It’s almost time to hike the Goeringer Preserve again. It was about this time last year I found this beautiful maidenhair fern there, and the shores are covered with enough wild cranberries to feed an army.
This is a piece I wrote for the Citizens’ Voice when I first explored the preserve.
By Bob Quarteroni
It is so beautiful around here that we are the only valley in the nation to have a state named after us.
That’s right, the state of Wyoming is named for the Wyoming Valley. U.S. Representative James Ashley of Ohio proposed the name in 1865, having been born in Pennsylvania and familiar with our Valley with A Heart.
Its beauty has been praised everywhere. In 1904, Henry William Elson in the “History of the United States of America,” had this to say.
“In northern Pennsylvania, there lies a beautiful valley, nestled between two mountain ranges that rise high on either side, as if nature had chosen to guard the lovely spot from the outer world. This valley of Wyoming, watered by the sparkling Susquehanna that winds among the hills like a belt of silver, seems from a distant view like a dream of Eden…..”
So we are blessed with beauty, both in the Valley proper and in the emerald lands that surround it on all sides. Our bounty of beauty doesn’t stop at the valley’s hills, but blesses our entire region.
We are also blessed with a surprising number of nature preserves and retreats that are not all that well known to the public.
To correct that deficiency, a series on our preserves and sanctuaries will appear in the Citizens’ Voice on an intermittent basis. We hope you enjoy the trip.
HARRY AND MARY GOERINGER PRESERVE
One of our hidden gems is the Harry and Mary Goeringer Preserve, off Hollenback Road near Penn Lake
It’s 390 acres of oak heath forest, characterized by well-drained, acidic soils, lots of oaks and plants of the heath family: huckleberry, heath, heather, trailing arbutus, etc
The preserve hosts a globally rare, endangered plant – not named here to insure its protection — and bird species such as scarlet tanagers, hermit thrush and rose breasted grosbeak.
The preserve is open to the public for passive outdoor recreation such as hiking, birdwatching and photography. Hunting is also allowed. The Nature Conservancy does not allow trapping at this preserve.
Fishing is also allowed on one of the jewels of the preserve, Wright Creek.
According to the Nature Conservancy, Wright Creek is “An exceptional stream, along which one can find atypical vernal pools which serve as nurseries for frogs and salamanders.” It also contains a fair population of wild brook trout.
To reach the Preserve, access Hollenback Road from Bear Creek Road at the second entrance to Penn Lake, traveling toward White Haven.
Proceed on the road until the houses stop and the paving ends. In about a mile you’ll see a small parking area on the left and a signboard. To reach the start of the trail, you need to walk up the road a few hundreds yards to the trailhead on the left.
There you will find a flattish hiking/ biking trail following an old railroad bed. An isolated lake – surrounded by enormous mats of wild cranberry — is one of the highlights of the trail. It crosses the preserve’s border and stops approximately one-quarter mile from the Black Diamond Trail. The land between the two is private and heavily posted.
The Black Diamond Trail is a 10- mile stretch from Middleburg Road near White Haven to Route 437 just below Glen Summit in Mountain Top.
the land comprising the preserve was originally used as an “ice lake” for sending blocks of ice to Philadelphia. Today, it connects with parcels owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, the Natural Lands Trust, and the Wildlands Conservancy to extend a corridor of protected lands from Nescopeck State Park all the way to 6,400 acres protected at Bear Creek.
The Preserve is named for Harry and Mary Goeringer, who established the surrounding community of Penn Lake Park in the late 1930’s. The Goeringers’ daughter, Carolyn Goeringer Basler, sold much of the remaining undeveloped lands to The Nature Conservancy at what was termed “a bargain price” in 2012.
At its 2013 dedication, Ellen Lott, a project manager at The Nature Conservancy, said, “Because Mrs. Basler sold it at half the market value, we are naming it in honor of her parents.