Tour #5 – With My Best Travel Companion

About a month after my tour with Diane, my husband Matt and I left home on the two-day PA State Park Tour #5.  The first park we visited this day was Shikellamy State Park along Route 15.  I had visited this park many years ago as a child with my very good friend Katie (who grew up in Elmira) and her mother’s family.  That day we picnicked at the upper park overlooking Northumberland and I remember being fascinated with the charcoal pits where the hot coals were to be placed after cooking.  Those charcoal pits are still there and I have seen them in other parks as well although they don’t hold the same fascination for me any longer.  On this trip we visited the upper park and enjoyed the view on a clear August day.  When we left Shikellamy I had to retrace our path as I had forgotten to get off the highway in Milton on our way down.  Milton State Park is located along the Susquehanna River and is a day-use only park.  I used the bathrooms which were fairly new and in great condition (as is the general condition of every state park bathroom I have used!)

Leaving Milton and heading to our next park was a welcome change in scenery and pace as we got off highways and eventually drove into state forest land.  Sand Bridge State Park is another day-use only park yet proved to be a lovely spot with a babbling brook, lush greenery, a new pavilion and bathrooms.  It seems as though there has been some recent efforts to upgrade most day-use parks’ bathroom facilities.  Not too far from Sand Bridge is Raymond B Winter State Park where we had hoped to camp.  After driving through the camp ground twice, I decided to drive the short distance to Ravensburg and set up camp there.  Along the route to Ravensburg we passed a Bald Eagle State Forest office and snapped a photo.  With only 12 camp sites at Ravensburg, we fully expected to be alone at the camp ground however a group of volunteers was gathering there for a weekend of trail clean-up on the Mid-State Trail.  This was the first time Matt had camped with me in my tent and the excursion would have been non-noteworthy had Matt not disturbed a nest of ground bees while chopping fire wood.  He got stung a number of times but luckily I found one Benadryl in my purse that relieved his pain.

The following morning after packing up we drove from Ravensburg to RB Winter and in between we found McCall’s Dam State Park where there is no park sign and no dam!  We had driven past the park the day before but without a sign of any kind I wasn’t convinced where I was.  Having no sign made it rather difficult to determine where to take the photo of proof and I really ought to leave this park on my list for a future visit with hopes for a sign.  It was a beautiful day when we reached RB Winter and we spent some time investigating the park.  We agreed we would like to return to here in the future with our camper.

The drive from RB Winter to our next park was a long drive over hills and into valleys and through lush state forest land.  By the time we reached Poe Valley State we knew we were running short on time but the beautiful sight of the lake and the new bath house were enough to make us want to linger.  This park is high on a hill far from everything and very peaceful.  Poe Paddy State Park is a few miles from Poe Valley and has a rustic camp ground.  We did nothing more than drive through the park in effort to make it to our last park of the day and have our evening meal.

At Reeds Gap State Park we set up our small grill in the picnic area and made a quick, hot meal to re-energize ourselves.  The map I had (outdated) indicated a swimming pool at Reeds Gap but it had since been removed and the old bathhouse was still standing unused.  We determined the pool must have been old and rather than replace it, the DCNR put the money into upgrading facilities at Poe Valley a few miles away.

When we left Reeds Gap I decided to travel toward State College to come home and we drove through some beautiful farm country.  One town we passed through had the narrowest main road I have ever seen with barely room for a sidewalk between road & house/building.  You could easily imagine the town in the days before the automobile.  We also saw the “dotted roadway” near State College which I found very interesting.  If you’ve never driven near State College these large white dots on the road are meant to keep you at a safe distance from the car ahead of you in this hilly region where it’s difficult to see far ahead and traffic congestion is a real concern during certain hours of the day.

Home with twenty-eight state parks and five state forests checked off my list.

Bald Eagle State Forest 2011-08-11 McCalls Dam 2011-08-12 Milton 2011-08-11 Poe Paddy 2011-08-12 Poe Valley 2011-08-12 RB Winter 2011-08-11 Reeds Gap 2011-08-12 Sand Bridge 2011-08-11 Shikellamy 2011-08-11Matt at Sand Bridge The View from Shikellamy Lookout The marina - Lower Shikellamy SP Northumberland, from Shikellamy Lookout

 

Tour #4 – Repeats And Further

In mid-July 2011 I planned a tour with my friend, Diane, which included an overnight stay at one park with pet camping as she wanted to bring along her dog.  This was the first tour I planned where I was not the driver so I looked forward to being able to really enjoy the scenery for the entire trip!

After loading Diane’s Rav4 the evening before, we headed out early in the morning with our first stop being Ole Bull State Park once again so I could get the photo.  From Ole Bull we headed south to Kettle Creek State Park, NOT missing the turn this time!  We did not spend any time in either park as I had already visited both on Tour #1 with Matt.  After leaving Kettle Creek we stopped at the Sproul State Forest office to snap a photo and then I felt like I was on a new adventure with only new parks and forests ahead.

