Boardwalk trail opens at Darling Preserve
August 27, 2014 —
A new 2.2-mile trail and boardwalk were dedicated earlier this month, providing easy public access to a 2,500-acre tract of special Pennsylvania property known as the Thomas Darling Nature Preserve at Two Mile Run, pieced together over time and through partnerships.
“River Talk” readers will find it worth the roughly one-hour of travel time from the Upper Delaware region to the Monroe County parcel, where they can explore an extensive mosaic of glacial wetlands hosting at least two rare plant species (bog sedge and creeping snowberry) among one of the state’s largest native spruce forests.
The preserve is named in honor of self-taught naturalist Thomas Darling, Jr., a native of Wilkes-Barre who identified and catalogued plants in the area throughout his life, beginning in the early 1900s.
Emerging from underground springs and seeps, Two Mile Run feeds into Tobyhanna Creek, and eventually into the Lehigh River as it traverses the Preserve. Acidic soils support a thriving community of sheep laurel, bog laurel, viburnum shrubs, blueberries, balsam fir and tamarack. Its shrub swamps, fens, bogs and moist meadows are blanketed in deep green mounds of sphagnum moss.
Visitors can encounter bird species such as barred owls, ospreys, black-billed cuckoo and scarlet tanager, as well as wildlife species like black bears, Eastern coyotes, river otters and snowshoe hares.
The new trail is a sterling example of cooperative partnerships for public benefit. The Nature Conservancy, The Wildlands Conservancy, Tobyhanna Township and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources assembled the substantial parcel, which today provides protected habitat for a wide variety of species in addition to groundwater filtration.
Local scouts, AmeriCorps volunteers, students in The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program and a local contractor all helped to establish the boardwalk trail. A neighboring corporation, KISS Inc., enabled trail access on the northern side of the preserve; and ESSA Bank & Trust Foundation provided funding, as it did a decade ago for TNC’s Tannersville Cranberry Bog Preserve.