Elk Country and the NPC Legacy

Each year thousands of people make the trip to Elk Country – home to the largest free-roaming elk herd in the northeastern United States – for the opportunity to catch sight of this magnificent animal in its natural habitat. Located in the northcentral region of Pennsylvania, as many as 1,400 elk roam wild across 3,000 square miles.

Photo credit: Tim Holladay

One of the most popular times of year to view the elk is during the “fall rut,” which typically begins in September and carries through October.  Keep your eyes and ears open during this time, for a chance to see bull elk locking antlers as they compete for a mate or hear the distinct “elk bugle” mating call!  The area also boasts several world class visitor and education centers, an abundance of other wildlife viewing opportunities, and a 127-mile scenic drive that loops through Elk Country.  Visit PA Wilds to help plan your trip and learn to be ELK SMART to help preserve the wild nature of the herd during your visit!

Elk History in PA

Eastern elk once roamed freely throughout their native Pennsylvania range.  However, colonization and unregulated hunting wiped out the native herd by the mid-1800s.  In 1913, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) began reintroducing elk imported from the western United States into the Pennsylvania wild.  Since then, PGC, along with other state agencies and organizations – including the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy – have worked to help conserve and protect the elk and their habitat.

NPC and Partners Expand Elk Habitat in Clinton County 

By the late 1990’s, NPC was on the cusp of its 10th anniversary and was a testament for what the power of partnerships and community-driven conservation efforts could achieve.  So, when a large parcel of land on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the Sproul State Forest District was rumored for sale, NPC and the community rallied! 

You see, for generations, the community had accessed the land for hiking, hunting and picnicking; and feared private purchase would cut them off from the land they loved.  While at the same time, the PGC was searching for areas to expand the elk herd’s conserved habitat.

Partnerships formed quickly between NPC, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. At a West Keating Township meeting, NPC worked with the community to understand their needs. The heirs of the over 4,000 acres agreed to sell the property for conservation. Additionally, contributions came from large foundations, as well as sportsmen’s groups and individual donors. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources awarded funding through the Keystone Fund and the land was purchased!

In the end, 1,110 acres of new state forest was secured with public access to the river, and 3,330 acres of new elk habitat and hunting ground created as State Game Lands 321.

This piece of the NPC legacy, known as the Kelly-New Garden project, not only helped restore the elk herd to what it is today, but also ensured that these awe-inspiring animals will have a habitat to roam wild in Pennsylvania for generations yet to come. 

Underfoot: Pokeweed & Blue Chicory

By: Susan Sprout

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-NotsGoldthread & Wild GingerCommon Mullein & Sweet WoodruffAniseroot & Butterfly WeedMyself Jewelweed & SoapwortAmerican Pennyroyal & Great Lobelia, Boneset & Common Ragweed.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed’s four to eight foot height and large sprawling shape call attention to this native perennial plant.

Young pokeweed plant.
Long cluster of pokeweed.

Common from New England to Florida and westward to Mexico, it grows in many waste places, fields, and even pops up in gardens, thanks to the birds who eat its purplish-black berries and deposit seeds here and there.

BEWARE! These berries and the whole plant itself is toxic to most mammals, including us! Youngsters and oldsters alike may be attracted by the berries. What fun to squish them and decorate faces and arms and legs with the magenta-colored juice! DON’T! The poison contained in the berries, leaves, stems, and roots can be absorbed by the skin. Ingested, it can cause respiratory paralysis and death. Through the years, people have used Pokeweed for food, medicine, ink, and dye. Use of it for any of these things today requires an expert.

On a positive note, Pokeweed’s toxins are being studied as a way to control zebra mussels, the invasive non-native mollusk species that has invaded freshwater rivers and lakes in North America.

Ripening poke berries. Beware! These berries and the whole plant itself is toxic to most mammals, including us!

Blue Chicory

Chicory may go unnoticed growing along paths and roadways, especially on cloudy days or early evenings when its sky blue flowers have closed up. It is so common, it is overlooked and not given its proper respect! Many guess it is a native plant and are surprised to find out it originated in Eurasia and North Africa. The Egyptians grew it 5000 years ago. It was used as medicine, salad greens, and pot herbs by the colonists who brought it with them. It has been here so long, it has become naturalized…sort of like the colonists!

Look for the larger, toothed leaves toward the bottom of this perennial; they resemble dandelion leaves. As the stem grows, leaf sizes diminish toward the top, resulting in a naked-stem appearance. The blooms have petals with squared and toothed outer edges. They grow straight out of the sturdy stems and at the ends of short, stiff branches.

