Hiking the South Branch Trail from Lackawanna State Park to the Messimer Preserve

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After the epic snowfall, a bit of cabin fever began to set in, so we were excited to do a hike.  The snow seemed to have melted a bit, or so we thought.  We decided to hike a new trail that connects Lackawanna State Park to the Countryside Conservancy’s Messimer Preserve along the scenic South Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek.

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We parked at a small lot along Cole Road, crossed the bridge and turned left onto the trail as it went along the edge of a field.  At the end of the field, there was a sign and we entered the scenic hemlock forests along the creek.

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I did not notice any blazes, but the trail path seemed evident.  The snow was also a lot deeper than I was expecting.  The scenery was excellent as the large creek tumbled over riffles and around boulders under the hemlocks and pine.  What a place to hike on a hot summer day, I thought.  It was noticeably cooler in this deep, shaded glen along the creek.  We reached a powerline swath and here it got a little confusing.  The trail goes up the swath a short ways and then continues along an old grade higher above the creek.  It was still a nice hike, although the floodplain along the creek is worth exploring.

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The trail entered the Messimer Preserve and a scenic hemlock forest returned.  We reached an old quarry and abandoned road that came down from the right.  We followed straight on the old grade to a private property line.  Back at the quarry, an old grade descends to the creek; I recommend you take it.  It explores the creek and more hemlocks with ruins of an old mill across the creek.  We then retraced our steps.

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The South Branch Trail is a great hike, and fairly easy.  Hiking along the creek was beautiful and this trail had more of an isolated feel than others in the park.  It is definitely worth a visit the next time you’re at the state park.

More photos.

More info about the Countryside Conservancy.