Over the years, the Countryside Conservancy has protected land and established trails, primarily in the Tunkhannock Creek watershed. Several of its preserves surround Lackawanna State Park, including the Ziegler and Gardner Spencer Preserves, which adjoin one another.
The small parking area is at the Ziegler Preserve. The trails at both preserves are for hiking and mountain biking; be sure to give riders the right of way. The trails are not named, and only the trails in the Ziegler Preserve are marked with occasional blue arrows. However, all trails are well established. One concern is that there is a web of interconnecting trails, which can make navigation difficult. Thankfully, many trail junctures had laminated maps to show the location.
Our hike began along stone walls and small ledges as we gradually climbed. We kept making right hand turns until we entered the Gardner Spencer Preserve, which featured meadows and some views. The trails in the Gardner Spencer Preserve were professionally built for mountain bikes with sloped and banked trails. We passed the foundation of a barn and descended the meadow into a hemlock glen.
The glen was very scenic with a babbling stream and ledges. Hemlocks covered the canopy with deep green boughs. A sign said there was a hiking only trail, but it was tough to follow with the snow. After enjoying the creek, we retraced our steps to the mountain bike trail as it continued under hemlocks and climbed back up through the meadow.
We then followed trails to the left which led us into the highlight of our hike-Tunnel Vision. Here, a trail was cut into a grove of spruce trees, creating a tunnel effect. It was beautiful, and a nice change from the meadows and hardwood forests. We left the spruce grove, crossed another stone wall and made a right. Here, was the next highlight-a loop that descended into a beautiful hemlock grove above a small stream. The forest was adorned with sandstone ledges. A beautiful, serene place that should not be missed.
Our hike continued along some ledges and then descended to a series of interconnecting rock walls. We continued to descend into the Ziegler Preserve and then climbed to hike along an impressively large rock wall under hemlocks. We circled around, passing trails that went into the Lackawanna State Park, and descended to where we began.
This was an excellent hike and I will surely return to hike more of the trails in the summer and fall. The diversity was great, with stately hardwood forests, stone walls, ledges, meadows, views, streams, and Tunnel Vision. I’m sure there are a lot of wildflowers in summer throughout the meadows and the preserves looked ideal for birdwatching.
Thanks to all the volunteers who made these trails a reality.
Parking is at 41.582394, -75.693586. Do not block the private driveway entrance.