The Butternut Trail

In celebration of National Trails Day on June 6th, NPC board member, Aaron Lewis, laced up his boots to take us on a virtual trek of the Butternut Trail in Worlds End State Park. Portions of the Butternut Trail traverse NPC’s Flynn acquisition. If you’ve never had the opportunity to hike this popular, loop trail, here’s a quick look at what you can expect!

Trickling brooks, a stately rock outcropping, and a wonderful view of the Loyalsock Creek can be found on the rigorous Butternut Trail Loop. Go after a rain event and expect the small trickles to transform into cascading streams.

Aaron Lewis, NPC Board Member and Forester with Dwight Lewis Lumber Company

The 2.5 mile Butternut Trail makes a circuitous loop through a northern hardwood forest. The trail originates shortly past the State Park Visitors Center on the east side of the Cabin Bridge. There’s a small parking lot on the left near the trailhead.

Now get ready to climb!  At first the trail is somewhat steep as it makes a quick ascent, but soon levels off and arrives at a split and the start of the loop.  The Upper Road to the left travels an old logging road.  The Lower Road to the right journeys parallel to and above the Loyalsock Creek.

Following the Lower Road, you’ll make a moderate incline into the woods, followed by a gradual decline to Butternut Run, a small, intermittent stream with numerous cascades.  Along the way you’ll pass several springs and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Loyalsock Creek.  When you reach Butternut Run, be prepared to cross on foot as there is no bridge.  As you’ll see below, the stream was slightly more than a trickle on Aaron’s hike, but after a heavy rain this section of the trail could be tricky!

Crossing over Butternut Run

After crossing the run, the trail ascends again, becoming rockier, and following steep switchbacks.  Enjoy the unique rock outcroppings and formations along the way!

At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the Loyalsock valley from Butternut Vista.  Worth the climb!

Butternut Vista

After soaking up your views from the top, complete the loop by following the orange blazes.  During this second half of the hike, you’ll cross back over a different section of Butternut Run, travel through several glades, passing more wildflowers and streams along the way!

Circled above, the Butternut Trail on the Worlds End State Park map.

In 1993, NPC purchased over 600 acres of prime forest land, forming the northern and eastern boundaries of Worlds End State Park. In addition to providing public access to this tract, the acquisition allowed creation of sections of the future Butternut Trail (the trail was established by longtime NPC member, Ruth Rode, after the acquisition), and helped conserve a mile of the Loyalsock Trail that would have had to be relocated if the land was not made publicly accessible.

The 600+ acres was transferred to the Bureau of Forestry and is now managed as part of the Loyalsock State Forest – ensuring that the thrill of hiking the Butternut Trail remains available for everyone to enjoy for years to come!

Aaron Lewis is a member of the NPC Board of Directors. He is currently a Forester with Dwight Lewis Lumber Company, and previously worked as a Forester with the
U. S. Forest Service. Aaron began at Penn State’s historic Mont Alto campus before graduating from the University Park campus with a degree in Forest Ecosystem Management. He has served on the Board of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and is currently on the Board of the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association. Residing in Hillsgrove, PA he is an outdoor recreation enthusiast, and enjoys hiking, paddling, and exploring the Pennsylvania wild.

September is Trails Month!

PA Trails Month – Butternut Trail

Butternut Vista at Worlds End State Park is on the Butternut Trail. The rocks, roots, and elevation change make this trail a little more difficult than “moderate.”

The trail traverses a property NPC purchased at an auction in the early 1990s. The property being sold adjoined Worlds End and the then Wyoming State Forest (now Loyalsock State Forest). A portion of the Loyalsock Trail (LT) is on the parcel.

This view from the Vista was taken in late April. Chilly, overcast spring days are great hiking weather!

One of the driving factors in NPC acquiring the property was concern about needing to re-route the LT.By acquiring the Flynn property, the LT could stay where it was, and additional hiking opportunities were opened up!

