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Bruce Lake Natural Area


Where: Egypt Meadow Lake Trail, part of an 8-mile trail network at Bruce Lake Natural Area in Palmyra Township, Pa., adjacent to Promised Land State Park. The trailhead is on the east side of Route 390, just south of Route 84. Please do not block the trailhead gate.

GPS coordinates: 41.359356, -75.203335

Trail information: 2.2-mile loop hike at Egypt Meadow Lake. Difficulty is moderate, with rocks underfoot and wet areas.

The Egypt Meadow trailhead is well marked. Head downhill toward the lake. When the lake comes into view, bear right, following the blue-blazed trail that skirts the western shore of the lake. When you come to a wide woods road, go left to the bridge over the inlet from Balsam Swamp. From this point, the guided hike will go west along the woods road to the Panther Swamp trail marker, taking the Panther Swamp trail on the right, and back to the trailhead.

Alternate, longer hike: To continue from the bridge to Bruce Lake, continue east on the woods road, which will narrow, about 1.5 miles. Retrace your steps to return to the parking lot for a total of about 5 miles.


  • Open to the public dawn to dusk.
  • Good maps are available at the ranger station in Promised Land State Park.
  • These are natural areas with abundant wildlife, including black bears and timber rattlesnakes. Plants and animals in the natural area are protected, and it is illegal to remove any natural material, including flowers, feathers or pinecones.
  • Hike safely: Take maps and water, dress for the weather, and tell someone where you will be and when you will return.
  • No trash containers or other facilities. Pack out whatever you pack in.
  • Leashed dogs allowed. Owners must pick up and carry out waste.

A beautiful March at Bruce Lake Natural Area

By Carol Hillestad

An ice fisherman was unloading gear from his truck when I pulled into the Egypt Meadow trail-head of Bruce Lake Natural Area, north of Promised Land. It was 18 degrees with a light breeze there at 1,840 feet. The lake and the land were deep in snow — a brilliant, blue-and-white Po-cono postcard.

The trail I’m taking today skirts the western shore of 47-acre Egypt Meadow Lake. Dammed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the lake accommodates many beaver lodges, and four of them come into view along the trail. Passing through stands of huge rhododendrons, I can see the ice fisherman at work — bluegill, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed and yellow perch are common catches here.

The lake is fed by creeks that rise in Panther Swamp to the west and Balsam Swamp to the south. At the CCC’s dam spillway, water pours into Egypt Creek. Miles later, after joining other small creeks, the water reaches the Lackawaxen River – home of eagles and Zane Grey, and a tributary of the mighty Delaware River. The pure lake water, protected by the natural area’s 2,485 acres of land, eventually flows with the Delaware to the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the trail, enormous tumbled boulders are everywhere. Many sport crops of a lichen called rock tripe — a desperation food that ice-age people would have used to fend off starvation. Mountain laurel, beech, many kinds of oak, maples, and evergreens abound. One tall, old hemlock has a girth of more than 12 feet.

At the halfway point, a footbridge crosses the lake’s inlet from Balsam Swamp. Beavers have built low stick-dams here to raise the water level to their liking. From here, you can continue along the woods road to Bruce Lake, an ice-created kettle-lake, another mile and a half distant.

Instead of continuing to Bruce Lake, I head back along the wide woods road to Panther Swamp Trail. This narrow single track takes me past snow-covered wetlands, up a rocky outcropping, and eventually back to the trailhead.

Scouting a trail in February for a mid-March hike is a dilemma. The season is changing fast — there’s more warmth in the sun; the days are longer. Today’s trail, with snow packed by cross-country skiers and snowshoers, makes for easy walking. But by the third week of March, the snow will likely be gone, and the trail will be rocky. Today, native rhododendrons gang the narrow trail, their leaves almost black, furled like bats. Lake views are clear through their branches. For the hike, the rhodie foliage will be full and open, and lake views will be sporadic.

The boulders, lichen, beaver lodges, hemlocks and mixed hardwood trees will all look different. Snowmelt will reveal vernal pools and swampy ground, and in places the trail will be wet. There will be more birds.

For now, I’m grateful for the gift of a late-winter light throwing deep indigo and lavender shadows across snow and ice … and look forward to walking here again as spring begins. Come on along!

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

Comments from other hikers:

RALPH of Paradise Township is 93 years old and isn’t able to hike anymore, but he enjoys the Get Outdoors Poconos feature stories and photos, which allow him to “be there” vicariously.

JAIME of Stroudsburg: So many things I’m learning on these hikes. New places, snowshoe rentals, more trails – so far it’s been a great couple of hikes with BWA.

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