This weekend I visited the Bear Creek Preserve, located about 6.5 miles south of Bear Creek Village, along PA 115. It was a chilly, sunny day as the sun shone between puffy cumulus clouds. I began on a trail marked with red circular placards. The forest is mostly oak with an understory of teaberry or lowbush blueberry. There was even some evidence of forest fires. The trails are all old forest roads. A crust of a few inches of snow covered the ground. My goal was to check out two lookouts marked on the trail map.
Other blazed trails intersected with the red trail, they were blazed yellow or green; there were no trail signs. It was a little hard to determine where I was on the map, since there were no trail signs or names. I hiked between some large rock ledges and through open, snowy forests. I was actually covering more ground than I expected when I reached the western end of the trail system. Here I turned left on a yellow trail which dropped down to a level area above the Francis Walter Reservoir, which you could see through the trees. The reservoir was drawn down, revealing frost-covered meadows through which the blue Lehigh River meandered. In the distance, there was snow being made on Jack Frost Mountain, as clouds of it drifted off. I reached an unblazed trail which I determined led to one of the lookouts. I followed it along exposed ledges, but it didn’t lead to any lookout, just no trespassing signs. The good news was that there was a small creek with some cascades.
I made my way back, following the yellow trail. I decided to hike to the other lookout, but I met the same fate- a no trespassing sign, and no view. I began to loop back and decided to check out the bog, which was frozen with a skin of ice. It was larger than I expected, with lots of open water. I soon returned to my car.
Overall, it was a nice hike, although the trail map could be more accurate. Hikers would be more interested in this preserve if the trails were better marked and signed, and if they offered more diverse scenery, such as more creeks. It looks to be a good trail system for mountain biking, but I do not know if that is allowed. The website says more trails will be added in the future.
For more information about this preserve, go to the Natural Lands Trust website at: http://www.natlands.org/preserves-to-visit/list-of-preserves/bear-creek-preserve/