Exploring Pocono Creek

I love wandering. Walking's great for you, and I can do it for hours when I've got a good place to. Back when I was at college, regardless of it being warm or not, every Saturday evening, I'd be up in the total darkness of North Campus, that where all the old stone education buildings resided (as opposed to all the shiny, new dorm buildings), where you'd maybe see four people in two hours, one of which was invariably an old lady with a dog. You can imagine everyone else was either off back at home or off-campus entirely, probably drinking, but most importantly, being social. I was too busy wandering. I was one of those college kids who never did find friends, despite my better efforts, but that was just fine. I had a new girl to think about, and a whole cast of new characters with her to think about.

My parents and especially my older sister would invariably ask me if I ever got off campus, presumably to see...whatever else that college town had to offer. (Shops, as far as I know.) The answer was never "yes", and I'm sure they thought it was rather sad. Of course, why I was wandering never quite came up, where it'd become fairly obvious why I wasn't out exploring the town.

I don't go to that college anymore, and the walks weren't exactly worth $40,000 of student debt anyway. (Neither was the degree.) I still love wandering, though, and I'm always delighted to find a new place a little more local to wander through. Of course, these days, I'm not walking the school grounds at night, just trails and forests midday. Often though, they're just as isolated as North Campus, and that means more thinking and daydreaming.

I'm happy to report that our new favorite spot isn't even five minutes from the house, and to date, we've only ever seen two other cars there. The place doesn't quite have a name, I don't think, but it runs through Pocono Creek, so I've been calling it that. The most striking thing: it doesn't even begin to feel like a natural trail! It feels...almost invented, created to be exactly like it is. There's narrow trails through stretches of young trees, corkscrew hills up to cliffsides perfectly overlooking the water, a good couple toppled logs and trees for flavor, and the entire thing is a ridiculous loop.

I didn't bring my camera my first time through, but a few days later, on an equally lovely late spring day, we came back and I did. Here's the tale of Pocono Creek, in pictures and in stories of cryptids that lurk within it.

At the entrance: the tree tunnel

It's a perfectly hidden little trail, off a back road with only a small, stone-covered parking lot out front to mark the spot. There's a vehicle barrier to keep people from driving inside, though obviously, humans can just walk around it. The traffic noise, which isn't bad in the first place, dips fairly dramatically when you get inside, all the tree cover and the vehicle barrier acting as a "front wall" of sorts.

There's three paths right at the entrance, one where the trail loops, one that merges into the "proper" entrance, and then the entrance itself, which utterly delighted me the first time I went through it. I love tree tunnels. Tree tunnels are my name for these lovely, shaded stretches where the trees hang fairly low to the ground and arc their branches and leaves just perfectly overhead. I've been in a few of them now. How they form, who knows, but it's just one of those examples of nature being more of an architect than she lets on. Even more fittingly, the tree tunnel is the path to the meat of the trail, again like a natural entrance.

The tree tunnel, from the entrance end of it

If you peek out to your left on your way through the tree tunnel, you'll actually start to see your first glimpses of the creek itself. There's almost these little outlet paths leading directly down towards the water.

One of the hidden-away paths to the creek from the tree tunnel

The bench and the boulder

Once you get past the tree tunnel, the views out to the creek really start to open up. There's several of them dotted along the trail, several places where you can just step into the water if you so choose. (The water temperature wasn't terrible at all when I was there, pretty refreshing actually, given that it was close to 85F that day. Do watch for frogs though. We saw a real big one down by the water as we hung over the cliff, which I'll get to in a moment.) There's this lovely, wide open forest clearing right afterwards with a bench someone had carved right next to the water's edge (or rather, next to the dropoff above the water).

The bench overlooking the water
A view upstream from the boulder
Another view upstream, with a really crazy curved tree root sticking out of the dropoff

Just out of the shot of the first photo, too, there's this gigantic boulder, flat and stable enough that you can happily sit or stand on it to take photos. The second and third ones in this batch were taken atop the boulder; I wasn't actually nine feet tall and standing in the creek. On note of standing in the creek, check the bottom of it in these shots. They're not stones! It's actually a single, solid rock under the surface. Some of the spots later on were lined with stones underneath, but if you were gonna wade in, you'd probably pick down here instead.

Some of the trails get rather narrow and twisted as you keep going, but the creek's always right next to you. I didn't get a picture of it, but we stopped near the water a bit further down (past where the "falls" are in the above shots) where these layered rock pools had either formed or been built (maybe as a way to divert flow?). Either way, they weren't terribly deep, enough to sit in but no deeper, but they were staggered vertically so one would pour into the next lower one, then the next lower one, and then finally down into the lower parts of the creek. It's one of those parts of the trail that feels so intentional, it's hard to believe this is just some little trail owned by the state and used for not much at all, rather than some private development with a ton of (natural-looking) upgrades.

A bit further up the creek, where the rocks start piling up
One of the narrow, twisted paths through the trees
And a view upstream for good measure

Going rather nicely with the log bench from earlier, someone had actually very neatly and carefully (aside from all the sawdust, I mean) carved out a chunk of another fallen (and incredibly spiky) log and turned it into a stepping stone path! The ecosystem around us started to change pretty rapidly too; all this time, I've been showing you a flowing creek with freshwater, but as we came up on the stepping stone log, we passed by a swampy area absolutely rife with frogs. We didn't stick around (standing water, mosquitoes, y'know, plus swamps just aren't all that attractive to look at), but we did get to catch sight of a few rather tiny lads who'd clamber up on a dry spot and then disappear back into the water. Super neat.

