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ICE LAKE SCAVENGER HUNT

IF YOU GO

Where: Ice Lake is off Route 390 in Cresco, Pa.

GPS coordinates: 41.147435, -75.289393

Trail information: Trails are blazed in yellow.
• The loop is about 1.5 miles including the spur to Seven Pines Park. If you go in from Seven Pines, the trail starts behind the ballfields. As you cross the stone wall, immediately go right. (The trail straight ahead leads to State Game Land 221.)
• The trail is mixed: wide and well-groomed in some places, rocky and narrow in others. A hiking stick is helpful for balance. Stay on trails — poison ivy is abundant.

SCAVENGER HUNT

The scavenger hunt is fun for adults and elementary-age children.  Take only pictures and leave only shadows! During the summer of 2020, children up to age 12 may submit their photos to BWA for special acknowledgement. **See scavenger hunt list printout (click button above) for details about how to participate.**
• Special thanks to Tom Gregory of Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau for the videography.
• The series is administered by Brodhead Watershed Association and supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

ABOUT ICE LAKE

• There are benches and a picnic table, but no restrooms or trash cans. Be kind — pack out what you pack in. 

• For information, visit poconoarearecreation.org.
• The people of Paradise and Barrett townships have conserved Ice Lake Preserve to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and access to outdoor recreation. Funding came from the Monroe County Open Space Bond, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and open space funds of Barrett and Paradise.

Find some fun at Ice Lake

By Carol Hillestad

Ice Lake is a little jewel of a preserve in Barrett Township. With every passing cloud, the small lake at its heart reflects a new view — ruffled by spring breezes, mirror-still in full summer, gleaming pewter in fall.

The trails all center around the lake, which was originally built for ice making. Like general stores throughout the Poconos, the nearby Seguine store made ice for its own use and for sale to local customers. The preserve protects Hardytown Run and more than 70 acres — more trails are planned — but the feel of the place is neighborly and intimate.

I leave the car at the adjoining Seven Pines Park, near the ballfields — there’s more parking, and a pleasant spur connects to the lake trail. The spur follows a handsome hand-laid stone wall and soon passes a sturdy old oak tree. Its canopy is high and wide, suggesting that it grew here long before other trees and plants began competing for space.

I’m a regular here. When I just need a few minutes away from the computer or the news, this is my go-to walk. Today is a little different, though. We’re doing a video for BWA’s series of “virtual hikes,” and this one is a scavenger hunt for children and their families.

A friend’s lively 8-year-old is my guinea pig, helping me go through the checklist of natural features I’ve assembled for kids to find. Zoe “collects” the scavenger items by snapping a picture. We’ve bagged the huge old oak tree and are on the hunt for hay-scented fern, lichen, a baby hemlock tree, wintergreen, barberry, witch hazel, and a boulder as tall as she is.

Zoe is a quick study. After we gather evidence for all of her finds, she slows down long enough to discover there is a lot to see at the lake. Fish jump for insects. Pollywogs bask on sunny underwater branches. Dusky salamanders hang suspended just below the surface, as if caught in amber, until a sudden movement sends them wriggling away. Her eyes widen at the deep “galoom-galoom” of bullfrogs.

And what kid isn’t fascinated by moving water? At the inlet to the lake, she dances across a log bridge where Hardytown Run ripples over its sandy bottom. The dam provides a selfie background at the mossy waterfall where the creek leaves the lake, picks up speed and bubbles downstream.

With my mind’s eye, I follow the water’s course to a hidden glen where it joins Cranberry Creek, then flows into the Paradise and Brodhead creeks, finally reaching the Delaware River at the Water Gap. Should I tell Zoe that the water she’s playing in rose from wetlands high above us on Pocono Plateau? That it will become drinking water for millions of people, hundreds of miles away?

Maybe not today. Right now, I just want to watch this elfin child loving this place, to imagine her carrying it in her heart down the course of her life, and to know it will be here, preserved for her — and her grandchildren’s grandchildren — to enjoy.

Carol Hillestad of Cresco is a writer and hike leader for Get Outdoors Poconos, a free hike series administered by Brodhead Watershed Association.

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