A Quiet, Photogenic Trail

This article was originally published on DiscoverNEPA as part of the monthly series, Get Your Tail on the Trail. Log your miles at location “Split Rock Trail” to participate in the Trail of the month! Sign up for free at TailontheTrail.org. Rachael Stark is PEC’s Northeastern Pennsylvania Program Coordinator.

Rachael Stark, Northeastern Pennsylvania Program Coordinator

Take a stroll along the picturesque Split Rock Trail at the North Branch Land Trust (NBLT) Picton Wildlife Sanctuary South and enjoy immersing yourself in the changing of the season.

The unassuming North Branch Land Trust George and Lillian Picton Wildlife Sanctuary (South) is located at 424 Pond Creek Road, White Haven with plenty of parking before the gated entrance. The Sanctuary is open from dawn until dusk. Please note Picton North and other nearby private properties feature hunting in-season- and are closed during hunting season. As a safety precaution, always wear orange for safety when outdoors.

Trail Overview

Sunlight passes through the namesake of the trail, the ‘Split Rock.’ Photo Courtesy of North Branch Land Trust.

To begin your journey, follow the old road less than a quarter of a mile to find the 1.6-mile Split Rock Trail branching out on the left. The bright yellow trail markers make this path through the hardwood forest easy to follow, even when the trail is covered with fallen leaves during this time of year. The trail winds through a dense forest full of maple, oak, and beech that are dropping some of the final leaves of the season.

As you enter the forest, take a moment to appreciate the crunching of the leaves beneath your feet, the smell of the changing season, and the fading of the Autumn colors, all of which will overwhelm your senses in this Preserve. Keep your eyes peeled for forest dwelling birds, deer, chipmunks, and some of the largest acorns you will ever see dropped by the towering oak trees!

As the path begins its moderate ascent, you will notice that it begins to follow the mountain’s ridge line making for a wonderful view. Before reaching the namesake of the trail, the ‘Split Rock’, you will have an opportunity to take the .1-mile spur to Lookout Point. This grandiose view overlooks the valley and mountains beyond the Preserve and will take your breath away, perfect for photography practice or a quick trail snack. After this detour, you will arrive at the intricate ‘Split Rock’, a geologic marvel sure to catch your attention. The large boulder placed at the top of this trail was likely dropped during the last glacial retreat and its unique appearance deserves appreciation. From there, the trail will descend through the hardwood forest back down to the old road.

The loop trail ends further up the road you walked in on, but you can take another detour on the .6-mile Lillian Pond Loop if you want to take advantage of more beautiful views and wildlife viewing opportunities. There is also a pollinator garden on site and the 1.1-mile White Tail Trail if you wish to explore more of the hardwood forest.

Nearby Attractions

There are plenty of recreational opportunities to enjoy at the Preserve. it is worth taking a full day to really immerse yourself in the experience! North Branch Land Trust also offers several guided hikes and special events throughout the year, keep an eye on their calendar or subscribe to their newsletter for more information.

The Split Rock Trail, at George and Lillian Picton Wildlife Sanctuary, winds through a dense forest full of maple, oak, and beech that are dropping some of the final leaves of the season

Make sure to stop in the nearby Downtown area of White Haven, PA after your day of exploring for some great food and other recreational experiences. The town hosts a trailhead for the Delaware and Lehigh National Corridor, an access area for Lehigh Gorge State Park, and it is a short drive to Hickory Run State Park, making it the perfect place to spend a long weekend. There are plenty of restaurants in the area that are friendly for families, couples, and dog moms. Check out some of the recommendations from our past blogs to find the food you’re craving!

Get Involved

North Branch Land Trust works with landowners and their communities to conserve the natural, working, and scenic landscapes in Northeastern Pennsylvania that enrich our lives. NBLT manages several other Preserves, some of which are open from dawn until dusk and others are by appointment only. To volunteer with North Branch Land Trust, email [email protected] with subject line “Volunteer” or going to nblt.org/contact.


Thank you to Karley Stasko, Director of Marketing and Development, and Ellen Ferretti, Executive Director at North Branch Land Trust for providing the information for this blog. To learn more about North Branch Land Trust, please visit the website at www.NBLT.org or email [email protected].