Over the last several years, vast areas of the Poconos have been set aside as preserves, many with trails. The Poconos are famous for its waterfalls and gorges, but its plateau is home to extensive wetlands and streams that harbor incredible diversity.
The Nature Conservancy has several parcels of land that make up the Long Pond Preserve. We traveled to hike Cathy‘s Trail, a short two mile loop. We parked at the Nature Conservancy visitor center, crossed a playing field to the right, and soon found the trail. The trail is level as it explores scenic woodlands of maple, pine, spruce, and beech. Parts of the trail do get wet from a nearby swamp. We hiked near a small boulder field and returned through more open hardwood forests to a meadow, which we hiked around back to the car. Overall, this is a nice easy trail that is good for kids. I really enjoyed the deep spruce forests with the moss and ground pine. We could hear traffic from I-80.
Next was a visit to the Long Pond Barrens. Parking off of PA 118 is non-existent. This preserve features an extensive selection of wide, mowed paths through fields of blueberry and stunted oak, with pitch pine. It is easy to hike a variety of loops. No trails are marked or signed, we navigated them using the Google earth map on our phone. Several areas are wet. It was a unique place with the pitch pine rising over the stunted forest and brush. While nice, it is not as scenic as the Eales Preserve. I think the best time to see this preserve is a sunny day after a snowfall, or during fall foliage season when the meadows explode with color.
I hope to explore more of the Poconos.