hemlock and pine forests. I followed the Headwaters Trail and passed a large spring that could be a nice campsite location. I reached the eastern boundary of the tract and headed south. Here, the map did not seem accurate. The sign posts indicated the Headwaters Trail went to the top of the ridge along the eastern boundary, but the map says the Homestead Trail follows this route. Further, there are several other trails not on the map.
I climbed the ridge and passed the Big Mountain Trail; I pushed further to the top and reached the Ponds Trail, where I turned right. This is a trail not to be missed. It is often covered with moss, and goes through a forest of white birch, pine, and laurel. The highlight are two small ponds. The first I reached was crystal clear and deep; camping was possible here. The second was smaller, but also very nice.
The Pond Trail passed other trail junctures through a pine forest. I crossed a small stream and reached a juncture that was the end of the Headwaters Trail. I turned left onto the Dark Woods Trail. It was also a very nice trail with hemlocks, pine, and laurel. There was also a huge vernal pool. I soon reached the second parking are along PA 42.
I crossed the road and entered a pine plantation. I then followed the trail into an area that was cleacut, the only not-so-scenic part of the hike. I should’ve followed the gravel road off to my left instead of the trail. As I was hiking, I heard something in the brush, maybe 15 feet away. I thought it was a squirrel. I looked over to see a big 8 point buck. I was startled and fumbled for my camera. The buck soon caught my scent and bolted, but I was able to get a picture of it. I followed the gravel road to the Pump House Trail and followed that down the ridge back towards Klines Reservoir. Along the way were some ruins. I reached the Roaring Creek Trail at the dam for the reservoir and followed the trail towards McWilliams Reservoir.
I soon reached McWilliams under overcast skies. This is a large and scenic reservoir. I crossed a bridge at its inlet and followed a trail along the shore with spruce and some rhododendrons; this section did not have any blazes. I eventually turned around and turned left onto the South Branch Trail, which joins near the bridge over the inlet. This trail had infrequent red blazes and was not that well established; tape tied to trees helped guide the way. But the trail soon reached a footbridge over Roaring Creek in a beautiful hemlock forest. This would be a nice place for camping. I soon reached Roaring Creek Trail again and walked back to my car.
Roaring Creek Tract offers many trails and countless options. I want to hike more of the trails west of PA 42. Overall, the scenery is good and most of the forests are attractive. It could be a good venue for backpacking, but I did not see any established campsites. The reservoirs are very scenic, as is Roaring Creek, and the ponds. It is definitely a place worth visiting.
The tract is about 20 minutes south of Bloomsburg, on PA 42.
For more pictures, click on: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/581820124ZokPVT?vhost=outdoors
For a map and brochure of the Roaring Creek Tract, click on: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/ucmprd2/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_006987.pdf