Each month, the Northeast PA chapter will share a Trail of the Month to explore. Log miles at the Howland Preserve this August for a chance to win a $50 REI gift card. Share your photos on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #NEPA165 to enter.
This Nature Preserve Is a Gem in Wyoming County
This month, we’re exploring the scenic forests and farmland along the Vista Trail at the Howland Preserve near Tunkhannock. Designed specifically for intermediate hikers and mountain bikers, the Vista Trail is a loop that rewards you with the most spectacular views at the preserve. Named for a small outcropping that’s part of neighboring Camp Lackawanna’s property, the Vista Trail overlooks the Grist Flats in Mehoopany. Together, the preserve and camp create nearly 1,000 acres of contiguous preserved green space on the Vosburg Neck, one of the largest oxbows of the Susquehanna River.
The Vista Trail ventures through old farmland that was clear-cut as early as the 1930s. You’ll encounter a breathtaking spruce and pine stand, miles of immigrant-built stone walls and an old township road that used to cut to the middle of Vosburg Neck from Route 87. During spring, dozens of dogwood trees and several vernal pools dazzle trailgoers.
You can access the Vista Trail off of Vosburg Road near the Preserve’s parking lot. Future plans to include an access road will make it a 3-mile loop. Until then, you can extend your hike or ride by continuing on the preserve’s other connected trails. You can also paddle down the Susquehanna from the hand-launch boat access for kayaks and canoes. When your trail day is done, taste some local libations at Nimble Hill Winery and Brewery in nearby Tunkhannock!
Now, for all you runners out there, the Howland Preserve Trail Race is a wonderful way to experience the majesty of autumn in Wyoming County. The five-mile race is excellent for someone interested in trail running for the first time. This year’s race is slated for Saturday, October 16th. Registration is currently open, and you can check out past photos and results online.
Since the preserve’s trails are so secluded and tranquil, it’s an ideal place for quiet time in nature by yourself or with friends and family. Amidst the forests and farms, you’ll see remnants of the North Branch Canal and a railroad bed, as well as an 18th century cemetery. With all these sights to behold, it’s no wonder Howland Preserve is a popular wedding venue and spot for reunions, graduation parties and picnics. In addition to private events, the preserve has hosted art, nature and yoga camps for youth and art shows for Tunkhannock Area School District.
So who makes all this magic happen? The Friends of Howland Preserve, Inc. (FoHP) and the North Branch Land Trust (NBLT), that’s who! FoHP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that partners with NBLT, the landowner, to preserve the natural beauty, historic structures and conservation value of the 669-acre preserve. Powered 100% by volunteers since 2016, FoHP maintains the property for the benefit of the public and raises funds to enhance the preserve and its trails, river access and architecture. To join FoHP’s mighty stewardship crew; learn how you can assist with tasks like painting, trail construction, weed whacking, invasive species removal, fundraising, and more; or attend an upcoming volunteer event, visit their website.
Length: 2.25 miles
Surface: Mostly single-track covered by forest shade with mowed grassy paths at access points
Accessibility: Hilly terrain, designed for intermediate hikers and mountain bikers. Check out other flatter and shorter trails at Howland Preserve for beginners and individuals with mobility limitations.
Regional trail connections: Camp Lackawanna Trails