Chicory has had many uses throughout its history…sweetener, source of dietary fiber, coffee substitute and enhancement, food, medicine. It also has anti-parasitic properties when used as forage for farm animals. Quite a few varieties of our common chicory plant have been created over the centuries. Have you eaten radicchio in a salad lately? Surprise! It’s a variety of our common Blue Chicory!

Blue chicory along the roadside.

Click here to get to know Susan Sprout!

Underfoot: Boneset & Common Ragweed

By: Susan Sprout

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-NotsGoldthread & Wild GingerCommon Mullein & Sweet WoodruffAniseroot & Butterfly WeedMyself , Jewelweed & Soapwort, American Pennyroyal & Great Lobelia.

Boneset
Boneset or Thoroughwort is a native perennial plant standing about 60 inches tall. It can be found growing in moist areas from Canada to Florida, and west to Texas and North Dakota. With a flat-topped cluster of 15 to 20 florets of white feathery blossoms at the top of its hairy stem, it may resemble a lot of plants blooming now. But, one of the totally cool things about Boneset is its long, lance-shaped leaves, a characteristic reflected in its species name perfoliatum. Leaves on the opposite sides of the stem grow together so the stem looks like it has pierced through them…perfoliate…through the leaves!

Boneset blossoms

This was a very important identifying feature for Native Americans and others who used the plant medicinally for severe body aches, coughs, and fevers. If they gathered another plant closely resembling Boneset, but lacking perfoliate leaves, it could be toxic and poisonous.

One toxic plant strongly resembling Boneset, except for its leaves, is White Snake Root which affects cows eating it with “trembles” and the people drinking their milk with milk sickness, the poisoning that killed Nancy Hanks Lincoln and a lot of other early settlers.

Boneset plant showing perfoliate leaves.

Boneset actually got its common name from the Breakbone Fever that ravaged the country during the 19th and 20th centuries. A bitter brew made of the dried leaves and flowers provided effective relief from the intense pain likened to that of a broken bone.

Today, we know this virus as causing Dengue fever, spread by female mosquitos. Modern medical research verifies chemicals in Boneset strengthen the immune system, interfering with viral replication, and protecting cells from virus infection. 


Common Ragweed
Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their… aaahh-choo…noses!

This time of year, one hay fever culprit that puts on a nasal assault is our native plant, Ragweed. During its blooming season, one plant can disperse a billion grains of pollen into the air. The pollen is very light and can travel hundreds of miles into areas without the plant. This seems unlikely because Ragweed is found in every state and Canada. It was introduced to Europe about 100 years ago and has resulted in the allergic desensitization of the European population. (Well, they gave us burdock!)

Small ragweed plant before bloom.

Learn what blooming ragweed looks like so you can recognize its inconspicuous greenish flowers before they send out pollen! The highest pollen levels are shortly after dawn in rural areas and peak between 10 and 3 in urban areas. Goldenrod species get blamed for most of the pollen problems because they are so obviously blooming with their gorgeous yellow flowers all over the landscape. But, ragweed pollen carries one of the strongest allergens internally and is coated with cone-shaped needles externally. Once in your nose, they penetrate and hang on!

Learn to recognize ragweed in bloom by its greenish flowers, before they send out pollen!
Urban ragweed – not a good plant for gardens!

Goldenrod pollen is round, smooth, and dispersed by rainfall, so it doesn’t travel far. If you are in the 10 – 20 percent of people who suffer from Ragweed allergies, you may want to check your property for the plant. Look for its toothed leaves low to the ground or a mature plant over three feet tall. Wear a mask when you cut it down. Gloves and social distancing may be appropriate, too, as it can cause contact dermatitis!

Click here to get to know Susan Sprout!

Underfoot: American Pennyroyal & Great Lobelia

By: Susan Sprout

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-NotsGoldthread & Wild GingerCommon Mullein & Sweet WoodruffAniseroot & Butterfly WeedMyself , Jewelweed & Soapwort.

American Pennyroyal

American Pennyroyal is a native plant that is a member of the mint family. European Pennyroyal, an offering of local garden centers and occasional escapee from flower beds, is a low-growing perennial that likes a more moist environment than its taller American cousin.

Although different species from different continents, these two mints share many common characteristics like square stems and opposite leaves, chemical properties, and similar uses.

