DCNR Undertakes Mountain Creek Watershed Trail Investments in Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger today announced that the DCNR is undertaking a project in Michaux State Forest in Cumberland County to construct a trail system that serves different types of users and protects water quality and vulnerable species and habitats.
“This project focuses on approximately 6,000 acres of Michaux around Mountain Creek, which is already very popular as an outdoor recreation destination, including hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding,” Shultzabarger said. “We are evaluating the current trail system in the watershed and intend to improve it so that it is a great experience for users, resilient to climate change and weather hazards such as flooding, and that it continues to be home to a diversity of plants and wildlife.
The Mountain Creek watershed area in the Michaux State Forest is a high quality watershed, which supports the natural reproduction of eastern brook trout and sensitive habitat areas for many species. of birds, reptiles and plants.
The area is roughly bounded by Woodrow and Cold Spring Roads on its west and east sides, respectively, and by Ridge Road and Pine Grove Road/Route 233 on its north and south sides. Already crisscrossed with trails, the area is a destination for mountain bikers.
“The next phase of the project later this year will be to engage with trail users and the public through a survey and online tools,” said Michelle Blevins, assistant district manager of Michaux. “We would like to know how they use the area, their ideas for improving the outdoor experience for all users and for protecting other values of the forest, including clean water and habitat for plants and wildlife. .”
Current trails in the Mountain Creek watershed have evolved over the past century from former logging or charcoal roads. An inventory of the area, including permitted and unauthorized trails and roads, was completed by the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at the University of Shippensburg.
Preliminary watershed research by the University of Harrisburg found that the impacts of stream crossings and unplanned trails include erosion, reduced biodiversity, and the spread of invasive species. Clearing vegetation for trails impacts sensitive plant sanctuaries.
Improvements being considered include trailheads and parking; a signaling plan that improves airworthiness and management; construction and rehabilitation of trails by managers and volunteers; and the elimination of unsustainable trails, including minimizing impacts to waterways and riparian areas.
Soon on Les Michaux, in a nearby section of the forest, a beginner to moderate stacked hiking/biking and parking/trailhead system and a parking/trailhead area called the Hearth Tender Trail will soon begin.
The project will consist of an access road and trailhead from Railroad Bed Road adjacent to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It will feature three different trail loops: a 3/4 and 1.4 mile beginner mountain bike loop, and a 4.1 mile beginner/moderate loop that will provide alternate access to the popular Pole Steeple view.
Key partners in the design of the project and the development of the proposed Hearth Tender Trail were the Mountain Bikers of Michaux, the Susquehanna Area Mountain Biking Association, and the Friends of Michaux.
Find more information on the Michaux national forest and its 2022 management activities (PDF) on the DCNR website.
MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Novak, 717-579-5177
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