Monday, May 23, 2022

Jenkins Woods - A Hidden Gem Of Natural Splendor In Monroe County

Tucked away in the resort community of Buck Hill Falls is Jenkins Woods, a hidden gem of natural splendor.

Walking along one of its trails and suddenly the world of cellphones, internet and news alerts is left behind, partly because getting a signal here is spotty at best, but also because you’ll want to end your screen time and enjoy a rare glimpse of this privately owned forest.

Jenkins Woods, 125 acres of one of the last stands of old-growth forest in the Poconos, has been protected by conservation easements secured by the Buck Hill Conservation Foundation since 1998.

The woods, which are the namesake of the past presidents of the Buck Hill Falls Company, Howard M. Jenkins and Charles F. Jenkins, were dedicated in 1951 and rededicated by the foundation in 2001.

Buck Hill, a resort and home community that traces its founding to 1901, once featured the palatial 400-room Inn at Buck Hill Falls. The stone structure fell victim to an arson fire and was ultimately demolished in 2016 but Buck Hill continues to operate with homes and amenities, such as a golf course, pools, a clubhouse and multiple trails.

Though the trails and woods are closed to the public, more than three dozen people were recently able to go for a hike through Jenkins Woods courtesy of the Brodhead Watershed Association’s “Get Outdoors Poconos” program, which is supported by a William Penn Foundation grant. 

To the uninitiated, it’s easy to overlook some of the forest’s unique features.

Alex Jackson, the BWA’s executive director, points to an oak tree. 

He takes note of the convoluted branches in the canopy, some of which are at 90-degree angles. It’s not uncommon in old-growth forests to see branches regrow like that after they’ve been broken by ice storms or other severe-weather events, Jackson said. 

“It creates a very wild look,” he said. “The age of these trees – these guys are well over 100 years old.”

Those with a keen eye can also spot numerals attached to certain trees, which are identified in a guide. No. 1, for instance, is a red oak, No. 12 is a black tupelo and No. 14 is a sugar maple. 

Among other things, Jenkins Woods offer an excellent habitat for local and migratory birds. It serves as a stopping ground for those birds making their way north and an attractive place for local birds to nest.

One of the featured attractions of Jenkins Woods is Buck Hill Falls, which is actually made up of three waterfalls. The lower one is a mesmerizing cascade falling 34 feet into a pool. 

But as impressive as that is, the upper and middle falls really are show-stoppers. 

To access the upper falls, climb a set of stone steps – careful, hold onto the handrail because the steps are a little wet – to a viewing platform. 

Water in the upper and middle falls drop a total of 56 feet, first into a pool, then through a narrow chute and then into a bend before taking a smaller drop. The roar from the torrent fills your ears and makes you appreciate the power of water.

Jackson, who described the falls as one of the finest in the Poconos, said they get their start in groundwater that seeps along the 800-foot escarpment face of Chestnut Mountain and from bogs and fens (a type of wetland) on top of the Pocono Plateau.

A zig-zag series of stairs that rises about 50 feet and was built by the Buck Hill Falls Company with money it gained from the conservation foundation’s payments afford visitors a spectacular view of the falls.

Another waterway, Buck Hill Creek, is a tributary to Brodhead Creek in the Delaware River basin. Buck Hill Creek is designated by the state Department of Environmental Protection as “exceptional value,” the highest ranking awarded to waterways based on their overall health. 

That’s noteworthy because the creek ultimately feeds the Delaware River, which is the source of drinking water for more than 15 million people, Jackson said.

Near the upper falls, Jackson points to a hemlock tree, the upper portion of which is sheared off, leaving a sizeable trunk but no canopy. Rhododendrons sprout from the top of the tree, almost like hair plugs. 

It’s an example of how the old-growth forest of Jenkins Woods is covered with “nurse logs,” from which new plants and trees can germinate, Jackson explained. 

The Buck Hill Conservation Foundation was formed nearly 30 years ago in response to a threat to nearby Chestnut Mountain, an old-growth forest that was being targeted for logging by a private owner, said Rick Mittereder, a foundation trustee. 

In a nearly 20-year effort that the foundation describes as its “largest and most ambitious project undertaken to date,” the foundation ultimately acquired the mountain for preservation. 

The foundation later secured conservation easements on a total of 500 acres of nearby Spruce and Middle Mountains, creating an expansive preserve, permanently protected for posterity.

Arranging For A Visit

For those who did not get a chance to hike Jenkins Woods with the BWA but are interested in visiting, take note: The grounds are private and are only accessible by appointment and accompanied by a guide. 

To arrange a visit, call the Buck Hill Falls Company offices at 570-595-7511.

For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website or Follow them on FacebookClick Here to sign up for regular updates from the Association.  Click Here to become a member.

[Act NOW! People Need Clean Water, Parks, Protection From Flooding

[The time is NOW to start contacting your state House and Senate members to tell them to set aside at least $500 million from federal American Rescue Fund monies the state already has to support watershed restoration, farm conservation, mine reclamation, protection from flooding, recreation, State Park and Forest safety and maintenance projects.

[Click Here to learn more, take action.]

[Posted: May 23, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner