Sometimes we discover a new trail at just the right time. After two solid weeks of insanity at work, I was ready for some different scenery, something unusual to engage my mind other than fighting with website code and avoiding nonsense office politics. Rich was looking for a relatively easy trail that would offer an opportunity for an easy ride at whatever pace he chose, but not tempt him to go quite as far as the 19 miles we did last week at Lehigh Gorge. And John was just looking to ride, as always!
The northern trailhead of the Susquehanna Warrior Trail is in Hunlock Creek. Parking is available at the Garden Drive-In Theater—except that when we arrived, almost every spot was taken. The trail was busy for relatively early on a Saturday morning, mostly with runners from what appeared to be a local school’s cross country team.
The majority of the trail is narrower than the other rail-trails we frequently ride, and it has a slightly rougher gravel surface. The first couple miles were also covered with dried-out weeds, which did not impede travel at all but gave the entire trail an orange cast. It was just an unusual look overall, and I felt like I had traveled to a different area of the country. Just what I wanted!We passed some small businesses and a large industrial site before beginning to meander east, away from the highway. The area just past the entrance road to S.C.I. Retreat, a medium-security state prison on the site of an old mental hospital, was the most lush and secluded. (Just don’t be unnerved by the “firing range” signs.)
We detoured down to a boat launch area for a photo and to glimpse the river, which is not easily visible, at least in summer, from this trail.
Our turnaround spot today was the community park in Shickshinny, which was devoid of guests other than us (on a lovely summer Saturday). When we saw the posted list of rules, it’s no wonder why! Nevertheless, we sat at a picnic table in a pavilion and enjoyed our snack of grapes and water—probably breaking several dozen rules along the way, but none the wiser.
Rich and I agreed that we would love to return, when his knees are feeling better, to explore the old cemetery and railroad station we spotted along the way, and to ride the entire trail to the southern trailhead at PPL Riverlands Park.
Lest you wonder if food was also involved in our decision—that is a given! One of our ulterior motives in suggesting this trail for today was that the Tipsy Turtle II (pronounced, quite logically, as “Tipsy Turtle Aye-Aye” by our new GPSr) is on the way home, more or less. And the Tipsy Turtle II (unlike the Tipsy Turtle I) has fish & chips on the menu. Finally, Rich could get the fried fish he’s been craving for months! And it was worth the drive up Route 11 from Hunlock Creek. We had five or six slender pieces of moist fish fried perfectly, with just a thin coating of golden batter, perfectly seasoned (that is to say, very little salt!). The fries, skin on and unsalted, were also a treat. I was so happy that Rich finally had found his fried fish, and it was a real joy watching him enjoy it. I was also happy because of the Lake Placid Ubu Ale that we all ordered—partly because it tasted so good and refreshing, and partly because it reminded me of our trip to Lake Placid (and the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery) four years ago. We all shared Turtle Bites with a side of inferno sauce … and John topped it off with more spiciness in the form of an inferno sauce-coated chicken sandwich.
The exercise, hot sauce, beer, and the jigsaw puzzle we finished when we got home all combined to make us extra sleepy. We were in bed by 9:00pm!