Martins Creek Environmental Preserve

Martins Creek Environmental Preserve, Pennsylvania (12/28/2012)

Once again Shawnee and her human companion Daniela discovered a great area for a hike. This one is in Pennsylvania, right across the Delaware River from the quaint little town of Belvidere, New Jersey. What makes this area unique is that one can get to within 1,000 feet of the cooling towers of the Martins Creek Power Plant (much more on this below). In fact, one can park across the street from the plant on Foul Rift Road (there's a nice picnic pavillion there) and hike north. Like Daniela, we parked in the large parking lot off Belvidere-Martins Creek Highway, and headed south.

Today, using this map, we did a beautiful loop first taking the Blue trail south along the Delaware River. Just before Blue veers away from the river and heads west there is a nice sturdy observation platform where one can watch the raging (and they really were raging) waters of the Delaware head south downtream. In the area west of the river, Blue is peppered with informative tree signs. At the point where Blue crosses over Red, we went south on Red but got diverted by blow-downs and ended up on a private road which eventually dumped us onto Foul Rift Road, as close to the power plant as we could get; the cooling towers were literally 1,000 feet away, intermittently surrounded by steam.

At this very moment, a loud announcement came over the public address system "Your attention! Your attention! We are calling for a total evacuation of the facility! I repeat! A total evacuation of the facility!" This warning repeated 5 or 6 times with alarms sounding. Laura and I, a bit flummoxed by the entire situation, struggled to find the Red trail (which we lost a bit earlier), heading west on the Primitive Trail before finally backtracking to find the Red very near the private road we came in on. In the 10 minutes or so since the evacuation no fire trucks or any other such vehicles arrived so we figured it was just a drill. Still, aside from past close encounters with bears, it was just about the most excitement we've ever had on a hike. Since I don't seem to be glowing in the dark, I think all will be well.

Back on Red we took it all the way to to the Orange ridge trail (littered with Sandy blow-downs) which we then took north to (we think) its end. Well, at least it led to a couple of Porta-Johns in the middle of a trail intersection. From there we took a Purple trail (not on the map) southeast back to Blue which soon took us back to the parking lot.

Total distance covered was over 5 miles in just under 3.5 hours.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

In the large parking lot

Wow, it was icy!

So on went our ...

... Kahtoola MICROspikes®!

Ascending on a sheet of ice

View north

South on Blue


Delaware River below

Ice all over

Microspikes are perfect for this

Delaware looking north

Power plant on distance


Sturdy bridge ...

... covered with icy snow

NJ across the river

Watching the raging waters

Cooling towers

View north

Interesting rock

Critter tracks

Choppy river

Another interesting rock

Martins Creek power plant

We'll be on Orange later

New Jersey

Observation deck

View north

View south

[Photo by Laura]

View downstream


In case you didn't notice

Eastern Bluebird

[Photo by Laura]

Tree signs abound

House across from plant

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Rocky section of Blue

What a name!


Very interesting stone

Vernal pool

Private road


And very curious livestock!

Signs on private road

Heading for Foul Rift Road

Cooling towers within reach

Primitive trailhead

Laura anxious to leave

Field north of Primitive trail

Trail network at picnic pavillion

Back on Red!


Yes, that's Yellow! Thanks Sandy!

Shagbark Hickory

Boundary wall


Lots of blow-downs on Orange


Blow-down tomfoolery


This is getting tedious

Hills of Jersey

Wild berries

View to NJ across the river

Natural knot

Invasive growth on Orange

Enough already!

Bugs mating on Laura's arm! In upper 20s F!

View across field

View to farm

Barn across cornfield


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