Go Poconos

 

Van Buskirk Preserve

IF YOU GO

Where: In Paradise Township near Cresco

Trail information: A strenuous hike on and off trail that requires climbing over and crawling under fallen trees. Expect rocky, wet, steep conditions. Walking stick recommended.


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

• Van Buskirk Preserve is public land, preserved by the people of Paradise Township. Open to the public, dawn to dusk. About 80 acres.
• Trails are blazed in yellow. Some unblazed trails exist. Be respectful of adjoining private property. Trails are likely to be blocked by downed trees for an indefinite period.
• No facilities.
• ATVs and motorized vehicles may not be used at the preserve.
• This land is enrolled in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Hunter Access Program and is patrolled. Hunting is permitted in season with proper licenses. Hunters wear orange. Hikers should, too.
• Leashed dogs with responsible owners allowed. Pick up and carry out waste.
• Everything on this land belongs to Paradise Township, including downed trees, which may not be removed for personal use.
Protects Cranberry Creek in the Paradise watershed

 

Six months of change at Van Buskirk Preserve

By Carol Hillestad

 

Last fall, friends and I walked the newly cut trails of Van Buskirk Preserve in Paradise Township. We found fragrant pears in an overgrown orchard, the stone foundation of a long-gone barn, and a vernal pool in an old red rock quarry.

The first week of May this year, we went back. Rocks and boulders along Cranberry Creek were blanketed with thick mats of dark green moss. The creek was gushing. A red eft glowed in last year’s leaf litter. Spring wildflowers were just starting; we found purple violets, red trillium, a pink lady’s slipper orchid and the mottled leaves of trout lily. The nor’easters of March had toppled trees across the trail, but nothing we couldn’t duck under or climb over.

On my next visit two weeks later, everything had changed.

The violent windstorm that rocked the watershed on May 15 left its mark here. Fallen pines blocked most of the trailhead parking area. Getting through to the creek crossing meant scrambling over, under and around branches and trunks. Tree limbs were embedded like swords, deep in the earth. Reaching the far side of the swollen creek, we saw more white pines uprooted, their giant root masses on end and exposed, as tall as houses and studded with slabs of stone. Imagining the roaring tumult that must have engulfed this place gave us the shivers.

We followed the yellow-blazed trail, roughly paralleling the creek, toward the woods road that would lead uphill to the old farm. Where fallen trees blocked the way, we made our own trail, clambering through, around and over obstacles. The footing varied from smooth and grassy to rocky glacial till to marshy and wet. The newest parts of the trail have many sapling stubs that take attention to avoid.

Above the farm, we take a short out-and-back detour to a viewpoint at the top of the quarry. Overlooking the narrow valley of Cranberry Creek, the view takes in the green ridge of Paradise-Price Preserve beyond. The pure, cold Cranberry rises in wetlands and marshes to the north, in Cresco. The creek is protected as an Exceptional Value coldwater fishery, home of our beautiful native brook trout. From here, the creek runs along the east side of Route 191 to join Paradise Creek, and then the Brodhead. Below Stroudsburg, the Brodhead enters the mighty Delaware River, providing drinking water for millions before reaching the Atlantic.

Against the backdrop of raw and broken trees, spring doesn’t despair. Low-bush blueberries are covered with nodding white flowers. Violets in every shade, false lily of the valley, star flower, wild geranium, and Jack-in-the-pulpit abound. Thousands of oak seedlings and saplings are filling in for the skeletal old oaks the gypsy moths devoured a few years ago.

Before the storm, I made a note to myself about the preserve: “This place feels primeval, as if it were somehow outside of time.” Certainly, it is outside the timescale we humans occupy. And that is a thought that gives me pleasure to contemplate – even if it gives me the shivers.

Carol Hillestad is a hike leader and writer for Get Outdoors Poconos, a grant-funded series administered by Brodhead Watershed Association.

 

 
Cranberry Creek is protected as an Exceptional Value coldwater fishery, home of native brook trout.  

 

   
Red trillium in early May near Cranberry Creek in Paradise Township.    
 
A garter snake along the trail at Van Buskirk Preserve.  

 

 
Sunshine streaks Cranberry Creek, looking downstream from the Van Buskirk Preserve in Paradise Township.  

 

 

Comments from other hikers:


Be the first to comment!


 

Share your experiences of this trail -- what you saw, how you liked it:


  FIELDS MARKED WITH * ARE REQUIRED!


 Name:*                                

 E-Mail Address:*                 

 Add me to BWA's FREE e-Newsletter:    Yes      No

 Post my response anonymously:          Yes      No

 Preserve and trail name:*  

  Please add your comments:*

 

 When done, please  or