Our Trail of the Month Highlight for October are the trails on the Countryside Conservancy’s Preserves! Log miles at any of the Preserves (Rowlands Preserve, Meadowsweet Preserve, Quarry Ridge Preserve, Messimer Preserve, Gardner Spencer Preserve, & Ziegler Preserve) to be entered into our giveaway! Miles must be dated from October 1- October 31 and logged at tailonthetrail.org.
Explore Undisturbed Nature at its Finest
The Conservancy’s Preserves work in partnership with Lackawanna State Park.
Nestled just beyond the borders of Lackawanna State Park are 6 quiet Preserves managed by the Countryside Conservancy. These mostly untouched tracts of wilderness are the perfect spot to find beautiful native plants, towering trees, and active wildlife.
The six preserves bordering Lackawanna State Park provide broader conservation, more connectivity, and additional ways to enter the park. Messimer, Gardner Spencer, and Ziegler Preserves are located at the northeastern end. Rowlands Preserve sits on the eastern edge. Both Meadowsweet and Quarry Ridge are at the southernmost end of the park.
Make sure to check out the Conservancy’s interactive map containing the location of these preserves and more details about parking. Some preserves can only be accessed through a trail within another preserve, so it is important to plan ahead and prepare for a longer hike if you want to explore several on the same trip!
Over 10 Miles of Peaceful Trails
Each preserve is unique in its natural environment. And visitors are encouraged to seek out many of the natural hidden gems.
The six preserves offer a combined total of 10+ miles of trails. Visitors enjoy hiking, trail running, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and even hunting. The dirt paths are single-track with rocks and roots, but they are easy to follow and can be navigated by novice hikers. The preserves are each named after either the family who worked with the Conservancy to preserve the land, or a prominent feature of the land that they protect.
The well-known Tunnel Vision path is located in Gardner Spencer Preserve. It features a grouping of mature trees that branch together to make a “tunnel” over the path. Rowlands and Gardner Spencer both have a machine-built single-track trail that is well-utilized by mountain bikers.
Overlooks are always a staple of any hike. Visit Quarry Ridge or Hannah’s High Point Vista at Rowlands (New and under construction) to experience a breathtaking view of the land. Whatever path you choose, take a moment of silence to enjoy the sound of the breeze moving through the vegetation, the color of the sun light shining through the leaves, and the sounds of wildlife that may be found throughout the park.
Don’t Miss Conservancy Events
The Conservancy also works to offer fun, educational events for visitors during the year. They work closely with Lackawanna State Park’s naturalist to co-host events such as plant/wildlife identification walks. They also host full moon paddles and hikes at the park, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing events as well as wildflower identification tours on the Trolley Trail. The Conservancy also plans an annual fundraiser in July and a Tailgate Picnic in September to thank members, invite new members, and to celebrate the end of summer.
Add a Little Extra Fun to Your Trail Adventure
Explore Rural Lackawanna County.
Given their remote location, there are many unique stops nearby that can turn your trail adventure into a full day trip. Don’t miss Manning’s Farm. This local staple offers ice cream made fresh from their dairy cows. The popular shop features tons of flavors to choose from! Take time to explore family-friendly stops like Roba Family Farms and Spring Hills Farm. for an educational experience or some fun!
And If you’ve left the kids at home, there are many places to find locally made alcoholic beverages. Grab beers at Last Minute Brewing. Pick up some hard cider at Last Leg Cidery. And, of course, you can’t forget the wine. Maiolatesi Wine Cellars offers a wide selection of Pennsylvania-made wines.
You can even stop by The Great Produce Experience Farm Stand and pick up some farm-fresh fruits and veggies.
Lend a Hand
Countryside Conservancy was established in 1994 by citizens concerned about the loss of distinctive features in our regional landscape in northeastern Pennsylvania. The non-profit organization works within Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties to preserve lands through cooperative agreements with landowners and through direct acquisition with funding from both public and private resources.
To date, the Conservancy has permanently protected nearly 2,000 acres of lands and waters in northeast Pennsylvania. Some lands have been protected through a private agreement with landowners, others through acquisition and ownership by the Conservancy. Lands owned by the Conservancy are open for public education and recreation.
The Conservancy is also working to turn the right-of-way of the former Northern Electric Trolley in Lackawanna and Wyoming counties into a non-motorized recreational trail. Volunteers make so much happen for the Conservancy. They plant trees, monitor stream water quality, build trails, plan our events, serve as Board members, and much more! Complete the form here to become a volunteer or call the office at (570) 945-6995 to find out more about volunteer opportunities.
Surface: Mostly forest floor with rocks and roots in some places.
Length: Over 10 miles of trails of varying lengths.
All six preserves border Lackawanna State Park and many of the trails connect to trails within the park. For more information on the preserves, or to find volunteer opportunities, visit the Countryside Conservancy website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.