Letter to the Editor 1 – Volume 156, Issue 4

Pete Macky, Contributing Writer

Most of the students attending Bucknell probably have little knowledge or understanding of the region known as the Susquehanna Valley. I didn’t know much either when I attended Bucknell several years ago. I was in the “Bucknell Bubble” and did very little exploring. After law school I returned to Lewisburg to accept a job offer and have grown to appreciate the area’s many virtues.

Before you leave the “Bubble,” here are some places you should see or things you should do, presented in no particular order. You all know how to Google and use GPS, so directions are not included.

  1. Ride around the countryside of Union and Snyder Counties, not on Routes 522 or 11 and 15, but off the beaten track. You will see beautiful farmland, Amish buggies, and spectacular scenery.
  2. Go to the Tall Timbers Natural Area, an area too remote for logging operations. These giant trees, some older than William Penn’s Holy Experiment (1682), are now protected for your wonder and delight. Tall Timbers is west of Lewisburg, between Mifflinburg and Middleburg.
  3. Go to Ricketts Glen State Park. If you hike the entire loop (about seven miles) you will see 22 waterfalls, each one unique. This is not an easy hike for people used to spending their weekends lounging about, but there are shorter hikes within the park. There is also a lake for swimming and boating. The Falls Trail is closed during the winter, but there are still trails for cross country skiing. Or yes, you can go ice fishing on the lake.
  4. Go to R. B. Winter State Park, about 17 miles west of Lewisburg. There is a small jewel of a lake and many hiking trails. Mountain biking and cross-country skiing are favorite activities. There is a fire tower on Sand Mountain Road. Unfortunately, you can no longer climb it.
  5. Go to the Haystacks, an exceptional and exciting place to go swimming. Maybe file this away for spring. Enormous boulders in Loyalsock Creek create deep pools and swirling eddies. The hike to this spot is only about three miles off Route 220, near Laporte, northeast of here in Sullivan County.
  6. When the weather has been cold enough for the volunteer firemen to build it, the toboggan run at Eagles Mere is really fun. The little town is like an Alpine Village and the run, made of ice blocks, takes you right out onto the frozen lake. Call ahead or check the website before you go, unless you want to just enjoy the drive. Cross-country skiing is popular here.
  7. Go to the Lewisburg Farmers Market on Wednesdays. For local color and wonderful, fresh produce, this is a must. Amish, Mennonite, and the “English” (what Amish call the rest of us) sell their excellent wares.
  8. Canoe or kayak the Susquehanna or Penns Creek. The Susqy is so big and powerful that it created the Chesapeake Bay. The North Branch starts in Cooperstown, N.Y. and then swings down into Pennsylvania, sweeping through Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and then on past Sunbury and Selinsgrove.
  9. Did you know the Susquehanna has a West Branch? It starts west of here, swings north past Lock Haven and then heads east past Williamsport and south past Lewisburg until it meets the North Branch at Sunbury. Canoes and kayaks can be rented in Lewisburg and Montoursville for the West Branch.
  10. Walk, hike, cross-country ski, or mountain bike anywhere in the state parks in the area. There were visionary people involved in planning the state park system, and the people who built the parks deserve special mention: the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one of the most successful government initiatives taken during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Many of the trails, bridges, and buildings they constructed are still there.
  11. The Buffalo Valley Rail Trail runs nine miles from Lewisburg to Mifflinburg. It starts just north of Route 45. Turn right onto 15th Street and right again into the parking lot, or ride your bike or walk from campus. You can ride, walk, run, or ski. The first mile at each end is paved, so you could roller blade a small part of it.
  12. Lewisburg has a wonderful outdoor ice rink, which is open all winter, weather permitting. It is on St. Mary Street, just west of Route 15 (570-524-6776). Sunbury has an indoor rink, open October through March (570-286-1441). There is an organized ice hockey league in Sunbury, and Bucknellians sometimes play hockey at the Lewisburg rink.
  13. The local Sierra Club chapter, Otzinachson, has a website with a challenging hiking schedule. The hikes are usually on Saturdays and Sundays. They often start earlier than most college students get up, so they are not for everyone.

Enjoy your years at Universitas Bucknellensis. They will be among the best of your lives!

Pete Macky ’70

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