North Park: Wildwood Mine Loop

North Park’s Wildwood Mine Loop is sure to keep even the most discriminating hiker entertained.  Color abounds on the trail regardless of season.  Trails within the loop allow for alterations in the path, making it possible to hike often with a different route back each time.

This four mile journey begins at the trailhead of the Rachel Carson Trail in Pie Traynor Field.  Instinct immediately draws your gaze up to take in the height of the surrounding trees.

Archaeological excavations from the summers of 1979 and 1980, unearthed many 2,000 year old artifacts along Rocky Dell Run.  Some of the items found included tool-sharpening debris, stone spears, arrow points, and pottery.  It is believed that the remains are from an Indian camp, dating as far back as 300 B.C.

Today, Rocky Dell is a beautiful hemlock-lined stream valley under a 16-foot rock overhang.

Remnants of an old picnic shelter lie along Rocky Dell Run.  The shelter dates back to the 1920s, when the park first opened.

 

Sections of the Rachel Carson Trail require stream crossings and strenuous effort.

The tricky ascent is rewarded with views of the stream below.

Odds are likely to yield an encounter with the deer that call the park home.

The Rachel Carson Trail deposits its hikers in front of the track of an active railroad. To follow the Wildwood Mine Loop, stay to the left of the track. To continue along the Rachel Carson Trail, veer towards the right. To be honest, we tried to follow the Rachel Carson Trail, but could not figure out where to go next after crossing the railroad as the blazes suggested.

Continuing on the Wildwood Mine Loop requires enduring a short period of awkward rocky footing.  I learned two tips for hiking this stretch of the trail:

#1: Walking on the outside wood of the track is far more comfortable.

#2: Apply sunscreen!  Although it’s only a short walk along the tracks, you are fully exposed.

Although this hike is categorized as moderate, it has many steep uphill climbs.  We would not recommend it to novices.

Finding the path here can be difficult as the trails are all unmarked and veer off in different directions.  A new way can be taken each time.

 

Trillium flourishes from April to May.  We have never seen such a high concentration of these heavenly flowers in one place!   Shhh!

The centerpiece of this hike is a broad grassy field reclaimed from local deep mining.

The 223-acre Wildwood Mine was sold in 1973.  A partially reclaimed coal mine waste pile remains.  A field of wildflowers and a sweeping panoramic view add interest.

After this point, the trail gets dicey!  A challenging climb will lead hikers uphill underneath power lines and past no trespassing signs.  More than once we questioned if we would ever see our beloved park again!

In addition to spectacular views of Wildwood Road and the Wildwood Highlands Family Fun Center, remnants from an old ski lift are visible.

Sandy Cliffs is another of North Park’s hidden treasures.  Although is not the normal path taken when hiking the Wildwood Mine Loop, there is a trail that connects the two. The Cliffs is popular spot for climbing and mountain biking.

For more information on hiking trails in North Park, see our previous post: https://hikinginpennsylvania.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/north-park/

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