Independence Day with Ben Franklin: Hiking Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve

[Credit: Maddy Jackson]
[Credit: Maddy Jackson]

What better way to celebrate America than to venture into the woods with Ben Franklin? Not the founding father, obviously – he’s just my dog – but the Fourth of July is the perfect day to get outside to enjoy the freedoms we have.

A great way to beat the heat and humidity of a Northeast Independence Day is to head to Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve, located roughly a half-hour from Lancaster, Penn., and two hours outside of Philadelphia. There, the small parking lot fills up quickly, so arrive early to start your journey.

On a humid, 90-degree day, this hike, shaded by trees and following a creek the entire way, is perfect. Along the trail, you’ll also find ample opportunities to cool down in the creek, easily Ben Franklin’s favorite part. In fact, keeping him out of the water is nearly impossible.

[Credit: Maddy Jackson]
[Credit: Maddy Jackson]
The blue trail closely travels with the creek and, after about 20 minutes, has a large swimming hole. So, to cool off on a hot Fourth of July, why not take the opportunity to jump into a natural swimming hole? At the end, the trail runs into a railroad; carefully cross it and then head down a hill by the small bridge. Here, you’ll find some social trails that lead to the edge of the Susquehanna River. It’s also a great place to eat lunch and go for a swim!

Better yet, the hike is light enough to do the entire thing in sandals, so I wouldn’t go without my Keen Newport H2O pair. As I was constantly jumping in and out of the creek with Ben Franklin and dealing with the river’s muddy bottom, they were extremely useful. I also wouldn’t go without water – and make sure to bring lots of it. Rounding out my list of essentials are Ben’s (the brand, not the dog) bug spray, sunscreen, my Eastern Mountain Sports hat, and a six-pack of local Victory beer – you can’t get more American than swimming in a river and enjoying a local craft beer. Don’t forget an inflatable tube if you want to float for a bit!

Also, please be sure to follow Leave No Trace guidelines: pack out what you pack in. Many want to see this place protected and preserved forever, so that it can be enjoyed for many more Independence Days to come!

[Credit: Maddy Jackson]
[Credit: Maddy Jackson]

Paddling the Perkiomen in Pennsylvania

kayaksA few weeks ago, our Collegeville, PA store staff posted an eye-catching photo on their Facebook wall of a huge group of people paddling the Perkiomen Creek.

 

After counting 30 different paddlers, I figured there had to be a story so I called Tim Swavely who handles local outreach in Collegeville. On August 3rd, “The Perkiomen Creek Sojourn” was organized by the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy. The day-long paddle/water quality study session turned out to be a fantastic way to get people on the water and help them understand the history, current conditions and importance of the Perkiomen Watershed to the health of the greater Philadelphia area.

Tim ensured the Collegeville store’s fleet of rental kayaks was available and handled all the put in and take out logistics. He also supervised the paddling party atop his stand up paddleboard. Originally scheduled for June 8, the sojourn had been postponed due to the rainiest June on record. “In a normal summer, paddling the Perkiomen would have been impossible because the water level would be too low. Not this year, we had an incredible day (despite even MORE rain) and learned everyone learned a lot. I particularly enjoyed the looks I got from people as I followed along on my SUP. Folks had no idea you could use a stand up paddleboard on a lazy river so it was cool to let people know what the sport is all about.”

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Stopping to conduct water quality tests for the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy.

In addition to just paddling the Perkiomen, the 31 paddlers conducted an invertebrate study to assess the health of the Perkiomen which feeds into the Schuylkill River, a major source of drinking water. According to Tim, the team assisted with an invertebrate study. Certain invertebrates can only live in high quality water, so finding them is obviously a good thing. “We learned how to tell if leeches were present simply by picking up rocks,” Tim explained. “We also brushed off the invertebrates into a cup and analyzed them under mini microscopes.” During the course of their assessment, the sojourn group discovered that an invasive species of crayfish had arrived and was eating the native crayfish. Information like this is invaluable to the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy and was fascinating for everyone in the group.

Paddling the Perkiomen is a great way to spend a day with lots of great scenery and sightings of great blue herons, green herons, bald eagles, chimney swifts, kingfishers and rough winged swallows. If you’re interested in a checking out Perkiomen Creek yourself, please give Tim in our Collegeville store a call at 610-226-3995.