Through the Pocono Forests and Waters Conservation Landscape, PEC coordinates Northeast PA’s Get Your Tail On the Trail program. Each month, in partnership with Discover NEPA, we highlight some of the region’s best hikes, rides, runs, and trail adventures. March’s Trail of the Month is the Grand Tour Loop, as featured earlier this month on the Discover NEPA website.
Take the Get Your Tail on the Trail challenge and learn about upcoming dates here.
As we all learned at a young age, Pennsylvania was historically clear-cut, mined, and industrialized up until the early 1900s. Although you may not find many old-growth forests in the Northeastern PA region, the restoration and preservation projects that have taken place locally are a site to behold. This, coupled with breathtaking views of PA’s Northeastern corridor and a diverse array of flora and fauna, is what makes The Nature Conservancy’s Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain so special.
Moosic Mountain had been slated for development before it was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2001, protecting the unique and sensitive mountaintop habitat. This move preserved a healthy ecosystem comprised of everything from towering oaks and fruit-bearing shrubs to birds and butterflies. The pristine landscape is incomparable to any other in Northeastern PA, and you would never know otherwise that this land was once fated to be anything other than a nature preserve.
The Grand Tour Loop encompasses several trails that provide an opportunity to view various habitats and much of the 2,250-acre preserve. Starting at the main parking lot, this loop consists of the following trails in order: Blueberry, Waterfall, White Birches, Waterfall, Powerline, High Voltage, Gene’s, Bruised Ego and a short loop around Conglomerate before jumping back on Bruised Ego towards the parking lot.
The Blueberry trail is true to its name, as it takes you through low-lying blueberry bushes that provide food for birds and small animals in the early summer. At the top of the trail, you will experience stunning 360-degree views of at least 8 counties – Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Wyoming, Susquehanna, Columbia, Carbon, and Monroe.
From there, the following trails will take you through various different ecosystems where you have a chance to see wildlife. Near streams and wetlands, turtles and frogs can be found sunning themselves on warm days. Within the stunted pines and low-lying shrubs, you can find caterpillars eating their fill in early Spring before transforming into beautiful moths and butterflies. Birding is also a favorite activity for visitors to the Preserve. Visitors can experience the song of visiting Warblers, Eastern Towhees nesting in the stunted pines, and resident Hawks searching for prey as the weather begins to improve. Of particular interest is the Hermit Thrush, whose flute-like song is, to many, the voice of Moosic Mountain.
Towards the end of your hike, the Conglomerate trail will take you along fascinating rock outcrops that are unique to this area. Interestingly, over the past 20 years, The Nature Conservancy’s land managers have also been discovering natural trail markers throughout the preserve most likely left by the indigenous people who inhabited these lands prior to European settlement, adding to the intricate history of the area.
Game species such as white tail deer, black bear, turkey, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare and coyote can also be found at the preserve. Hunting is permitted in cooperation with PA Game Commission regulations and visitors are asked to wear orange during this time.
The Nature Conservancy conducts seasonal guided hikes in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Subscribe to their calendar to be the first to know about upcoming events near you.
While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out some of the places to eat and drink nearby! Start your day on the right foot with a morning brew from Electric City Roasting Café. The local company offers your favorite cup of coffee or tea and a brunch menu at the café in Peckville. If you’re feeling up to carb loading with a full breakfast, The Eatery by Jessica is a nearby Jessup staple. 10 miles is a long hike, so grab some sugary snacks at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates and load them into your pack – if you’re hiking with a group, they’ll thank you later! After your adventure comes to an end, re-fuel at The Loading Dock Bar and Grill. With 20 taps, great food, and local micro brews-to-go, this spot is a can’t miss for locals and visitors!
The generosity of Dick and Nancy Eales has enabled the Nature Conservancy to continue to expand the preserve, which today encompasses about 2,250 acres, and to conduct the robust prescribed burning necessary to maintain the fire-dependent natural community. Collaboration with local leaders, volunteers and members of the Hubbard Bike Club provided the resources that allowed them to design and implement the incredible trail system. Members of the bike club, especially Rob Gregory, continue to clear and monitor the trail conditions today. To learn about volunteer opportunities with the Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania, check out the volunteer portal on their website. You can also stop by the Hauser Nature Center, 1567 Long Pond Road, Long Pond, during business hours to learn more about volunteering or upcoming programs.
The Nature Conservancy was established in 1951 protecting lands and waters across the United States and then around the world, working in all 50 states and now in more than 70 countries around the world. They employ 3,000+ around the world, including more than 400 scientists.
Thank you to Molly Anderson, Volunteer and Member Engagement Manager at the Nature Conservancy, for assisting with the completion of this blog.