PA State Parks: Summer Edition

I haven’t been hiking since February and the last camping trip I’d taken was in November.

My life has been filled with days of website design, client projects, marketing, and sales development lead lists, and the overwhelm in trying to figure out how to find calm while dealing with grief, depression, and living life all at the same time.

My business, a journey that began two years ago, takes most of my time and I find it hard to get out of my house, much less traveling to parks, and hiking for hours, as I did a few years ago.

My recommitment to the Pennsylvania State Park Challenge I’d set for myself at the beginning of the year led me to book a camping trip for the FOURTH time at Hickory Run State Park.

The first time, it rained.
The second time, I was too afraid to go alone after a nightmare of a breakup.

The third time, I got COVID.

This time, I went. Afraid, but I went anyway.

Hickory Run State Park

The 15,990-acre Hickory Run State Park, Carbon County, lies in the western foothills of the Pocono Mountains. I took a drive to explore the different trails and found myself most interested in the other parks nearby since I’d hiked at Hickory Run a few times before. What I did enjoy was the campground. Although it is a bit of a maze, I would recommend finding a spot early, as the site gets really full as summer is in full swing.

My favorite part about this park was the beach at Sand Spring Lake, where I found myself sitting on my blanket, reading, and then taking my new floating chair into the lake where I floated to the corner of the swim area, away from the kids, noise, and people, and found a bit of calm, just at the edge, by the ropes.

Frances Slocum State Park

I headed to Frances Slocum State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County on Saturday.

The horseshoe-shaped, 165-acre lake is popular for boating and fishing and is home to many species of birds, fish, and wildlife. Numerous hiking and mountain biking trails and the large day-use area attract visitors to picnic and explore the forests.

Walking the Lakeshore Trail, I enjoyed the sounds of birds, small critters, and the water. Luckily, I was mostly alone, with a few occasions of waving to passersby.

Nescopeck State Park

On another Lakeside Trail, I had a picnic lunch before exploring Nescopeck State Park. A slight rain kept me cool as I walked around the lake admiring the reflections. I kept it simple. Hiking for me now was more about the journey, not trying to hike ten miles (as at one time in my life was a goal).

Bordered on the south by steep Mount Yeager and on the north by Nescopeck Mountain, the 3,550-acre Nescopeck State Park encompasses wetlands, rich forests, and many diverse habitats. Nescopeck Creek, a favorite of anglers, meanders through the park. Hiking trails follow the creek, pass through quiet forests, and skirt wetlands. The beauty and solitude that I experienced allowed me to feel a sense of calm and gratitude for making this trip.

Lehigh Gorge State Park

Lehigh Gorge State Park, in Luzerne and Carbon counties in eastern Pennsylvania, follows the Lehigh River from the outlet of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Francis E. Walter Dam at the northern end to the town of Jim Thorpe at the southern end of the park.

This area has a special place in my heart as I spent many days in this area in 2019 as I trained to become a river rafting guide. I wrote about this in a story for Travel Pulse, which you can view here.

My experiences that summer gave me courage, strength, and determination to forge my own path, and have led me to where I am today. I wish I could tap into that strength now, and maybe I can.

My visit here was short, as I just walked along the stream for a bit, and didn’t make the trip down to the Leigh Gorge Trail, which follows more than 20 miles of the D&L Trail, which I’d hiked in 2019.

I’m excited to continue my adventures this summer and grateful to be able to take the time, challenge myself, and continue to build a relationship with myself as I get to spend so much time loving myself in this way.


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