Whenever I look for a place to go for a quick hike, I often find myself at Lackawanna State Park. It doesn’t disappoint. The park features a beautiful lake and miles of trails that create an extensive system that has grown considerably over the last few years. Although the park doesn’t feature expansive vistas or waterfalls, it does offer a surprising diversity of scenery with deep ravines, hemlock forests, meadows, streams, pine plantations, and old stone walls.
My favorite trail in the park is the North Woods Trail, probably named because it has the feel of a northern forest. We recently hiked this trail in conjunction with the Orchard Trail, creating an enjoyable loop. A similar hike can be found as Hike No. 7 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.
We began at the boat launch parking area and enjoyed views across the frozen lake. Swirls of snow and contours of ice glistened on the frozen surface. Along the shore, the ice was melting, yet we saw people ice fishing in the middle of the lake. One ice fisherman looked at the melting ice on the shore and was confused how to get on the ice. He asked us if we knew how the others got on. We didn’t.
We descended to the South Branch Tunkhannock Creek and followed the North Woods Trail. This is a wonderful trail that explores a deep hemlock forest along a small stream. The hemlocks appear to be fairly healthy. The trail meandered gradually up hill and we passed a few other hikers. The forest also had yellow birch and maple. The highlights were two giant, old growth beech trees. They were among the largest I have seen. They towered through the forest, their branches spread far above the canopy. One of them had fungus growing on its bark, but it still appeared to be alive.
The trail left the hemlocks, crossed two roads and descended to Trostle Pond, a new addition to the park thanks to the Countryside Conservancy. Our hike re-entered a hemlock forest and crossed scenic Whites Creek. We continued along the Orchard Trail with many views across the lake before returning to the parking area.