Although the title is a bit tongue in cheek, it really did feel like it on our recent day jaunt to Susquehannock State Park, positioned on the banks of the Susquehanna river, in southeastern PA. The Susquehanna river, which is 464 miles long, extends well into Pennsylvania and New York and empties into the Chesapeake bay in Maryland. Although I rarely thought about the Susquehanna river, I have probably encountered it more in some way or another than I have the Atlantic Ocean. For instance, driving across PA back when I went to school in Pittsburgh, I would often see signs on the PA turnpike talking about the Chesapeake bay watershed; immediately after I would mumble “we are nowhere near there!” But in retrospect, not only the river itself, but all of the tributaries and farms in central PA will drain, eventually, into the Chesapeake Bay and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean.
With this in mind, I thought it would be a great idea to go slightly upstream of where the Susquehanna drains into the Chesapeake bay and see what was what. Of course, Morgan and Zelda the dog would come along for the adventure. We set off around 9am, with an estimated drive time of about an hour and a half. Concrete jungle and highway eventually turned into rolling plains of farms and winding roads with white knuckles and paws. The weather was holding slightly, with drizzle and overcast, temperature in the upper 30s. One of the downsides of this park is that it really takes some persistence to get to (and a GPS) because it really is in the middle of nowhere, with no roads bigger than two-lane roads for 50% of the drive, but the scenery was certainly captivating.
Arriving at the park, we quickly realized we were the only ones here, with no other cars in sight. We parked in what seemed like the middle of the park in front of the restrooms, which were open, surprisingly. At the information shack, which is pretty standard at most PA-state parks we picked up a map (Susquehannock Park Map) and loosely decided on a hike, making sure to include the observation area to look over the Susquehanna river. We would head north to pick up the rhododendron trail, which skirts the edge of the park, passing along the wissler run creek and terminates basically at the observation point. Then follow the landis trail along the southern rim of the park and loop back to the car, overall a pretty easy hike with a bit of elevation change.
We started our counter-clockwise loop, abruptly descending through patches of rhododendrons and jagged, loose rocks. We met up with wisler creek, and hugged the
stream with constant changes in elevation, although nothing too heart pounding. We arrived at the look-out point to the sight of the Susquehanna river, the fog hanging low over the seemingly still river. One blemish was the giant power station located adjacent to the river, it’s hum audible even to us at about 2 miles away. All in all, the scene was spectacular. The thought of all the small tributaries feeding into such a large and magnificent river reminds you of how important and connected our environment is. It’s times like these that I remember the reasons I enjoy hiking and how fortunate I am to be able to experience these moments.
Further along, we came to a second observation area, with a much larger vantage. These views face south, downriver and there were some information plaques talking about the various islands. Behind this observation area, there were picnic tables and BBQ pits, no doubt used frequently during the warmer summer days. There were also more bathrooms, although neither of us checked to see if they were open.
We made our way back to the car through a quiet path along the southern edge of the park, with little elevation change. Getting back into the car, we were surprisingly dry and the dog was still as bouncy as ever. We set our sights for home, getting back before the sun set. A good day overall.