Over the past several years, the Pinchot State Forest (formerly called the Lackawanna State Forest) has grown dramatically to almost 50,000 acres in size. The Pinchot Trail explores the state forest. When the trail was laid out in the 1970s, it basically followed the state forest boundary at the time. There has been some discussion to relocate parts of the Pinchot Trail to take advantage of the fine scenery on this new state forest land. One potential re-route is to follow Choke Creek from Butler Run to the present location of the Pinchot Trail. So on a sunny Sunday, I headed up Choke Creek to see what I could find.
I followed a trail to Choke Creek Falls and passed a family out for a hike. I had this beautiful 20 foot falls all to myself and took some pictures. The falls has two drops and tumbles into a deep pool. Downstream was a large beaver dam and pond.
I continued upstream through teaberry and low brush along a faint trail. I passed another waterslide in the creek. I stayed in the woods to avoid blueberry thickets and wet meadows. In places I had a view across the meadows, through which the meandering Choke Creek flowed. Beaver dams continued along the creek. Due to the wet conditions, I had to keep distance from the meadows, but enjoyed beautiful forests of pine and spruce. Some of the trees were quite large. The setting reminded me of the West Canada Lake Wilderness in the Adirondacks.
I had to circumvent another boggy area, but returned to the creek to see it meander between grassy sedges. I continued to hike upstream. The creek had more gradient, with rapids and pools. I was able to hike closer to the creek since the ground wasn’t so wet. I passed a couple of cascading waterslides. The forests became even more beautiful with huge white pine trees and spruce. The auburn needles coated the forest floor. The forests were darker, with moss and some rhododendron. Up ahead was a larger waterslide that fed a pool. It was a great spot. I continued up along the creek as it babbled below me. Some places really reminded me of the Adirondacks. I encountered a few more wet spots but soon reached the Pinchot Trail and had a bite to eat at a campsite overlooking the creek. I returned back to my car along the trail; I felt like I was flying as compared to the bushwhacking I had to do along the creek.
This section of Choke Creek is very beautiful and diverse. The terrain was easy and the brush wasn’t too impenetrable. Some wet areas will require any trail to be kept away from the creek; in other places, the trail can be close to it. Besides the creek, I really enjoyed the spruce and pine forests, and the diverse habitats. This route would make an excellent addition to the Pinchot Trail.