Pennyroyal seeds spread along walkways make fragrant entrances.

Our Pennyroyal stands about a foot tall and has small lance-shaped leaves with tiny bluish, two-lipped flowers each having three teeth above and two below. The blooms appear randomly from July to September in the axils of the leaves where they attach to the stems.

Once identified, this plant is a nasal treat… if you like pungent, minty aromas. I love to find this plant growing in dry fields and woods so I can run my hand up over its leaves and inhale! Mmm. And so much better, if you happen to be attacked by gnats and their ilk, just rub a hand over your exposed skin to transfer the essential oils to keep them at bay. This super insect repellent works on fleas, too. Grab a handful and rub down your cat or dog!

Great Lobelia

I look for the bright blue flowers of this stout native perennial in the mid to late summer like some folks search out bluebells in springtime! When looking at Great Lobelia’s individual flowers in their showy spikes, they appear to have two erect ears above and a triple-divided lower lip with a solid whitish landing strip for their chief pollinators, the bumblebees.

The two top and three bottom petals are actually lobes attached to the flower’s tube which is split on top so that a rod consisting of the stamens joined around the style can protrude downward to brush against the pollinators. This unique split of the flower tube, according to botanists, was the next step in plant evolution toward composite flowers with their disk and ray florets.

The scientific name of this plant, Lobelia siphilitica, hints at one of its former medicinal uses as treatment for syphilis. Many Native Americans used the ground-up root as a poultice for wounds and infections. Its sticky juice is considered toxic for internal use.

Click here to get to know Susan Sprout!

Underfoot: Jewelweed & Soapwort

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-NotsGoldthread & Wild GingerCommon Mullein & Sweet WoodruffAniseroot & Butterfly Weed, Myself .

Jewelweed
A pale yellow earring on a thin wire dangling under light green leaves. That may be an apt description of a pale jewelweed blossom during the summer and right up until the first frost. This native annual reproduces solely from seed each spring, breaking ground close together and just about all at once. Its two larger succulent leaves stand out brightly against the winter duff.

Jewelweed seedlings

Then the juicy stems filled with watery sap begin to grow. Coarsely-toothed leaves covered with microscopic hairs that hold beads of rainwater like jewels pop out alternately along the stems.

Jewelweed young plant

Soon the lovely pendulous flowers appear: yellow for pale jewelweed and orange-spotted for spotted jewelweed. Both species occur in our area, liking wet woods and meadows.

Jewelweed blossom

Now the fun begins. The fertilized flowers morph into bumpy pods – AND – when they are ready, just a breeze or a slight finger tap on them will release the seeds and throw them a good four feet from the parent plant. That is where this plant’s other common name comes from: Touch me not. But do, please! What fun to touch all of the pods and create a seed storm.

Help plant a lot of jewelweed because this is a great plant for squishing up the stems and leaves, then slathering that sap on itchy nettle stings and poison ivy!

Jewelweed seed pod

Soapwort
Soapwort is a plant brought to this country from Western Asia and Europe, having been in use there probably back to the Assyrians. A member of the Pink Family, it is a perennial that likes moist but well-drained soil and spreads by underground stems. I always find this plant growing along Muncy Creek at the Rocks. Easily recognizable by smooth stems thickened at its nodes where the leaves grow, its scalloped five-petaled flowers can be white to light pink.

You may know Soapwort by another name, Bouncing Bet, the old name for a washerwoman whose whole upper torso would move up and down as she scrubbed clothes on a washboard probably using this plant! Why? It contains saponins, substances that produce soapy lather.

Soapwort lather

It was a must that textile workers would use for cleaning newly woven cloth, especially wool. A gentle astringent cleaner can be made by boiling the leaves and roots to extract the saponins. Museums have used this for cleaning old and delicate tapestries. I like to grind the stems and leaves on a wet rock, adding a little water before squeezing out the bubbly suds. A great trick if you’ve gotten into poison ivy on your walk. Use soapwort to thoroughly clean the essential oils of the poison from your skin. No worries…the green washes off!

Susan Sprout is a retired school teacher who continued teaching after retirement at Montour Preserve helping teachers of  handicapped students with nature walks, at the National Shell Museum as a curator of the fossil collection, and as teacher of Shell Studies at the local school on Sanibel Island. Based on her love and study of plants, she does living history presentations of medicinal plants used by Native Americans, colonial immigrants, and people living during the Civil War. Both she and her husband, Richard, serve as cannoneers  with Thompson’s Independent Battery C PA Light Artillery.  Sue has served on the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy board in the past. The Sprouts have been Conservancy members for 29 years.

