Every other year it seems I find myself back at Woodbourne Forest, north of Dimock. This preserve covers over 600 acres and is owned by the Nature Conservancy, the first of its preserves in the state. The forest is famous for its old growth forest. Here, you will find giant beech, oak, cherry, and ash trees. However, it are the ancient hemlocks that make this place so special. The giant trees with canopies of green are a beautiful sight, casting the forest floor into eternal shade. With its wide variety of habitats, from streams, fields, wetlands, and drier slopes, Woodbourne boasts an impressive diversity. Nearly 200 bird species have been documented. The preserve is described as Hike No. 2 in Hiking the Endless Mountains.
The woolly adelgid has reached Woodbourne, and the hemlocks have been affected, but most trees are hanging on. We began on the blue trail as it circled the northern and eastern parts of the preserve. The trail passes many of the preserve’s large trees and we hiked through spruce plantations as an owl hooted in the distance. A white blazed link trail brought us to the orange trail, featuring more large trees and a meadow as a deer silently ran away from us.
Next was the yellow trail as it did a small loop through the old growth hemlock forest. A frigid breeze blew off of the frozen swamp, formed by a beaver dam encased in snow and ice. Shafts of sunlight pierced the high canopy to illuminate the forest floor. The colors were stark and beautiful, from the deep blue skies, white snow on the frozen ice, to the brown and gray trunks of the trees, and finally the green hemlocks. Besides the breeze, the wetland was serene and silent. In early summer, this is a place that teems with endless life and the buzzing, chirps, songs, and calls that goes along with it.
The trails are pretty well marked and most trail junctures have signs. There were fallen trees and branches on the trails, but overall it was a nice hike in one of Pennsylvania’s first protected places.