The Trail of the Month for April is the Yellow and Green Loop at Natural Lands Bear Creek Preserve! Log your miles on TailontheTrail.org at location “Bear Creek Preserve” from April 1 through April 30 for the chance to win a prize!
Gear up for our D&L 165 Challenge beginning May 1st! Log 165 miles on any trail from May 1st through November 12th to earn a Tail on the Trail swag prize! All participants who complete this challenge will receive the swag and are encouraged to share their photos on social media with #GetYourTailontheTrail
A Spring Hike Along the Natural Lands Bear Creek Preserve
Enjoy wildlife and waterfalls on a scenic hike in the forest.
Nestled in the heart of a lush forest in Bear Creek lies a serene nature preserve full of diverse, sensitive habitats and opportunities for adventure. The Natural Lands Bear Creek Preserve is the perfect place for a peaceful hike to usher in Spring.
Established in 2006, the Bear Creek Preserve is a favorite of all who visit, and it will quickly become yours, too! With its striking features and diverse array of habitats, the preserve offers something new to see through every month of the year. Before you go, please note that the Preserve is closed Mondays for maintenance, an important day of rest that sustains the Preserve in its beautiful, seemingly untouched state.
The rocky, dirt trails for the yellow and green loop begin near the Preserve Center and take you 3 miles through the Preserve and back to where you started. The main parking lot is located off Rt 115 on Rabbit Run Lane and often fills up fast on warm, sunny days. From here, follow the colored trail markers up the main road to find this unassuming trailhead on your right. The trail blazes are extremely easy to follow, but make sure to take along a map in case you want to extend your hike or explore!
As you step onto the winding trail that cuts through the noticeably diverse habitats, a sense of wonder will overtake you. The Green Trail will first guide you through wetlands and a boulder-rich forest habitat. Keep an eye out for the many species that call the Preserve home, including deer, bear, small mammals like the endangered flying squirrel, and reptiles as the weather improves. The dense woodlands of Bear Creek Preserve also offer a refuge for a myriad of birds, including several designated as species of special concern by the state. Listen for an avian serenade from Scarlet Tanagers, Veeries, Indigo Buntings, Ovenbirds, and at least a half-dozen types of warblers.
In Spring, look out for the blooming mountain laurel, the state shrub of Pennsylvania. The showy flowers of this evergreen shrub overwhelm the trail with brilliant bursts of white, pink, and red. Take a deep breath as you head through one of the Mountain Laurel “tunnels” and smell the flowery perfume that represents the essence of the Preserve!
After your saunter through the wetlands, the green trail will take you past scenic waterfalls. These spots offer a great opportunity for a snack break or a pause to appreciate the serenity of the Preserve. Just beyond the waterfall, the trail will fork onto the Yellow Trail and lead you to a scenic overlook of the valley below. Beneath your feet are more trails demonstrating the expansiveness of the Preserve.
The spot is also a great opportunity to bring out your binoculars and try to spot some of the birds mentioned previously or one of the many species of birds of prey like eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and more! The parking lot is just a short jaunt from this final overlook, so make sure you really take in the Preserve and all its beauty for as long as you want.
You likely won’t be ready for your adventure to be over after your 3-mile hike, but luckily the Bear Creek Preserve offers nearly 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness with about 10 miles of trails. Eagles nest in the Preserve, especially along the Lehigh River, and Ospreys can be found in the grassy floodplains near the neighboring Francis E. Walter Dam. The Preserve also contains three streams—Shades Creek, Bear Creek, and Stony Run— all classified as “high quality, cold water fisheries,” with crystal clear water and abundant native fish species. Whatever route you choose, you are guaranteed to be wowed by the vibrant flora, towering trees, and the cooling breeze from the abundance of streams.
Not only is this Preserve perfect for enjoying the natural beauty of NEPA, but you’re also close by a lot of great dining options! Our favorite way to start a day hike at the Bear Creek Preserve is to stop for brunch at the Bear Creek Café. This cozy staple offers up amazing food, coffee, and a cute gift shop with all the things you didn’t know you needed!
If you’re less of a brunch person, but you are ready for dinner after your long hike, the Bear Creek Inn is another staple with some delicious food and interesting history. Check out their website to learn more about the history of this establishment (including the operation of a speakeasy by the original owners!) and to see their daily menu and party venue.
For a casual, family experience, fill up with comfort food at Cosenza’s Pizza and Restaurant. Not only do they offer all of your favorites, but they also offer BINGO events for adults and kids! After you’re satisfied with dinner, don’t forget to fill your “dessert stomach” at Pamela’s Ice Cream in the summertime!
If you are looking for a fun event for the whole family, Natural Lands has no shortage of opportunities. The organization hosts more than 300 events annually across Eastern PA and Southern New Jersey! A few big ones coming up include the Buds & Suds Native Plant Sale on May 16th and the Music Without Walls series on May 20th, July 14th, and October 7th! Keep up to date with all upcoming events by visiting the calendar on their website and subscribing to the Natural Lands newsletter! Interested folks can also give a few hours at several volunteer events throughout the year, or make a deeper, ongoing commitment through the Force of Nature® volunteer program.
Established in 1953, Natural Lands is the oldest and largest regional land conservation organization in eastern PA and southern New Jersey. Natural Lands is a non-profit organization that saves open space, cares for nature, and connects people to the outdoors. Today, nearly five million people live within five miles of lands under Natural Lands permanent protection.
Thank you to Kirsten Werner, Natural Lands Senior Director of Communications, for supporting this month’s blog!
Length: 3 Miles
Surface: Dirt, rock, forest trail
The Green and Yellow Loops at the Natural Lands Bear Creek Preserve wind through lush forests, along waterfalls and around active wetlands. Keep an eye out for wildlife, blooming plant life, majestic birds of prey and more.
Featured Image (Top) Courtesy of Natural Lands Bear Creek Preserve.