Rail Gap Pocono Creek Preserve
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- No restrooms.
- Boots and hiking stick suggested.
- Leashed dogs of considerate owners allowed.
- Catch-and-release fishing permitted with license.
- A map showing the route of the Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad is at https://www.abandonedrails.com/wilkes-barre-and-eastern-railroad
- Thanks to the people of Pocono Heritage Land Trust and Stroud Township who work to acquire natural forested lands for public enjoyment and to protect clean, abundant water. Visit www.phlt.org to learn about property protected by the land trust and www.stroudtownship.org to learn about township parks and open space.
Just beyond this sign at the trailhead, trails fan out in Rail Gap Pocono Creek Preserve.
Many kinds of fungi can be found along the creek.
Get to know hidden Pocono Creek
By Carol Hillestad
Looking upstream from a viewpoint over Pocono Creek on a warm autumn day, the scene that spreads out before you fills the senses.
A canopy of blue sky caps hills decked in bright fall colors, set off by black-green rhododendrons and evergreens. Fast-running water bubbles over rocks, drops into pools, and meanders around a rock island the creek created itself. The air is soft. A cool breeze rises from the water. The roar of the creek almost obscures the roar of traffic barreling along Route 80 in Bartonsville.
Here at Rail Gap Pocono Creek Preserve, the creek looks as healthy as any wild creek far off the beaten path in the Brodhead watershed.
Its headwaters start out wild, rising in wetlands, seeps and creeks near the spine of Camelback ridge. But for more than five miles of its course, the Pocono is hemmed in on the west by Route 80 and on the east by Route 611. Its waters stream by the backdoors of shopping malls, offices, hotels, medical buildings and strip malls — and their monster parking lots. With every heavy rain or snowmelt, oil, gas, debris, and road salt find their way toward the creek.
That makes this 61-acre preserve all the more valuable: not just to people — for fishing, gorgeous views, and peace – but especially to the health of this stretch of Pocono Creek and its Class A Wild Trout Waters.
Here, both banks of the creek are thick with old-growth rhododendrons and groves of hemlock, white pine and hardwoods. Forested land like this cleans both air and water naturally, while trapping carbon and mitigating climate change. For free!
From the parking area, trails head in three directions, but their end point is the same — this panoramic view over Pocono Creek.
Along the way, you can stroll the railbed of the old Wilkes-Barre & Eastern Railroad, which carried coal, ice and people between Wilkes-Barre and Stroudsburg from 1893 to the 1930s. Or choose the center trail, which is wide, flat and smooth, accessible for people of most abilities. Or work your way along the creek — a rocky route that takes more time, mainly because the creek puts on a show, and you’ll stop again and again to take in its postcard-perfect scenes.
In fall, you’ll see native mushrooms and wood asters and witch hazel in bloom. The air will have the humus-y smell of fallen leaves. This winter, under a dusting of snow, there will be tracks of small mammals, perhaps a white-tailed deer, and lacy formations of ice in the creek bed. Next spring, as the beech and maples start to leaf out, trout lilies and Canada mayflower will bloom underfoot. And in summer … well, you get the idea.
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