Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bald Eagle State Forest (Union County)

Spruce Run Road is a few miles west of Kelly Crossroads, near West Milton. My initial goal was to check out Spruce Run Reservoir, but it turned out to be completely man made and basically looked like a big fishing pond, so my Dad and I just passed on it.

Heading west on Spruce Run Rd we entered the awesome 200,000 acre Bald Eagle State Forest which encompasses hundreds of mountainous square miles in Central PA. Shortly after we entered the forest, the road turned to a one lane dirt with conspicuous signs stating "No Winter Maintenance". I gave little thought to that for the road was in good condition.

Postcard Scene
A couple miles west on Spruce Run Rd we came to a little bridge crossing the road's namesake or the little Spruce Run Creek. Immediately after the bridge was a tiny shoulder big enough for one vehicle. The scene was just awe inspiring! It was as if we crossed into another zone for snow just appeared on everything, ranging from a dusting to several inches. Rocks and trees covered with moss, leaves and snow aligned the stream.

This is more then I imagined when I researched the area. On a topographical map, I typically look for accessible back roads with streams (water), and changing elevations. This combination trilogy can spell vistas, and mountain streams, hopefully with waterfalls. The Pennsylvania Gazetteer map book (DeLorme Pub.) showed Spruce Run Rd, a back road, and a parallel stream spanning a range of elevations which meandered to my ultimate destination of R.B. Winter State Park.

The snow zone which started at the bridge continued over the mountains all the way to R.B. Winter. It took long consideration to decide to persevere due to the packed snow conditions on the road, but the adventurers in us won. With a rapid pulse and AWD vehicle we trudged hundreds of feet up the hill which was no problem. I didn't really like the fact that we found an abandoned ditched 4WD truck and several scuff marks going over the shoulder in our slow motion journey.

The downward journey could be different. After about 30 minutes we had enough snowy roads and decided to take the next exit and only road (per the GPS) down the mountain to the SR192 highway. This was on the sunny side of the hill so it had numerous bare patches for traction which made the 2 mile route totally manageable.

Highway 192 was bare and an easy trip west to the next destination, R.B. Winter State Park.

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