By Bob Quarteroni
The math is elegant and simple: Take Seven Tubs, add three trails and what do you have?
A perfect 10.
That’s correct, says Nicholas Lylo, Pinchot State Forest district forester, who oversees the Seven Tubs State Forest Recreation Area, the name given to the Rt. 115 jewel when ownership was transferred from Luzerne Country to the Bureau of Forestry.
The Bureau is part of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and “is the overseer of the Seven Tubs,” which is part of the expansive 50,000-acre Pinchot State Forest, Lylo said.
Innovative partnerships between governmental entities, non-profit organizations and forward-looking commercial enterprises has led to vastly enhanced outdoor recreational opportunities. Topping that list are three Tubs trails.
Trails are nicely sized at small, medium, and spectacular.
“We have a small quarter-mile trail that starts at the foot bridge, it loops around the seven tubs and is ideal for viewing. The trail was degraded, so we entered into a multi-year partnership with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. Stone steps have been put in place and other improvements made,” Lylo said.
The Audubon trail intersects with the loop trail, is 1.5 miles long and travels upstream along Laurel Run to the property boundary.
But the daddy of them all is a work in progress and the Seven Tubs is an integral part of that.
The Delaware & Lehigh Trail, part of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, will be a 165-mile continuous trail when it’s completed in 2020, running from Bristol, near Philadelphia, to Wilkes-Barre, primarily using the Lehigh Canal towpath and the old Lehigh Valley Railroad bed.
Most of the pieces of the puzzle are in place, and the Tubs is a very important one.
Rylan Coker, land protection and stewardship coordinator for the North Branch Land Trust, said the Tubs land “is not considered part of the D&L Trail but is a connector. People will be able to access the trail via old Bear Creek Boulevard (Wilkes-Barre Boulevard) by a trail that goes up the hill to the rail bed.”
On the other end, the trail will have a terminus on Northampton St., he said, adding that “The folks with the D&L National Heritage Corridor are studying ways to connect from there to downtown Wilkes-Barre.”
Coker said NBLT is excited to be part of the development of the final few sections of the D&L trail.
“With that said, our roughly 6.5-mile section going from Oliver Mills around the mountain via the Tubs to Laurel Run is in its infancy of design and engineering,” he said by email.
“Once our section of trail — which will be handicap accessible crushed gravel – is complete, we have an understanding that the Bureau of Forestry will take ownership and management of it,” Coker said.”
And one last broken puzzle piece has been repaired.
As thousands of hikers know, a washed-out bridge made exploring the old road perilous. As Eastcoasthiker.com said, “You will walk past a barrier and over a semi-treacherous collapsed bridge.”
That’s changed now that PP&L has installed a temporary bridge.
“To my understanding this will be replaced by PPL next year with a permanent bridge, all in the name of utility access,” Coker said. “But we are grateful the public will be able to use it too!.”
And one more piece of very good news. For the last year plus there has been a gate closing the road to the bridge and old boulevard and a sign warning “Area Closed to Public: No Pedestrian Foot Traffic.”
Lylo said that was necessary when PPL was working on the bridge “and using a lot of heavy equipment. That was done for public safety. During the work day we were required to have flag men, gate keepers and signs there for public safety.
“Now that the construction is over, we’ll have to look into (removing the gate and signs) because if there’s no work there’s no safety issue and people should be able to walk there.”