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Seeing benefits of Big Woods in the West end

Patiently, persistently, over a period of 17 years, the supervisors of Chestnuthill Township in the West End of Monroe County, have assembled hundreds of acres of forest for public recreation — the land that makes up The Big Woods Natural Area.

On Oct. 22, the Get Outdoors Poconos series will host a hike through the 460-acre Big Woods, part of the West End Greenway, with hike leader Carol Hillestad.

A blazed trail will lead participants on a 2.25-mile hike to discover wildflowers, puddle-dwelling polliwogs, a pileated woodpecker, red-spotted newts and monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed.

The trail starts out wide and open, and then footing consists of rocks and dirt, but it is hard-packed and mostly level — fairly easy going. Horseback riders also enjoy this jaunt through the Big Woods.

The open, sunlit woodland features white pine and hemlock, chestnut oaks and beeches, maples and birch. Loose stone rows and precise dry-laid stone walls stand as evidence of a long-ago builder’s skill and the area’s agricultural roots — all now preserved for perpetuity.

There is no charge, but registration is required.

For more information, call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727, or email info@brodheadwatershed.org.

For information about this and other hikes in the free Get Outdoors Poconos series, visit brodheadwatershed.org/gopoconos. The hike series is administered by Brodhead Watershed Association and supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.