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Archive for the 'Rail Trails' Category

Susquehanna Warrior Trail

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

On Sunday, I decided to check out another local rail trail, the Susquehanna Warrior Trail. I’ve been wanting to explore this trail since we saw it on our return trip from Indiana back in March, and later, found its Web site. I found conflicting information online, but I expected the trail to be 10-16 miles, one way. I had to drive about 20 minutes to reach this trail. It’s within biking distance, but there’s no good way to get there by bicycle that I could see. Here’s a map of my ride.


View Susquehanna Warrior Trail 06/28/2009 in a larger map

I parked by the Garden Drive-In movie theater near West Nanticoke, PA, and got ready to ride. There were some rather ominous clouds, so I braced myself for possible rain.

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The trail runs between US Route 11 (a fairly busy highway), and the Susquehanna River. At times, it runs right alongside the road, but at times, it goes into the woods and closer to the river. I was hoping for some nice river views.

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The scenery from the trail varies but can be generalized as similar to many scenes here in Pennsylvania: a strange combination of run-down industrial buildings and wonderful mountains. It’s sad and beautiful, all at the same time.

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The wildflowers were in full effect.

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UGI Power Plant

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Some less-than-friendly signs had me wondering if this was a safe area. First were the STAY ON TRAIL. KEEP MOVING signs. (Why?)

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This strange sign reads, “Stay On Trail / Keep Moving”

Next, we have, thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the S.C.I. Retreat (medium security correctional institution).

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Pennsylvania Department of Corrections – S.C.I. Retreat

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Bridge to the “retreat”

And finally, a firing range.

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Firing Range – Keep Out

Views of the river were few and far between. I’m sure there would be some nice views during winter or early spring, when the leaves are off the trees. I did enjoy some nice wooded areas and clearings.

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After a while, I reached the town of Shickshinny. This is a small, run-down town. I arrived and caught a glimpse of a military funeral, just in time to have the 21-gun salute startle me. Around this time, it started raining.

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Soon, I came to the PPL Riverlands Park. I had only gone 7 or 8 miles at this point. I saw a small trail down to the river and rode down to look around.

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I got back on the Susquehanna Warrior Trail, but reached an impasse in just a couple of minutes. The trail continued, but it was waterlogged. I rode a little bit to see if it would dry out. No such luck.

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Not convinced the trail ended here, I rode around a bit on some gravel roads until I reached US Route 11. I rode down the road to a bridge to see if the Susquehanna Warrior Trail continued beyond the bridge. I could see the trail below, but it was in worse shape than the last section I looked at. Alas. I took in some nice views before heading back.

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I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get to ride as many miles as I’d hoped. And I just wasn’t that impressed with the trail. There were a few beautiful areas, but most of it was nothing special. It started raining harder, so I put the camera away for a while … until I took a side road I discovered to a boating access point that was very pretty.

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It was an enjoyable ride, and the rail-trail provided a pleasant way of riding some easy miles. But I only got to ride a little over 17 miles. I was hoping for closer to 25. Was it worth driving to this trail? Yes, it was worthwhile to ride it once, but I’m not sure I need to do it again.

Bunker Hill and Schooley

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I did a ride that’s becoming one of my usual routes. I go up Bunker Hill Road and down the other side, then take Carverton to 8th to Mt. Zion for some more climbing. Then down Schooley Road and finally back on the West Side Trail. Here’s a map.


View Bunker Hill and Schooley 06/23/2009 in a larger map

Even though this ride is becoming fairly routine, the scenery is constantly evolving. I was surprised how many wonderful wildflowers I saw during this ride. In Indiana, May is prime wildflower time — but here, the flowers seem relatively inactive until June.

I saw quite a few Tiger Lillies, which are Sarah’s favorite flower, but didn’t get any particularly interesting photos of them.  They are lovely.

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Heading toward Bunker Hill

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My favorite view from Bunker Hill Road grows more and more green and vibrant

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A patch of wildflowers enhances the view

I hadn’t ridden in probably a week. We spent part of last week, and last weekend, on the road and in Bloomington, getting an apartment lined up. The Bunker Hill climb was harder than usual.

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A neighboring ridge, as seen from Carverton Road

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Carverton Road

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Wildflowers

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Closeup

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Frances Slocum Lake

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Some nice landscaping by the lake

As I was climbing on Mount Zion Road, I saw some absolutely beautiful clustered flowers. Some were pink/purple and the others were white. My handy wildflower book let me down a little bit here. My best guess based on the book is that these are some kind of Beardtongues, but nothing in the book quite matched what I saw. Any help identifying these would be appreciated. In some of the photos, you can see a little hair inside the flowers.

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Mt. Zion Road

I rode over to Schooley Road, took a few photos and then made the awesome descent down the mountain. I’m a little less than pleased with the way my new brake pads are working out. I have used the salmon Kool Stop pads quite a bit in the past, but on this bike they feel too squishy. I think these pads may be shorter than the black Kool Stops I had on there before, and that might contribute to the problem. Anyway, I went slower than usual since my braking power is not quite ideal.

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I rode over to the West Side Trail and took it most of the way home. It’s weird to go from climbing a mountain, to making a blistering descent down it, to riding on the perfectly flat roads in the valley, and then this trail. The feel of the ride goes from gueling to intense to a walk in the park in very little time.

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The Back Mountain Trail in spring

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Well, spring is finally in full effect here. I think we’re going to have a shorter spring than I’m used to. Back in Bloomington, Indiana, spring lasts a long time — trees and flowers bloom in stages, for weeks. Here, we’ve seen some things blooming but many trees flowered for a day or two and then turned green. And I’m just not seeing as much spring color around here.

That said, I love spring. Especially now — since we moved to PA in October, we have never seen this place green. It sure feels like things have been dead and dreary for a long time. So I glad to finally see things coming to life.

Here are a few shots from the Back Mountain Trail from a ride I did last week. It sure looked different than it has in past rides.

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