Underfoot: Myself!

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-NotsGoldthread & Wild GingerCommon Mullein & Sweet Woodruff, Aniseroot & Butterfly Weed

Myself!
“Underfoot” is a name that I thought would be a catchy title for the descriptions of local plants I would write about…those we see as we take walks or hikes, eyes down. Recently, lying on a hammock and looking up, I suddenly realized that I was actually “underfoot” like those plants I love to write about; at least in perspective of the thick-trunked giant maple tree towering over me.

Seeing those huge leaf-adorned limbs growing out at amazing angles, I began thinking of the many ways we, as well as other critters and plants, benefit from trees: creation of shade, habitat, buffers, edge, scaffolds, drip line, food, medicine, warmth, energy, oxygen, water vapor. Even in death, standing or lying, trees provide many of the same benefits to others. I have learned many good lessons from trees. Thank you for everything, trees!

Susan Sprout is a retired school teacher who continued teaching after retirement at Montour Preserve helping teachers of  handicapped students with nature walks, at the National Shell Museum as a curator of the fossil collection, and as teacher of Shell Studies at the local school on Sanibel Island. Based on her love and study of plants, she does living history presentations of medicinal plants used by Native Americans, colonial immigrants, and people living during the Civil War. Both she and her husband, Richard, serve as cannoneers  with Thompson’s Independent Battery C PA Light Artillery.  Sue has served on the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy board in the past. The Sprouts have been Conservancy members for 29 years.

Underfoot: Aniseroot & Butterfly Weed

By: Susan Sprout

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-Nots, Goldthread & Wild Ginger, Common Mullein & Sweet Woodruff

Aniseroot
Aniseroot is a member of the Parsley Family whose common name refers to its lovely “black jelly bean” scented root. Lacking sufficient sugar, colonial-era cooks used the chopped root to add sweetness to their pies and tart fruit recipes. Mmmm, yummy! The three-times compound leaves carry the scent as well as the seeds. People used to use the essential oil of the seeds as a furniture polish.

This plant is an early bloomer with sparse clusters of tiny five-petaled flowers that are long gone by now. Why do I tell about Aniseroot now?
It is all about the seeds! When this plant has mature seeds on it, the seed heads stand out at the top of the plant like antennae, waving their long, thin, canoe-shaped seeds to get your attention. That makes Aniseroot easily recognizable during the summer. Check them out when you walk through rich woods and along streams. Smell a crushed leaf for proof positive. A close relative, Sweet Cicely, is very similar in looks, but lacks scented leaves.

Aniseroot seeds

Butterfly Weed (or Pleurisy Root)
The root of this stunning native plant was once officially recognized as a medicine for pleurisy and included in the United States Pharmacopoeia. Its bright red-orange blossoms can be seen from summer into mid-fall; so look for a flash of its bright flowers out across a dry field or wild pasture. They really stand out. A member of the milkweed family, this plant may lack the gooey, white sap of its other relatives, but it sure does attract lots of butterflies!

Standing about three feet tall, its stiff, alternate leaves look like smooth spear points. The long, narrow pods that follow the flowers will split when dry to release many seeds carried on the wind by silky parachutes. Historically, cave dwellers in Arkansas, mound builders in Ohio, and Iroquois tribes of the northeast have all used butterfly weed stem fibers for making cords and other textiles. It has a wide distribution…must be the silky parachutes! Plant some in your garden. The butterflies will love you.

Susan Sprout is a retired school teacher who continued teaching after retirement at Montour Preserve helping teachers of  handicapped students with nature walks, at the National Shell Museum as a curator of the fossil collection, and as teacher of Shell Studies at the local school on Sanibel Island. Based on her love and study of plants, she does living history presentations of medicinal plants used by Native Americans, colonial immigrants, and people living during the Civil War. Both she and her husband, Richard, serve as cannoneers  with Thompson’s Independent Battery C PA Light Artillery.  Sue has served on the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy board in the past. The Sprouts have been Conservancy members for 29 years.

Underfoot: Common Mullein & Sweet Woodruff

By: Susan Sprout

Find out what’s underfoot with NPC member and environmental educator, Susan Sprout! Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-Nots, Goldthread & Wild Ginger.

Common Mullein
Common mullein is a member of the snapdragon family and native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. It is a biennial plant that starts its first year of life underfoot as a rosette of very downy leaves. Another common name for it is flannel plant.

