On The Trail: Goose Creek Park

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Round trip distance: ~0.5mile (can be extended to about 0.7mile by taking unpaved side trails)

Difficulty: Easy

Information: http://www.thornburytwp.com/PDF/Park%20Facilities.pdf

Trail map: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=ml

UTVidyaRajanColLogoThis is a tiny park, at a total of about 12 acres, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Views and serenity are abundant, as are park benches from which to enjoy them. The park is small, and it is superfluous to describe it in mileage terms, so I have not. The entrance to the park is located behind the Goose Creek Grill on Route 926 East, about 2 miles beyond the Route 202 crossing. Please follow posted rules. Dog waste bags are provided; please clean up after your pet.

The paved trail begins at the entrance, passing a playground for children complete with the perfect earth mound to play King of the Mountain. Beyond the playground is an attractive and well-maintained pavilion with picnic benches. A short way beyond, on the left, is a small gap in the hedge which opens into a large, shady, outdoor classroom. What a great place to learn, surrounded by silence – except, I suppose, when trains pass along the tracks just a few meters away.

The paved trail has some pleasant views over the grassy park, which is especially lovely on a sunny day. Clumps of trees dot the wide expanse of grass. A fringe of hedges and trees gives the park a secluded feel, while providing a nice palette of fall colors. The paved trail curves sharply to the right beyond a clump of trees ahead but take the grassy path to the left and behold a well hidden, enormous oak tree with a bench nearby. Although there are no signs describing the tree’s history, its girth suggests that it is a Penn’s Oak. The trail then opens on a small clearing by Goose Creek, but traffic over passing over the bridge does not make this a pleasant spot for lingering. Go back and ponder the changes the tree must have seen, then return to the paved trail.

The path curves around with birdhouses placed on poles here and there. A small gap in the hedge opens on to the “wetland” area flanking the river. Stay on the trail and cross the charming bridge over the equally charming Goose Creek stream. This is quite a magical spot with the stream reflecting the trees on one side of the bridge and rushing merrily in small rapids on the other. There is a small pebble beach for stream access at the rapids. Turn right after crossing the bridge, and the path leads through trees with some nice views of the stream and the reflection of trees in the stream. One of the striking trees you will see here is paper birch with stunning, peeling bark (note: do not peel the bark off the tree!). Along the path are forests of goldenrod and multiflora rose. The trail carries on through wetland and then ends at the edge of Route 926. Turn around and cross over the bridge. The paved trail then returns you to the park entrance.

Nature Notes: Creating a pollinator-friendly garden

Chemicals sprayed on gardens and lawns to prevent weed growth harm both detrimental and beneficial insects equally. Additionally, chemical runoff from gardens into streams is implicated in the decline of aquatic animal populations. If you are a homeowner proud of your lawn, be prouder still when you can attract and retain pollinators to them by allowing dandelions and other pollen-heavy plants to flourish.  However, if a perfect lawn is a must for you, use the resources below to manage weeds in an environmentally sensitive way without the use of harmful chemicals. A great way to go about having a pollinator-friendly yard is to use organic weed management methods on your lawn, and to maintain a patch of pollinator-friendly flowers that you never spray with chemicals.

Organic weed management from You Bet Your Garden: http://www.whyy.org/91FM/ybyg/lawncare.html

Organic weed management from West Virginia University Extension Service: http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/r/download/51445

Planting for Native Bees in North America:

http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/general-plants-for-bees-xerces1.pdf

 

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