For more information on the Butternut Trail (and other trails at Worlds End) use the following link!…/WorldsEndSt…/Pages/Hiking.aspx

The Worlds End Challenge

Last year NPC had planned to lead a group hike on the Butternut Trail at Worlds End State Park to celebrate the 30th anniversary.  Portions of the Butternut Trail traverse NPC’s ‘Flynn’ partnered acquisition.  NPC purchased the ‘Flynn’ property, over 600 acres of prime forest land, in 1993 to form the northern and eastern boundaries of Worlds End State Park.  While planning the hike, we realized the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) was planning a similar hike on the same weekend as part of their Sullivan County Hikes and Bikers series:  The Worlds End Challenge.  So, naturally, we teamed up! 

Of course, the event was postponed last year due to COVID-19. Recently, EMHR reached out and asked if we’d lead the hike this year as part of The Worlds End Challenge. Their two-day event, May 22 – May 23, challenges hikers to visit every Worlds End State Park vista/overlook over the course of the weekend. 

Due to COVID-19 guidelines and current restrictions on EMHR/DCNR events, the event is limited to 50 people, so sign up fast! All guidelines, including masks and social distancing, will be applied where necessary.

Registration is $10. For more information and how to register, please visit:

Butternut Vista

For more information and how to register, please visit:

Changing of the Leaves

ButternutSome leaves begin changing in mid to late August, but as the season progresses into September more and more trees begin changing color. Among the first to change are black walnut and its close, but much less common, relative butternut (photo on the right). These species tend to set leaves late in the spring and lose their leaves early in the autumn but they grow rapidly nonetheless. The leaves of both species normally turn pale yellow or tan and fall soon after.
Black, yellow and white birch leaves (below) also normally turn color early in the fall and also become yellow, but a much brighter yellow than either walnut or butternut. In our area, black birch is Birch, Blackby far the most common of the birches, growing in both moist and dry sites and frequently seeding in on sites disturbed by logging or wind throw. Here, yellow birch is confined to cool moist sites, usually in deep valleys or high elevation wetlands. White birch is close to the southern limit of its rage in northcentral Pennsylvania where it is most commonly found as scattered individuals on ridgetops or where severe forest fires killed most other trees.

Happy Holidays from NPC…


Have a wonderful holiday season! As you celebrate with friends and family, and reflect on 2014 we wanted to share a few photos from 2014’s conservation easement stewardship visits, stream restoration projects, and the newest conservation easement. Enjoy the photos and your holiday! May you have a healthy and happy 2015!

Left column – top to bottom
June 19, 2014 – Robwood Mountain, located to the southeast of Towanda in Bradford County, is the location of a large property protected by a conservation easement held by NPC. During the monitoring visit I came upon the largest wild butternut I’ve ever seen. The tree was located in a deep hollow on the moist fertile soil that butternut prefers. Unfortunately, an apparently exotic fungus disease – butternut canker – that often girdles and kills the trees is heavily affecting butternut throughout its range. In most areas over 75% of butternut trees are infected and most infected trees die within 15 years.

Butternut is now considered “a species at risk” in the United States. Butternut wood has been a favorite of carvers and cabinetmakers and may soon be unavailable for commercial use. This tree on Robwood Mountain has a few small cankers and, unfortunately, may not be alive much longer.

April 17, 2014 –Fossil Farm Easement – In a plantation of young Norway spruce a kestrel was perched on the leader of the tallest spruce in the vicinity. While the landowner and I walked along the edge of the planting, it flew from spruce to spruce until finally circling around to land on a tree behind us. The tall grasses and goldenrod among the planted spruce provide excellent habitat for meadow voles that frequently girdle planted trees beneath winter snow – the kestrel protects those trees at no cost to the landowner by feeding on the voles.

May 13, 2014 – Carl Barlett, recently retired NPC Board member, and I inspected the Oak Meadow Farm easement on a gray rainy morning. As we walked up the lane a large bird perched in a tree overhanging the lane caught our eye. At first I thought it was a red-tailed hawk, but the camera’s telephoto lens revealed it to be a mature bald eagle. A few steps to bring us closer caused the bird to spread its wing and take flight – right over our heads. There’s a pond on the property and other ponds nearby; still it was not the kind of place an eagle would normally be found.
Middle column – top to bottom
August 6, 2014 – Today’s Field Tour on Turtle Creek was a success! Over 100 people, mostly Amish and Mennonite attended. Many of the farmers brought their sons and daughters along, so we were able to educate the current land managers, and start educating the future land managers.

