If you have never experienced hiking into one of the few old growth forests left in Pennsylvania I highly suggest you put aside some time to do so!
I honestly don’t know that I can really even begin to put into words what it’s like. I will tell you this though, as funny as it might sound to some of you. The first thing you are going to notice while visiting one of these enchanted places is the feeling you get. It’s almost like the forest around you is communicating with you on some mystical, metaphysical level. Through this communication you become hyper aware of the significance and age of the world around you.
This forest has been around since practically the beginning time. It has witnessed the rise and fall of great American Indian Tribes. It gave shelter to some of our country’s earliest settlers. Then it somehow witnessed and survived the great industrial age that quite literally raped Pennsylvania of it’s natural resources and great forests.
Hiking into a forest like this you feel the history and even more important you feel it’s life. Becoming acutely aware that every single last inch of this place is a living, breathing organism.
Too those of you who are reading this and think that I am exaggerating any of this check out the research being done by Suzanne Simard of The University Of British Columbia.
Her and her teams research proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that trees communicate with each other via mycelium based neural networks. The communication goes beyond passing simple baseless information. Tree’s use these communication networks to ensure their survival. For instance if one tree in a network is injured, or is need of more nutrients than the other trees in the network, those other trees will intelligently pass the needed nutrients to that struggling tree to insure it’s survival. Even in death a large tree will continue passing nutrients out to the trees within it’s network AS NEEDED! That’s important, that indicates some level of intelligence.
So I personally am convinced that while in an old growth forest, these organism are able to communicate on some level with us. Though regardless of what I believe, or what you believe we as society only have to believe that these places are worth keeping and worth preserving. Not just the ancient forests of Pennsylvania either. Old growth forests around the world need to be saved and preserved. There is absolutely no excuse for any type of logging in these forests. But I digress!
If your looking to get in to one of Pennsylvania’s old growth forests two of the greatest forests to visit are Cook’s Forest State Park and Rickettes Glen State Park. These forests are just about on opposite sides of the state. One being out toward the State College area, while the other being out toward the Wilkes-Barre area. Both are magical places though and both offer camping and other activities year round if I’m not mistaken.
Cook’s Forest State Park is known for it’s gigantic Hemlocks, river activities and camping. You can also rent ATV’s, Canoes, or race go carts at one of the 2 tracks. If I’m not mistaken there is also a water park within the State Forest with water slides. It truly is an inclusive vacation destination. For more details on Cook’s Forest State Park check out the website here.
Ricketts Glen State Park on the hand is a bit smaller and more reserved. The real highlight of Ricketts Glen State Park though is it’s waterfalls! Here you will find at least a dozen of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful waterfalls and another dozen or so smaller falls. All within a 3 or 4 mile walking distance from one another! Ricketts Glen is truly a must visit mystical forest! You can find more information on Ricketts Glen State Park at the park’s website..
Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed my photography and post here. All of the photos found on this page were capture by me, Jeremy Hetrick at Ricketts Glen State Park. Unfortunately I have not been out to Cook’s Forest in very long time. In fact it’s been more than a decade, or so.