Alan Seeger and Bear Meadows Natural Areas

 

Rhododendron tunnels- Alan Seeger Natural Area

Rhododendron tunnels- Alan Seeger Natural Area

A few weeks ago I was in State College for a conference.  After I was done for the day, I decided to take a ride to see some sights in the beautiful Rothrock State Forest.

My first stop was the Alan Seeger Natural Area.  This natural area was named after Alan Seeger, a poet who was killed in World War I.  Naming the natural area after him is somewhat of a mystery as he had no known connection to the area.

With its old growth forests, massive pine and hemlocks, rhododendron tunnels and shaded streams, this natural area is incredibly beautiful.  The trail is a loop and very easy; children would love this hike.  The Great Eastern Trail passes through the natural area on its way from Alabama to New York.

On my hike, the sun was setting after a day of rain.  Sunlight streamed through the wet forest that smelled rich with a scent of mulch.  Every space, every foothold was enveloped with something living, growing.  Footbridges crossed meandering Standing Stone Creek, which was almost completely hidden by rhododendron jungles.

I had the place to myself until I passed an older man hiking in the opposite direction.  He said hello quietly, as if he were in a church.  Forests like these are so beautiful and rare, they hold the spirituality and serenity of a place of worship.

After the short hike, I drove to Penn Roosevelt State Park and then Bear Meadows Natural Area.  Darkness was quickly descending as massive, billowing storm clouds rose beyond the horizon.  The cacophony from the spring peepers was utterly deafening as their unrelenting peeps echoed and bounced between my ears.

As I was about to leave, I encountered a young couple with a small dog.  He had tattoos and she looked bohemian.  They looked over the meadows, teeming with life, and the forested ridges that surround the meadows, masked in darkness.  A slate gray evening sky was quickly being drained of light.

“This”, the young man said, “is what I love about Pennsylvania.”

My car at Bear Meadows

My car at Bear Meadows

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Hike to Coyote Rocks

Coyote Rocks

Coyote Rocks

We’ve been having incredible weather for the past week or so, with deep blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and cool nights.  I had some time to get out for a hike, so we decided to go to Coyote Rocks.

The rocks is an outcropping in SGL 57, offering a wonderful view of Bowmans Creek’s narrow valley.  The view faces west and looks into Ricketts Glen State Park.  What makes it so unique is that the vista overlooks an area that appears untouched, with no development.  It conveys a sense of isolation and serenity.

We began from the Beth Run parking area and hiked to the vista from the east.  Beth Run is a beautiful spot as it cascades into Bowmans Creek from a hemlock-shaded grotto with swimming holes.  The hike up followed a well-defined trail, but it is unblazed.  We reached the top along an old grade.  The forests were hardwoods with ledges and outcrops; violets dotted the forest floor.  We also came across an odd looking skeleton on the trail; it appeared to be a beaver.  A strange location since we were a ways from the creek.

Skeleton

Skeleton

The trail climbed over ledges to a small bald along a cliff.  The cliff offered some nice views.  We took a quick break and were soon off to Coyote Rocks.  The trail to the rocks was easy as it wound through a beautiful forest awash in sunlight.  Startled deer ran through the woods.  The trees were just beginning to bloom as gems of fresh leaves hung from bare twigs, tightly wrapped in luminous green.  The trail reached the cliff line with several views.  There was even a brilliant serviceberry tree in full bloom, its white petals glowed against the blue sky.  Several such trees were in bloom along the hike.

We reached the vista and enjoyed the beautiful views.  Below the view is a large, angular boulder.  On the other side, there appears to be a cave.  With such a western and southern exposure, the sun wreaks havoc on any photos.  The best time to take pictures may be in the morning, as the sun shines up the forested valley.

A soft breeze swept across the cliff as the lime-green forest below began to reveal itself with hints of color across bare trees.  We enjoyed the view for several minutes as the sounds of nature replaced the sounds of man.  Coyote Rocks is just one of many special places in this last great wilderness of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Coyote Rocks panorama

Coyote Rocks panorama

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