I returned to the Bartlett Mountain Balds on Friday, eager to see them in clear weather. I couldn’t ask for a nicer day. The sun shone through a brilliant blue sky, as the few morning clouds quickly departed. The wind blew in occasional gusts through the trees and over the mountains.
I made my way up along Whites Brook, keeping to the grade. I ascended fairly quickly and soon found myself at the top of the mountain. I decided to head towards Big Deer Swamp, and then bushwhack north to explore a series of cliffs. The laurel and fir were thick as I came across some small balds. I decided to keep more south as the cliffs and boulder grew larger. I then explored a huge rock overhang that hung in the air. Several small caves were nearby.
Avoiding the mistake from my last trek, I kept north, staying close to the cliff rim. It was a fairly easy hike compared to the prior gauntlet. Ledge after ledge rose along the forest floor as fragrant white pine and teaberry cloaked the forest. Game trails weaved from left to right.
As I continued, the balds began, as cracked white bedrock revealed itself from the undergrowth.
I continued along the escarpment, fighting through some brush and following game trails. I reached the point where we hiked previously. The line of cliffs gradually rose in elevation as spruce and fir became more common. The waxy leaves of teaberry shone in the bright sunlight, concealing their red fruit. As I enjoyed the view from one ledge, I suddenly heard an explosion of activity from a spruce tree 10 feet away- it was a hawk that took flight.
The cliff line was unique, featuring incredible overhangs, crevices, and caves. The white rock contrasted with the green forests and deep blue sky.
To the east were nice views of Firetower Mountain, and even the double peak of Elk Mountain, thirty miles away.
I made may way back, dropping into the forest below. I then took a series of trails through thick hemlocks to some balds on Flat Top, including one I had not seen before. I retraced my steps and returned to the car.
The Bartlett Mountain Balds are one of the most impressive and unique places in all of Pennsylvania. It offers an incredible combination of terrain, scenery, and diversity.
Please visit and treat this special place with respect; a tough hike is the price of admission, but it is well worth it.