July 15, 2014 – NPC’s summer intern Lilly went with me to inspect the Dickey Farm conservation easement. The property is partially cropland, but is primarily forested. As we walked along a woods road we flushed a fledgling wood thrush from a patch of fern. The young bird flew up to land on a branch in a nearby tree. Wood thrush are forest interior birds, dependent on fairly large parcels of undisturbed forest. They build their nests on limbs of understory trees, usually less than ten feet above the ground. Wood thrushes migrate to Mexico and Central America where they spend the winter.

Pennsylvania’s wood thrush population seems to have declined by more than 25% since the 1980s, probably due to habitat loss from development and forest fragmentation. NPC’s conservation easements’ forests help to protect the forest habitat needed by forest interior birds like wood thrush.

May 20, 2014 – Pinkster azalea is a native shrub that brightens portions of northcentral Pennsylvania’s woodlands each spring. Unfortunately, it can be heavily browsed by white-tailed deer, so its pink blossoms are becoming increasingly scarce. The Morgan Valley Road easement is blessed with a number of these shrubs, most in the wooded stonerows separating fields or on the border of field and forest. One large pinkster was graced by a tiger swallowtail butterfly that flew from flower to flower feeding on the nectar it found in the flowers’ corolla.
September 4, 2014 – The Scott easement is the property where I usually see a host of purple trillium; but they bloom in May and this year’s inspection was much too late for blooming trilliums. September is the time when beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana) bloom and the forest had a lot of beechdrops in bloom. Beechdrops are flowering plants without chlorophyll in their tiny scale-like leaves and therefore aren’t green. Instead of manufacturing their own food they’re parasitic on the roots of beech trees, but do not harm the trees. The small inconspicuous flowers of beechdrops are normally off-white with a red lengthwise stripe – but on this day, along a woods road, grew a yellow beechdrops plant. In 50 years of wandering the forests, never before have I seen a yellow beechdrops.

Right column – top to bottom
October 9, 2014 – In southwest Bradford County the Shedden conservation easement borders Towanda Creek. Not far north of the property the Tennessee natural gas pipeline right-of-way has been widened to accommodate a second pipeline used to transport gas extracted from the Marcellus shale. Widening the right-of-way impacted a number of wetlands and those impacts had to be mitigated to Corps of Engineers’ standards. The mitigation contractor contacted the easement landowner and NPC about installing a riparian buffer on the conserved property as part of the mitigation project. After review NPC agreed that installing a riparian buffer of trees and shrubs on the previously pastured bank of Towanda Creek would help to improve the stream’s water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Earlier this year the plantings were completed and today’s inspection showed that survival of the plantings was very good.

November 18, 2014 – As NPC’s Technical Committee was evaluating the John F. Logue property we came upon a large straight tree with a long fresh scar from top to root. The tree was a black cherry, typically the most valuable species in a woodland dominated by a northern hardwood forest (usually called beech-birch-maple). The scar was caused by a lightning strike from a passing thunderstorm. Tree species vary in their susceptibility to being struck by lightning with black cherry being near the top of the list as is Pennsylvania’s state tree – eastern hemlock. The committee also discussed the large grape vine in the tree’s top. Many people think that grapes climb high into the tree tops. However that’s not the case: the grape and the tree both start out together as seedlings. Over the years, as the tree grows taller the grape vine keeps pace and can maintain its position in the tree’s top. Eventually as the grape vine get heavier and/or its leaves shade the tree excessively the tree may die either from breaking under the weight or, unable to produce enough sugars and starches, die from too much shade
April 17, 2014 – The Fossil Farm Easement was named for the outcrop of fossiliferous rock at its highest point. But there are other interesting features on the property – The dam of an abandoned beaver pond still holds back some water and there a green heron was foraging. As we watched it repeatedly lunged at prey, catching a small fish and other things too small to identify.