Along a series of three reservoirs in central Pennsylvania is a beautiful, well-maintained hiking trail. The main trail is nearly flat and makes for a pretty easy ~16-mile hike. There are some trail offshoots that go up the mountain and down to the reservoirs below.

We parked at the main trailhead about an hour after dawn, immediately took a wrong turn, and ended up at the bottom of the reservoir spillway in a marsh. After climbing back up, we took another offshoot and reached the bank of the Shamokin Reservoir.

The spillway we found the bottom of

There wasn’t quite as much color on the surrounding mountains as I was hoping for. Most of the deciduous trees in the coal region are getting a late start this year, but around the reservoir, there was plenty of greenery.

green bush along the hiking trail offshoot

Walking up the trail to the next body of water, we saw a significant amount of destruction and deforestation running along the path. The company in charge of the reservoirs, Aqua Pennsylvania, recently installed a new waterline. I hope they put forth some effort to rejuvenate the area. As is, there’s an obvious thirty foot wide swath of construction zone running parallel to the hiking trail. It’s not as noticeable on the trail offshoots, but it does impact the main hiking trail’s natural views.

A few miles into the trail, we took another offshoot down to the creek that runs between reservoirs. On the way down, I very nearly stepped on a tiny, 1-inch long salamander! At first, I thought it was a plastic toy, but then it moved. After grabbing the extension tubes for some macro photos, we encouraged him off the trail and into the safety of the underbrush.

little orange salamander on the hiking trail
Bright little salamander, enjoying the morning

We reached the creek soon after meeting Señor Salamander and found a surprising number of downed trees. With quarantines, furloughs, and the general state of things, it seems like the DCNR folks haven’t yet had time to clean up this section of trail. We carefully made our way around, avoiding the fallen trees, and found the creek with incredibly clear, refreshing-looking water, complete with a little bridge across to the other side.

hiking trail bridge across creek
Thought about taking a swim. Decided against it.

This was a great spot to enjoy for awhile, so we took our time here. Once we started walking back, we heard falling water coming from above the creek, so naturally we had to check it out. We’d found a wonderful little seasonal stream, filled with rainwater from the mountain above and feeding into the creek below. It had a few tiny waterfalls making all the noise. It was just large enough to jump over, so I naturally had to.

small seasonal creek
Freezing cold, clear water

We started walking back up to the main trail. By this point in the hike, we’d reached mid-morning, and the trail was starting to get busy. We decided to head back to the car, have a bite, and head over to the secondary trailhead to avoid the crowds.

If anything, this side of the hiking trail was even busier. We grabbed a quiet spot near the shore of Kline’s Reservoir to try for some wildlife photos. There was a family of geese enjoying the water with the kayaks and canoes.

family of geese
Soft lens makes for soft photos.

There wasn’t much wildlife, but more than enough people, so in the interest of social distancing, we called it a day. I’m hoping to come back to this area for some astrophotography some night with a new moon, if the weather will cooperate – clear skies are few and far between in the Pennsylvania spring.

forest creek
That big rock in the foreground is the one I used to jump over the stream

Roaring Creek Trail is only about 20 minutes away from Centralia and practically right next to Knoebel’s Amusement Park, making it a great part of a day trip.