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IF YOU GO

Where: In Paradise Township, Pa.

Trail information: A moderate 3-mile loop hike at Cranberry Creek on the Nothstein Preserve in Paradise Township. Trail ranges from wide and flat to looser and rocky.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

• Do not block neighbor’s driveway at the trailhead.

• No restrooms or trash cans. Pack out what you pack in.

• Boots and hiking stick suggested.

• Leashed dogs of considerate owners allowed.

• Fishing and hunting in season permitted — wear fluorescent orange.

• Thanks to the people of Paradise Township, who support acquiring natural forested lands for public enjoyment with a dedicated tax, and Pocono Heritage Land Trust, which has conserved thousands of acres of forestland and creek corridors in our area.

A new trail leads to the quarry.

There are several small waterfalls on Cranberry Creek. This cave is the result of rock torn away, possibly by floodwaters, or possibly by roots of the trees growing in the rock surface penetrating and cracking the rock below so that it fell away. 

Find your peaceful place outdoors

By Carol Hillestad

Being human in the time of COVID-19 has been tough. We’ve been isolated, our daily patterns interrupted. We’ve borne the loss of a sister, a colleague, old friends. You may love a child who feels lost and afraid, who wonders — as we all do — what comes next?

 

Being in nature can’t fix all our sorrows. But it can help you still your mind, regroup, and turn down the chatter.

 

Let me tell you about one place, near Cranberry Creek in Paradise Township, that does this for me.

 

As you set off from the trailhead, the trail is wide and flat: a shady woods road. Five minutes of walking brings into view a simple bridge across the creek. Pause a minute to take in the view downstream — the creek widens here and islets of trees and water-loving plants have formed, a pretty sight in the morning sun.

 

On the other side of the bridge, the trail divides. Bearing left, you head uphill and the sound of the creek recedes. The trail is looser and rocky. You see understory growth of witch hazel and blueberries. The woods are mixed oaks, hickories, maple and beech. Spring’s wildflowers are gone now — pink ladies’ slipper, star flower and violet — but the spotted leaves of trout lily linger. The railroad tracks are just visible, curving along the shape of the hill to the right.

 

Ahead, hemlocks and rhododendrons appear as the trail trends down toward a small hollow – just a fold in the earth, really, but able to capture rainwater and seeps of groundwater and carry it down to the Cranberry.

 

Here is where my breathing slows and the outer world falls away. This little rill has no name. The hollow it occupies feels somehow outside of time — a place just right for slowing down. Downed logs offer a place to sit. The air has a greenish cast, and it is noticeably cooler here. As the water steps down the slope, it shimmers among boulders carpeted in deep green moss. A salamander slips out of sight. Ferns stretch away into the shade. I take deep breaths of sweet-smelling air, and the gentle bubbling of pure, cold water is all the soundtrack life needs.

 

Between lands owned by Pocono Heritage Land Trust and Paradise Township, 662 acres of woodland here protect Cranberry Creek — and every drop of water that falls here. So this forest keeps water cold for native trout, and it purifies water on its way to the Cranberry, as it tumbles to Brodhead Creek, Delaware River, and Atlantic Ocean, becoming drinking water for millions of people downstream. More — as humans seek ways to slow climate change, every tree counts. Trees trap and hold carbon and “exhale” the oxygen we breathe. They are our first, best defense in reducing the greenhouse gases that threaten life on Earth.

 

On a recent visit to this place, with my spirit soothed, I continued on, up the far side of the hollow, along the trail into the land owned by Pocono Heritage Land Trust. The rushing sound of Cranberry Creek guided me left, to a low waterfall, backed by a steep rock escarpment— another beautiful place of profound, natural peace. I hope you’ll explore these woods, too, and see what you can find here for yourself.

 

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

 

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