IF YOU GO
Where: The Snow Hill Road property is part of Delaware State Forest, with access just off Route 447 in Price Township, Pa. From Route 447 in Price Township, take Snow Hill Road for one-half mile. The parking area is on your right.
GPS: 41.149239, -75.229259
Trail information: Trails vary from wide, grassy and flat to steep and rocky. Trails are not blazed. Respect private property owners whose land abuts the public areas.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- The Snow Hill Road property is more than 300 forested acres that protect water quality and quantity in the Brodhead watershed. Delaware State Forest covers 83,519 acres of forested public land with lakes, creeks, waterfalls, and more than 100 miles of trails open to the public. This parcel, which had been slated for development, was acquired with grant help from The Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Forestry, which is preparing a trail map. For information, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateForests/.
- No facilities or trash cans. Pack out what you pack in.
- Hunting is allowed in Delaware State Forest, and something is usually in season. Always wear orange.
- Hike safe! Go with a buddy and tell someone where you will be and when you will return.
One of the easier trails at the new Snow Hill Road public land off Route 447 in Price Township.
The play of shadow on the looming rocks can make them look alive!
Happy to get a little lost at Snow Hill
By Carol Hillestad
As I set off, it’s still a week before fall officially arrives, but from the car window, the roadside grasses are hazy russet waves, and the sassafras has started to turn. Two turkeys sashay across the road, taking their time. It’s a cool, blue morning, and I’m excited to explore land recently added to Delaware State Forest.
My hiking companion is Lisa Oser, wildlife photographer and avid hiker, and she’s already at the trailhead on Snow Hill Road in Price Township when I arrive. This land includes a stretch of Stony Run and a small waterfall, but neither one of us has approached the creek from this direction. We set off with high hopes — and no expectations.
Crossing the nearly dry bed of a rocky creek, we find trails leading every which way, mostly knee-deep in stilt-grass and smartweed. The one we choose heads uphill through young white pines. Then mixed hardwood forest opens wide on either side, with little underbrush other than hay-scented fern, low-bush blueberries and pine saplings. The trail takes us out into a clearing — the vegetated top of a high grey cliff of 400-million-year-old sandstone.
The thin layer of plant life here is typical of rocky outcrops in the Poconos — we see pincushion mosses, reindeer “moss” lichen, native grasses, snakeroot and wood aster, oaks, hickories, and white pines. One big granddaddy pine grows right out of the rock. The sheer walls below are thick with rock tripe lichen. Looking over the edge, we see tumbled boulders, cracked free from the solid mass by time and ice. We think about rattlesnakes — and are glad that an encounter isn’t likely on a cool day like this.
After roaming a while, we double back and plunge down another rocky trail, sliding on the rubble. A turn we thought would lead toward Stony Run ends up instead in someone’s backyard. So we double back again and try a different turning, as Lisa tells of stories she’s heard of bobcat dens here, where in winter their tracks are everywhere.
Our reward along this trail is an even grander rise of old rock, looming above us, raising complicated feelings of awe and unease. Down the middle runs a dry cascade of sheets and slabs of stone as flat and even as human-made pavers, pushed aside by the incredible strength of water. We imagine it in spring, rushing with snowmelt down to Stony Run, gushing into Brodhead Creek. The 83,500 acres of Delaware State Forest protect this and hundreds of small creeks, wetlands, runs, and streams, keeping their water pure, providing clean air and habitat for creatures large and small.
Time is running short. Retracing our footsteps toward the trailhead, we notice “cat’s eye” trail markers on some of the trees — reflective pins placed by hunters to help them find their way before sunrise and after sunset. And in fact, a hunter materializes from the woods, a friend, out preparing for archery season. A good reminder to wear orange.
Back at the trailhead, we’re exhilarated by a morning of roaming these ancient relics. We’ll be back soon — and find that waterfall yet!
Carol Hillestad of Cresco is a writer and hike leader for Get Outdoors Poconos, a free hike series administered by Brodhead Watershed Association.
Photos by Carol Hillestad
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