Thanksgiving walk in Spring Creek Canyon

wading permitted

They call this place Fisherman’s Paradise. The fish must look forward to winter as a respite from all the fly fishermen. “Of course, you can’t actually eat the fish here,” my brother Mark said. “They’re much too full of toxins from agricultural runoff.”

crazy oak

Right past the entrance, an oak was bent into a gesture of welcome or apotropaic fear. (In some cultures, I seem to recall, the two are indistinguishable.)

Spring Creek Canyon walkers

Limestone cliffs flank the creek,


draped with ferns and liverworts—

hepatica leaves

a great place for wildflowers in the spring.

creekside shack

Like most natural areas in Pennsylvania, the place is full of signs of past and present use, but to me, that just adds to its interest.

Spring Creek Canyon walkers 2

We walked through a ten-minute snow squall and into the sunlight.

state prison property

By the time we turned back, the sun was getting low. Mark pointed out the Rockview State Prison sign on the opposite bank. “If it weren’t for the prison, everything between Bellefonte and State College would’ve been built up long ago.”


On the way back, I noticed all sorts of things I didn’t see on the way in: a crowd of horsetails,

hornet nest

a hornets’ nest,

raspberry leaves

fading raspberry leaves… Someone had even hung Christmas ornaments on a small pine beside the trail,

moss-back tree

but in the fading light, none of my pictures turned out, so here’s a creek-side tree instead.

sun on Spring Creek

The setting sun reminded me that there was a turkey in the oven waiting for us back in Bellefonte.

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