By Walter Jarosh
Throwback with TODAY
The Hometown Hike by Walter Jarosh
May 1996; page 10
Spring - that glorious time of the year when nature abounds with the rebirth of life. The woodlands and wetlands of Upper St. Clair put on a tremendous display of new sprouts, leaves and wildflowers.
Animals and birds herald the warming weather with increased activity, nest building and raising of young. Migrating birds return to their former territories feathered in their brightest plumage.
You can't see the sights from your house. Put on your old shoes or hiking boots and hit the trail. Many of the short trails in Upper St. Clair lead to hidden jewels.
Turn off Rt 19 onto Orr Road to find the Gilfillan Trail. With the help of a trail brochure from the Library or the Recreation Department, you can walk among 400-year old trees. Blue and yellow violets may be found along the 1.25 mile woodchip path. The trail winds through the woods and across the upper meadow for a different view of the Gilfillan Farm and the contrasting development of the neighborhoods and South Hills Village. The trail loop can be covered in 15-30 minutes at a comfortable pace. If you have the time, go around again. You're guaranteed to see something you missed on your first trip. Mother Nature constantly changes the landscape, so don't hesitate a return visit.
Now that your boots are muddy, let's go a little farther. Follow Rt. 19 south to Boyce Road. Drive just past Boyce School to the hill with the gardens. Drive beyond the yellow gate and park. The Boyce trail system unwinds before you. A wooden sign holds a mapto the area. The trail lenghs are marked with posts at the trail heads. Maps are available from the Township. A scout is working on the brochure. The upland trail follows the contours and is easily negotiated by young and old. Many sights await those who quietly walk this route. The overlook trail provides a spectacular view but requires moderate uphill walking. The panoramic view is awesome throughout the year. A young hiker said so.
The loop trail will lead to the wetlands. Hikers to the wetlands should allow two hours or more to complete the hike and provide time for observation. Bird enthusiast William R. Judd reported observing 104 different species of birds during his 71 visits (about 127 hours). Do you want to see Great Blue Heron, Canadian Geese, Bluebirds, Turkeys, Blue-winged Teal or some of the 99 other species that might be there? Animals? Deer, fox, mink, beaver, bats, opossum, raccoons, frogs, toads and snakes await your visit.
Don't forget to watch the fish jump. (A big carp or bass really excites the kids.)
Wildflowers abound. Take a field book and identify a few. Have your children seen a Jack-in-the-pulpit?
The woodchip trail under your feet has been installed through the efforts of local youth and the Upper St. Clair Public Works Department. The following Boy Scouts earned their Eagle rank by organizing the labor, material and equipment to install sections of the trail: Collin Raymond, Steve Davis, Steve Stockton, Adrian Bischoff, Kent Petry, Hon Yoon and Mike Gotch. Scout troops and sponsors represented in the project include Troop 366 Westminster; Troop 4, St. Louise De Marillac; Troop 228 Christ United Methodist; Troop 1313 St. Benedicts the Abbott; and Troop 1331, V. F. W. Post 764. The students from Boyce School, under the direction of Howard O'Shell, installed a connection from Boyce. Their contribution aids in student education and conservation as bussing to the wetland for school activities is no longer needed. They hike.
Walter Jarosh is the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds/Forester.
So where have you hiked this week? Write and let us know. You may just want to share your special jewel.