This past weekend I had a meeting with the Keystone Trails Association in Clearfield. I had hoped to do a quick overnight on the Quehanna Trail, but it wasn’t possible. So I decided to camp at Parker Dam State Park and then explore some sights and trails on Sunday.
I’ve been to Parker Dam a few times, but this was my first time camping. I love driving into the park. Towering oak and maple trees line the road, their branches nearly hiding the sky. Beautiful fall colors lingered deep in the woods.
I set up camp. The campground is nice, but seemed to be more popular with RVers. One man walked by and saw my small tent, he said I was “roughing it”. I never thought of car camping as roughing it.
With daylight fading fast, I decided to do a quick hike. I was soon off on the Lakeshore and Souders Trail. The latter is a very enjoyable hike along an easy trail through gorgeous forests of hemlock, pine, oak, and birch. The hemlocks are heathy and were a deep green. At the far end of the loop the trail passed Laurel Run and the remnants of a splash dam. Just further was a huge pine tree; the stream had eroded into its twisted roots.
I hiked back to camp in darkness, passing the parking area for the Quehanna Trail, which was filled with the cars of people backpacking the trail. I was a little jealous.
Showers passed early the next morning; it was relaxing to hear the raindrops.
I got up the next morning and proceeded across the dam to hike the Trail of New Giants. As I began the trail, an army of turkeys scattered into the forest. The forests were beautiful with some massive oak trees. The forest soon changed to one of small trees and many old moss-covered logs on the forest floor. This was where the 1985 tornado, one of the most powerful in state history, swept through the park and consumed the forest. A small view at the top of a hill provided a view of the lake. The trail shows how a forest grows and regenerates.
I left the park and drove to the new Elk Country Visitor Center. It is an impressive building. Unfortunately, there were no elk in the meadows that surround the center. I arrived at the wrong time of day. I drove to some more viewing areas, but the elk were nowhere to be seen.
I continued down PA 555 to my next destination, the Pine Tree Trail Natural Area and Hicks Run Natural Area.