Someone carved out a chunk of log so people didn't have to climb over it, how nice

The cliff side

Now we get into the higher elevations. There's a spot along the trail I call a corkscrew hill, and it really marks the transition away from the very low-lying spots next to the creek into drier, elevated hiking trails. Up here's where we discovered some incredibly old, weathered, historical electronic gubbins and had our encounter with a cryptid none of us could quite identify.

As if to beckon you back to the water's edge, as soon as you get up the corkscrew hill, there's an incredibly mossy slope back down to a cliff overlooking the creek. By this point, I'd adopted a sturdy, fallen branch trimmed some as a makeshift walking stick, and to test where the solid part of the cliff ended and solid-looking but otherwise flimsy moss edges began, I started to poke through with the stick. I was actually pretty surprised to see just how thick the moss was! I'd say it was a good 4-5 inches thick? Stuff had definitely been growing there for a while. Peeking over was also where we discovered a softball-sized frog chilling directly underneath us on the water, minding not one bit around him.

The water from the cliff
The path from the cliff back down to the water The water from the cliff, plus an island nearby

Dead roots and dirty records

The trail goes long and peaceful for a bit around here, assuming you don't go back down, but you do eventually come to a set of fallen trees with absolutely monstrous roots pulled out of the ground. The second tree was pulled out in such a way that the space the roots previously took up were exposed as a cavity in the ground under the tree, probably enough to fit two people! Even bigger trees, you never quite get the scale of their roots just from looking at the trunk, but boy can they grow to some absurd sizes.

The exposed roots and space where they took up under a toppled tree

I was told that apparently, these trails were a bit of a party location many, many decades ago, and we found two bits of discarded trash from the 70s that bore that out: an RCA color TV, and two piles of records. Neither were in brilliant shape, naturally, all this time exposed to the elements, but just that told me other stories.

The TV was old, rusted out, and its tube was separated from its housing. The front of it said "New Vista Color", which makes me think it dates to just when color TVs were starting to become really prominent. Another bit that separates it from the later CRTs I'm used to is the lack of inputs (TVs up until the mid-80s or so only came with antenna jacks) and the huge amounts of adjustments you could make on the back. Even with the state of the unit being what it was, I could still make out all of the text molded into the plastic. You had both a horizontal and vertical hold adjust, focus, automatic gain control, individual tint controls, and most oddly, a "Color Killer" option, presumably a button for filtering the color out of the signal (NTSC color was fully backwards compatible with black-and-white TVs).

The TV how we found it, with the tube separate from its housing
The back of the unit, featuring its adjustment controls

The records were in even more dismal shape—the labels were completely worn to the point of illegibility, as were the grooves. Seriously, these were either the finest grooves in existence, or the dirt was so well-caked into them that it made the surface nearly smooth to the touch. All I could make out on any of them was the silence between tracks.

What I could tell, however, was weight, and these were incredibly lightweight pressings. By the late 70s or so, certainly into the 80s, record production had raced to the bottom, and aside from impure vinyl stock, they were also using far less of the stuff, meaning they couldn't cut the grooves as deep, meaning less dynamic range, less bottom end, and more susceptible to warping. These were some of the lightest records I'd ever held, which definitely fits the timeframe of sometime in the 70s.

Dirty, worn, discarded records along the trail

The cryptid

We're getting on up to the end of the trail, which means one thing—the story of the thing in the trees.

So, first time we came through here, we brought our dog along on the trail. He likes to swim and also to drink the creek water, so why not? But as we got to poking at the TV up there...he'd run off. And we mean way off. There's a fork in the trail just past all the trash, the left path leading to a dead end (potentially, we never got far enough to check), and the right path leading back to the parking lot. He wasn't anywhere along the right path, so I split off and took the left path. I did find him, as he'd hopped over another fallen tree directly across the path...

But I also saw the thing he chased, maybe 20 feet off the ground, hanging with its arms around one of the taller, bigger trees. It was all black, along the upper bound of the size of a domestic cat and about as slender as one. My approach stirred our dog back up, which in turn stirred the cryptid up, who lept off the tree and into the ferns and bushes. We never did see it again, not when we passed by in the car nor the second trip, when I took all these pictures. I didn't have my camera on me at the time, so I didn't take a picture of it either.

The oldest trees above my head

This shot was taken about where the cryptid was spotted, though not in any of these trees. We'd asked around out of curiosity, but none of the answers (someone suggested a bear, another a raccoon) matched up to what I saw. It was definitely not as fluffy or built as a bear, even a cub, and raccoons have markings, while this one was solid black. Caby and I have come to the conclusion it was a stray cat, who basically just plain become wild without our interference.

We did manage to retrieve our dog, though not before he decided to wade through more wetland goo. Nice.

In any event, down a hill far too steep for its own good, we've returned to the entrance! This place was absolutely wonderful to explore, and I'd like to revisit real soon. Hell, when the car situation is situated? Given that it's pretty much in my backyard? I can come down here any time I want and explore, think, get inspiration...whatever strikes. At one point, we even left the trail and climbed up a hill of scattered prickers and brambles just to see what was at the top! It's the kinda place that's really good for long walks, varied, isolated, with a ton of natural sounds from the stream and the wildlife...great to get lost in.

If you're wondering where specifically this is, I'm afraid you'll have to do a little exploring of your own...can't give it all away, can I?

An overly yellowed photo of a forest clearing

This page last updated May 24, 2021.

I'm absolutely bringing you here, my love. u///u