Hyner Run State Park was the next stop on our tour.  We drove through the camp ground and stopped in the picnic area to eat lunch and walk the dog.  Hyner Run has a swimming pool and there were a lot of folks using the swimming area on this warm day.  Just above Hyner Run is Hyner View State Park, a must-see park in the system.  I had been told about this park a few years ago by a woman who rides a Harley who had been there on a group bike run.  On a clear day the view is phenomenal.  There was a wedding about ready to begin this day and the wedding party and most of their guests had arrived via Harley Davidson motorcycles.  Hyner View has a similar bronze statue as Leonard Harrison, this one honoring the forest fire fighter (LHSP statue is a CCC worker.)

Leaving Hyner View we drove past the Tiadaghton State Forest office so stopped to take a photo here.  The word Tiadaghton means…  Our next destination was a small park that was inaccessible due to a bridge being out so we headed to the park where we had camping reservations, Little Pine State Park.  Little Pine is near the Pine Creek Rail Trail and Waterville.  My sister’s husband co-owns some property not far from Waterville so I had driven past Little Pine before.  This day we really hadn’t much more time than enough to set up camp, get a bite to eat a restaurant conveniently located just outside the park and build a fire before calling it a night.  The dog, who was brought along because it was thought he would enjoy the outing, really seemed to dislike the camping portion of the tour!

The next morning we left Little Pine and headed to the next park just above I80.  Ravensburg State Park is a small park with two nice picnic pavilions and rustic camping – meaning no electric sites, no showers.  From Ravensburg we were supposed to drive below I80 to our next park.  When the Rav4’s gas light came on in the middle of farm country with no gas station within 30 miles, we turned back to Jersey Shore by which time I had lost my patience with not having control over the decision-making that goes along with being the driver.  We skipped 4-5 parks that were on my list for this tour and instead headed directly to the Williamsport area where we visited Susquehanna State Park.  Located along the Susquehanna River, this park’s highlight is the Hiawatha paddle boat.

From here it was a rather straight shot home up Route 15, with nineteen state parks and four state forests checked off my list.

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ImageImageImageImageImageImageThe Hiawatha - Susquehanna State Park Someone would rather be home... Forest Fire Fighter Status - Hyner View Forest district map - Hyner View The view from Hyner View Hyner View Forest Fire Fighter Statue Kettle Creek

Tour #3 – Driver’s Choice

Early in July 2011 Corinne and I had just returned from a few days in the Adirondack region. I like returning home from the Adirondack region about as much as I like returning home from a visit to a Pennsylvania state forest/park.  It was Saturday morning and Corinne was up for a boondoggle so we headed off to the Pine Creek Natural Area and the state parks that overlook the valley below.  She had never seen the gorge so visiting Leonard Harrison State Park was a genuine treat for us both.  I was pleased to find the park much improved from my last visit in the 1980’s.  Leaving the east rim, we drove to the west rim to visit Colton Point State Park which remains rustic and reminiscent of the CCC men who built it.

A public works program created in the 1930’s as a way to ease nation-wide unemployment, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a cooperative effort between the Departments of War, Agriculture, Interior and Labor.  At the height of the program there were 136 CCC camps in Pennsylvania – 96 on State Forest lands.  The number of camps was second only to California with 155 camps.  Beyond a doubt, this was the most beneficial, most enduring public works program ever created in the US.

This was about as far as Corinne was anticipating travelling that day but I convinced her that the next park was “just a few miles away.”  We eventually reached Lyman Run State Park which had its dam rebuilt just a few years earlier.  Even though she kept telling me the GPS said to turn around and go home, I insisted we continue through the Susquehannock State Forest to Cherry Springs State Park, possibly one of the coolest parks in the system. This park is located in one of the darkest spots  around here and is used by astronomers both amateur and professional.  A few times each year visitors can join a “Star Party” with a local astronomy group. I continued driving westward, reaching Cherry Springs long before night fall and too early to truly appreciate the star gazing field.  Just down the road from Cherry Springs is a small park named Patterson State Park.  The sign was missing on this trip so I had to leave the park on my list so I could revisit another time in hopes the DCNR may replace the sign.  Not far from Patterson is another small park that Corinne was in no way interested in visiting that day so we headed north to Route 6 then east toward Wellsboro.  Fortunately Denton Hill State Park is on Route 6 so stopping at this last park of the day for a quick photo was almost effortless.

The town of Galeton was having their fireworks show this evening and getting through that area on Route 6 proved to be a bit challenging with all the folks pouring into town for this annual event.  East of Galeton I was pulled over by the Galeton cop for driving over the speed limit but he was nice enough to let me off with a warning.  Thank you, officer whateveryournameis.

Tour #3 ended with 12 (or 13) parks and two state forests checked off and enjoying my progress!

Cherry Springs 2011-07-02 Colton Point 2011-07-02 Denton Hill 2011-07-02 Leonard Harrison 2011-07-02 Lyman Run 2011-07-02 Patterson 2011-07-02 Susquehannock State Forest 2011-07-02 IMG_0224 IMG_0230 IMG_0235 IMG_0238 IMG_0248 IMG_0257 IMG_0269