In the second year of its life, it puts up a flower spike of amazing proportions, reaching heights of eight feet or more. You may have seen them growing along the highway. They do stand out. You really cannot misidentify this plant. I wanted to write about mullein because it is such an interesting plant that I brought home seeds for in my gardens. Wow! Are they prolific!

And with so many uses: dried stalks for tapers or torches, flowers in oil for earaches, leaves rubbed on cheeks for rouge or made into medicinal teas or smoking mixtures or poultices. If your feet get sore hiking, the leaves even make soothing insoles for shoes!

Sweet woodruff
Sweet woodruff is a low-growing surprise package! In its shady, woodland niche, this almost insignificant, perennial ground cover may grab your attention in May or June with its small four-pointed white flowers like stars against a green sky. Its leaves whorl around its square stem in groups of six to ten. Although the leaves look shiny and smooth, if you have a magnifier with you on your walk, you can detect very tiny prickly hairs on them.

Woodruff is a member of the Gallium genus along with cleavers and bedstraws that have much bigger and pricklier demeanors. Gently pull off a sprig, hold it in your warm hand, and then sniff the wonderfully unexpected aroma of new-mown hay. Placed somewhere to dry, its scent will increase. I like to put it on the dashboard of my vehicle. The chemical compound responsible is coumarin. Sweet woodruff has been used for perfumery, stuffing mattresses, and more importantly, for flavoring May wine!

Susan Sprout is a retired school teacher who continued teaching after retirement at Montour Preserve helping teachers of  handicapped students with nature walks, at the National Shell Museum as a curator of the fossil collection, and as teacher of Shell Studies at the local school on Sanibel Island. Based on her love and study of plants, she does living history presentations of medicinal plants used by Native Americans, colonial immigrants, and people living during the Civil War. Both she and her husband, Richard, serve as cannoneers  with Thompson’s Independent Battery C PA Light Artillery.  Sue has served on the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy board in the past. The Sprouts have been Conservancy members for 29 years.

NPC Conserves 112 Acres adjacent to Loyalsock State Forest

As the highest bidder at a recent public auction, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) conserved 112 acres adjacent to the Loyalsock State Forest. The property includes steep, forested hillsides, a trout stream, and a rocky cliff along Loyalsock Creek.

This newly conserved land is almost directly across from where Little Bear Road (and Little Bear Creek) intersects with Route 87, and includes part of Bar Bottom Hollow.  Bar Bottom is a Class A, naturally reproducing trout stream. The stream is somewhere between 2.3 and 2.9 miles long (depending on your informational source).  The property’s portion of Bar Bottom almost levels out and traverses a flat before entering the ‘Sock.  Sharing a boundary with the Loyalsock State Forest, a series of waterfalls can be found on the portion of the stream already on State Forest Land.  Eventually, the property will become a part of the State Forest system.

Bar Bottom, a Class A, naturally reproducing trout stream, winds through the conserved lands. (Photo Credit: Ellen Shultzabarger)

During initial project talks between NPC and the Bureau of Forestry, NPC also discussed the possible acquisition with people involved with the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, Lycoming Audubon, and the Loyalsock Creek Men’s Club.

NPC Executive Director, Renee’ Carey, stated, “All those groups were supportive and the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited threw their support in too. We reached out to individuals familiar with the property’s location who live in the “neighborhood” or spend a lot of time in the “neighborhood.” Everyone we spoke to was hopeful the property could become part of the State Forest system.”

The Loyalsock Creek, looking downstream from the property’s edge.
(Photo credit: Ellen Shultzabarger)

Similar to their work on the Cavanaugh Access acquisition, this was another situation where the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy was asked to act quickly.  One of the reasons NPC is able to respond to these opportunities so rapidly, is because of the support of their members.  Having unrestricted funds allows NPC to do quick legwork to explore ideas as they arise.

NPC would like to thank their members for their ongoing support, and a posthumous thanks to Alfred and Helen Buck, whose donations formed the land acquisition fund that allows NPC to take on these exciting, new projects!

In addition to this 112 acres of newly conserved land, NPC has conserved 6,300 acres across the Northcentral Pennsylvania region, that are now under ownership with the Bureau of Forestry, Pennsylvania Game Commission, local government, or other conservation organizations. NPC also holds 47 conservation easements and 1 facade easement on over 4,735 acres. Learn more about NPC Conserved Lands. 

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.