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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

We're staying in an RV campground in Adamstown, Pennsylvania.  Looking around for hiking opportunities, we found Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, only 10 miles away in Kleinfeltersville.  The 6,254-acre refuge, created in 1973, is home to pheasants, deer, bluebirds, cottontails, and thousands of ducks, geese, swans and other wading birds that make this a stop on their spring and fall migrations.

The refuge has a beautiful visitor center, of a design to blend with the local environment:

The visitor center boasts two magnificant attractions.  One is a huge panoramic window that allows visitor to scan Middle Creek Lake, the biggest of many in the refuge, to look for migrating waterfowl

The second attraction is a complete display of the birds and mammals to be found in the area.  This display of owls was unique:

We selected a short but strenuous hike up the Millstone Trail to a view of the entire refuge, then by connector to the Horseshoe Trail and down Horseshoe Trail to the Middle Creek Trail, and back again.  Our trailhead was a short drive from the visitor center.  On the way, we passed the dam and outlet for Middle Creek Lake.  The wind was driving pulses of waves across the lake and to the dam, creating rhythmic cascade of water over the spillway:

Here's Kathy at the trailhead.  The day was sunny but brisk, and the landscape still quite wintry looking.  While we saw a few buds and early leaves, for the most part Spring has not yet arrived here.

Most of the trail was that familiar Pennsylvania rock-strewn path we've come to know and love (and AT through-hikers detest).  Below, David is looking over a typical uphill section of the trail, filled with moss-covered boulders:

The trail were well-blazed, but the people blazing these trails didn't follow the usual coventions.  We could imagine the person who painted this blaze for a turn in the trail, first drawing the two slanted lines, then, because that might not be clear enough, just got straight to the point with an arrow.  All that signage confused Dave, who points the correct way to turn:

The first part of our hike was straight uphill, but we were amply rewarded with an expansive view of the entire northern section of the refuge, including Middle Creek Lake.  We chose to stop here for lunch, and then continue on for another couple hours of hiking.

The refuge has over 8 miles of trails within its boundaries, but also connects to the famous Horseshoe Trail, a 130-mile long path that runs fromWashington's historic headquarter in Valley Forge National Park, to the south, with the Appalachian Trail near Harrisburg, to the north.  With this many miles to romp across, we think our hiking agenda is pretty well set up for our entire stay here!

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