Hiking & Exploring Keystone College

There’s no shortage of trails to be found in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. There are long-distance loops such as the Pinchot Trail, nature trails at the various county parks, and everything in between. One of those “in between” pathways is the network that can be found at Keystone College in LaPlume. There, sojourners can opt for a wide range of rambles ranging from an hour-long stroll to a half-day exploration.

Making Ready

Map of Keystone College Trails available at https://www.keystone.edu/woodlands-campus/hiking-trails/

A detailed map of the trails is available on the college website and at a few locations on the campus. Since there are a number of places to park as well as begin and end your trek, consulting the map before hand is a solid idea. If you want to check off the entire network, allow for a few hours and take along some water and snacks. One can tackle the terrain in running shoes and we didn’t encounter any serious mud while we were there, but at points the path takes you through grassy areas which could be dew covered in the mornings and there were a few spots where water could collect on the trail following a moderate rain. Aside from that, dress for the weather and take along the essentials.

Heading Out

We started our adventure by crossing the swinging bridge located behind the college library. It’s very sturdy but wobbly and you will feel like you’re walking on a pitching ship.

Once over the creek we explored the short Water Discovery Trail that skirted by some vernal ponds and the creek bank.

Typical Trail marker on the Keystone Campus routes.

In places, there are wooden boardwalks and spurs that lead off to the creek for fishing or just romping in the stream.

The trail then shifted up along the hill’s contour to where it joined up with the Nakomis Forest Stewardship Trail. There’s a place to take a gander into the gorge below, good enough to take a quick break but quickly we pressed on to the next junction and met up with the Trolley Trail that runs concurrently with the Nakomis trail for a ways.

A mossy log in the vernal ponds along the Water Discovery Trail.

Part of the Countryside Conservancy’s network, the Trolley Trail is a Rails-to-Trails project still in development. Once competed, recreationalists will be able to travel from Clarks Summit to Lake Winola on the former Northern Electric Trolley corridor. Currently, only two sections are complete, but you can get a taste of what it will be like. Unlike the footpaths elsewhere on the campus, here the trail was wide and graded. Good for hiking or biking. Soon though we turned off to follow the Nakomis Trail back downhill, across an athletic field, and back along the creek.

Old silo on the campus along the Nakomis Trail.

Wildflower viewing in this area was exceptional and several families were playing in the creek along this portion as well. One more uphill back to the junction where we had stopped earlier, and then a gradual decline back to the bridge and we were done.

Spring wildflowers along the bank of the Tunkhannock Creek

Vital Stats

The network is made up of five trails blazed in various colors, solid for the main trails and dashed for the spurs, visible on the map. Surfaces vary from dirt, to gravel, to pavement.

  • Tunkhannock Hiking Trail (Yellow) 1.2 miles plus spurs to a pond and apiary.
  • Nakomis Forest Stewardship Trail (Orange) 1.2 miles. Hilly but also runs partly with the rail-trail.
  • Water Discovery Trail (Blue) 0.35 miles. Wetlands, boardwalk, creek views.
  • Campus Trail (Green) 1.0 miles. Parts on pavement but also access to the creek and biology pond.
  • Gateway Trail (Purple) 0.4miles. Roadside. Runs with Orange partially. Connects Green and Orange for a bigger loop.

Overall, the terrain wasn’t hard to tackle and some water maybe a snack is all you really need. While tree and plant identification were fun, wildlife wasn’t plentiful. This could have to do with the fact we visited on a Saturday and the trails were busy. Still, it wasn’t as though it was jammed with visitors. We passed a few other families, but no one was so close that it was disruptive to our adventures. With still half the network to check out, we’ll likely return too.

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