This weekend’s trip was to Bear Creek Nature Preserve in Wilkes Barre, PA. Bear Creek is our favorite place to hike in Pennsylvania! I think you’ll see why after seeing these pictures!
The Bear Creek Nature Preserve website is extremely helpful.
Address: 47 Rabbit Run Lane, Wilkes-Barre, Bear Creek, PA 18702
Distance: Your choice! 1.1-20+ miles.
Quote of the Trip:
Caitlin: “Man, look at all these trees!”
Kyle: “Yep, it’s the woods! This is where the trees come to live!”
For me, the trip starts the night before. We talk all week long about where we should go. A lot depends on weather, time constraints and any health concerns. On Friday night at dinner, we decided that we would go to Bear Creek. I prepared for the hike right before bed.
Day Hike! What to bring??
I’m always confused by the people who are walking around in the woods with no backpack. Our common remark is: “whaaat are you dooing??” This statement does not come from a place of judgement–it comes from a place of concern! Even day hikes require a certain amount of gear and safety equipment. Having the right stuff at home doesn’t help! Bring it with you! Over the next several months, I plan to give weekly “Tips” on all the things you see above (plus more)–today I’ll just make a list.
On my body:
On Saturday, October 29, 2017, the forecast called for moderate weather (mid 60s), but the morning was to be on the colder side (~40°). I wore a tech wick t-shirt under a mid-weight 1/4 zip baselayer (both from EMS). For the morning, I brought the Arcteryx Atom LT jacket.
On the bottom, I wore RBX boxer briefs underneath SKINS compression pants (the boxers solve my see-thru pants problem). My bright pink compression socks are MOJO brand and on my feet I wore a pair of Salomon GTX X-Ultra 2s. Not pictured: Salomon low trail gators.
Something to know! We could NEVER afford to pay full price for all this gear. Almost everything we buy comes from discount sites. I’ve provided links to the company websites because the items come and go on discount sites.
If I could go back in time, you ask?
- I would wear shorts instead of boxers. It was too warm! If I had worn shorts on top of my pants rather than boxers underneath, I could have taken my pants off as the temp went up. Just a tiny adjustment for comfort.
Also referred to as the “Oh, sh*t Kit”
Things to include:
- TP (toilet paper is essential on all hikes)
- First Aid
- Band aids, alcohol wipes, and mole skin
- A Knife
- Emergency heat blanket
- Head Lamp
- Hand/Toe warmers
- Water purification tablets
- Bug Spray
- Not pictured: lighter, map,
- A backpack to carry all the things
- Water bladder
- Rain jacket
- Hats, gloves, buffs for warmth
- Z-Seat (the best 20$ I ever spent)
Since we live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, every hike we plan comes with a drive. To get to Bear Creek, the trip takes ~2 hours. On this particular drive we passed the time by taking turns playing our favorite songs. Kyle likes death metal…annnd I like happy, silly songs. It’s an odd but perfectly suited mix. As we approached the trail head, I interrupted our rotation to play something we always agree on: classical marches.
Listening to the march, we readied our gear and gave our bodies a quick warm-up. If I could, I would have taken that music with us.
Bear Creek Nature Preserve has several loops to choose from. You can very easily craft a hike that suites your needs. Our plan was to follow the red trail going left from the parking lot to the gray trail which leads down to the purple loop. At the bottom of the purple loop there is secondary gray trail that crosses over two streams–we figured we would give that try. After completing the out and back gray trail we would finish the purple loop, turn right on the red trail, left on the green loop, and right on the yellow loop. The yellow loop would take us back to the parking lot.
What actually happened:
We took the first gray spur trail not realizing we hadn’t gone far enough. The first turn-off leads to a service road and there is no continuation on the other side. We looked around for a few minutes before realizing our mistake. Dope!
Once back on track, we took the correct gray spur trail and about half way down there is an unmarked turnoff trail. The trail marker meant to indicate our turn had fallen off so we continued straight. It ended up being a happy surprise as we found the ruins of an old stone building.
The hike starts in a tunnel of rhododendrons. Kyle tells me that the summer blooms are a must-see.
The fall colors were incredible as we followed along the scenic Shades Creek trail (gray markers).
The gray trail brings you a waterfall. This is where we turned left onto the purple loop.
We made our way to the bottom of the purple trail and turned right on the gray spur trail. Our happy mistake happened when we continued straight onto an unmarked trail–we should have turn right to stay on the gray trail. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were headed in the wrong direction, but we hadn’t turned around before coming across a group of decaying stone buildings. It happens more than you might think that we happen upon a broken down structure in the middle of the woods. It is always a little bit eerie, but most of all it makes me think of all the people who have been here before us. No roads lead to this collection of walls, yet the structure still stands.
At the bottom of the gray spur, after crossing the second stream, we found a peaceful, untouched area of Hemlock and Pine trees. Although the streams were dry during our hike, it was definitely worth the walk. We forgot to take a picture in the grove of trees–the following is the best we could do without turning around. Wink. Wink.
Shortly after returning to the purple loop, there is an area of land that is unlike anything I have ever seen. Dead trees are sporadically placed throughout ~10 acres of swampy lowland. We call it “The Land of the Mummified Giants.”
A quarter mile past the mummified giants, we crossed a stream. This is one of Kyle’s favorite parts. Careful! The rocks are slippery even when dry.
Further up on the red trail, we were analyzing and discussing a dead tree with a tumor-like growth. Kyle jokingly said, “you should climb up it and stand on top of the tumor.” I thought he had a better chance of making it to the top so I convinced him to be the one to climb up. He would have made it but the tumor was rotten and it disintegrated in his hand. What an entertaining little side note!
It seemed like too soon that we were making our way around the yellow loop. One of my favorite things to come across in the woods is a rock balance. Some of my fellow hikers are incredible at creating these one of a kind pieces of art.
Just another quarter mile up the yellow trail and we found ourselves back at the parking lot. I think Kyle was ready for some dinner, but I was sad that the hike was over.
Our day hike was relaxing and meandering with snack breaks, photo shoots and turn offs. We hiked for 6 hours and totaled ~15 miles. If you can’t tell already, I would absolutely recommend the Bear Creek Nature preserve to anyone and everyone. It is a seldom trafficked arrangement of well-marked, well-maintained trails. There is truly something for everyone!
Until next time! Get outside and give out some high fives!