It was supposed to be a business park.
Nothing against business parks, but what became of the 2,200 acres on Moosic Mountain is really a Northeastern Pennsylvania treasure. The Dick and Nancy Eales Nature Preserve is a spectacular hunk of land that’s home to a bunch of trails and some of the coolest terrain you will find in these parts. According to a sign near the dirt parking lot off Route 247 in Jessup, the mountain is home to “one of the largest intact heath barrens communities in North America … comprised of stunted pine and oak forest dominated by huckleberry, blueberry and other low-lying shrubs.”
Also true, you need to check it out.
I headed up there this week with a goal of seeing a lot of the property. I’ve said before we have a ton of cool spots like this in our area and it seems that a lot of people don’t know about them or they seem underused. That might be true of this property as well but I posted a photo from the hike on Instagram, and based on the number of people that commented or messaged me, I can say my friends sure as heck know it’s there.
Either way, the place is incredibly accessible, the elevation is gentle and the variety is really hard to believe.
Here’s a link to a map of its location and below is a photo of the trail map.
From the parking lot, we hit the first trail we could find and that was the Blueberry Trail. Much of the trail has a gentle elevation gain and is wide open with views overlooking Jessup and the valley. The Wayne County wind farm is also visible from the highest parts of the trail. Like the sign at the start said, we were surrounded by low-lying vegetation and has the added bonus of giving you views for miles as you walk.
After a couple of miles, we hooked up with the Water Fall Loop. That’s kind of a misnomer. There is a small stream that runs through this area, but if you are expecting waterfalls, you might be disappointed. It’s a beautiful section though, and instead of the open fields, you’re surrounded by hardwoods and trails that are more typical of this area. The trail is mostly dirt, rocks and roots. No surprise there.
Off the Water Fall Trail there is a small loop called the White Birches Trail. If you have time, take this one. It eventually hooks back up with the Water Fall Loop and is a nice side trail and worth exploring. I should mention that the trail system is well-marked for the most part and the blazes on the trees and rocks match the colors on the map at the start of the trail. I’d suggest grabbing your phone and taking a picture of the trail map before you go. It will be helpful in planning and double-checking your location. Trails intersect often. The White Birches loop is at the farthest end of the preserve. So from there we started heading back. The Water Fall Loop will drop you back off on a wide trail with power lines. It’s a short walk up a pretty steep slope until you find the Stonehedge Trail entrance. This will start leading you back toward the parking lot, but there is still a lot to see before you get there.
I was wondering about the trail names because they seem a little random at times but this one makes sense. The Stonehedge Trail has some giant rocks, taller than me. I told you the terrain is varied and this was just another example. It seemed like every there was a different trail marker, there was also different terrain. Walking along Stonehedge there was a trail I wasn’t expecting. It’s called The View Trail. How do you not take something like that, right? This one is appropriately named, offering huge views of the valley. The path is almost one large rock at times. Pretty cool stuff. In some spots, the blazes you become accustomed to disappear and are replaced with cairns, really just piles of rocks that are built to show you the path. Unfortunately, it can also be a little confusing because some visitors decided to build random cairns that are not really on the trail and if you’re not paying attention can take a wrong turn. (You’re not going to get lost by any stretch but it’s just something to note.
I didn’t see a ton of wildlife. There was a toad, and some of the other usual suspects. There was a pretty good-sized snake on the View Trail. First, I have no idea what kind he was, other than he was not a rattlesnake and he was pretty courteous. He gave me a heads up that he was there with a loud hiss when I was about five yards away from him. I appreciated that because I didn’t want him under my Altras. I saw him, took a couple of quick steps back to figure out what I was dealing with before he slithered back into the brush. I’ll be honest, I watched him pretty carefully as he left. I wanted to see his tail because he was pretty big and I was hoping to be able to tell what he was. I imagine it was just a milk snake or something like that. He didn’t look like he had missed a lot of meals.
From there, we hooked back up with the Stonehedge Trail before hopping on the Conglomerate Trail (Yes, that’s really the name) and then grabbing the Bruised Ego trail that headed back to the parking lot.
I really can’t say enough good things about this piece of property. Dick and Nancy Eales deserve a big thank you as supporters of The Nature Conservancy for their work in securing this property for us to enjoy.
In all, it looks like the hike was 8 or 9 miles, but the really nice thing about this property is you can cater your hike to pretty much any length you like. So go check it out. I know I’ll be back often.