This was a second exploration of Core Creek Park, a 1200-acre county park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, close to the retirement community where my mother lives. My first exploration of the park was two years ago, and I enjoyed walking a portion of the perimeter of Lake Luxembourg, a major feature of the park. This time I was hoping to be able to walk all the way around the lake, even though I had a vague recollection from the earlier walk that there was going to be an impediment. As it turns out, it was National Get Outdoors Day, and my walk was a great way to celebrate the occasion.
I learned that there is a trail through the woods that partly surround the lake on the east side. However, part of the lake shore essentially abuts two roads, so in the end it became necessary to walk along the shoulder of several roads in order to complete my circumnavigation. The portion of my walk that was actually within the park was only about 3.7 miles, or 40% of the total mileage for the walk.
Because of the proximity to the lake, there was relatively little elevation gain and loss: just 400 feet or so in my 9-mile walk.
I started out at the main entrance to Pennswood Village, which is just across PA-413 from the park. The shortest path to the park’s entrance on Tollgate Rd is almost exactly 1 mile. I turned in at the park entrance and started walking along the main park road. Just past the entrance there is a very nice fenced-in dog park, complete with benches, doggie-bag dispensers, trash cans, trees, and – in the middle of the grassy area – a red fire hydrant! There were several visitors in the dog park, one playing chase-the-frisbee.
About ½ mile inside the park the main road turns right, but if you continue straight you shortly arrive at a boat launching ramp, with nearby parking for vehicles with trailers. From this area I noticed some of the on-water activities. First I noticed a colorful small sailboat skimming along through the water in a pleasant light breeze.
I also noticed a couple of kayakers, alternately dipping their paddles to one side and then the other. They were pretty well synchronized! Also there was a pedal boat nearby. It looked like fun activities for a warm summer day.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to learn about a possible path around the lake, so I was happy to notice a couple of park rangers sitting in their vehicle observing the park visitors. I learned that, a few parking lots farther along the main park road, a trail takes off and goes through the woods. It’s not an improved path, but more like a single-track trail that is used by cyclists and walkers. It sounded perfect, so I continued on my way.
Along the way I walked over to another parking area near the lake shore. From here I had a nice view along the length of Lake Luxembourg.
I continued along the main park road, crossing Core Creek. About 1 mile past the road to the boat launch, I found the trail and started off into the woods. Almost immediately I was treated to the songs of cardinals, catbirds, and common yellowthroats.
There was lots of honeysuckle. Perhaps I’ve been living in California too long (?!) but I’d forgotten how beautiful and fragrant it is. Usually the blossoms come in pairs, but I saw an occasional triplet and even a quartet.
I also found crown vetch, as well as this pretty, small-sized yellow pea-like flower that I think is birdfoot deervetch.
As I walked through the woods I was a bit startled to notice the sound of a couple of helicopters flying very slowly over the area. I couldn’t help hoping that they weren’t looking for anybody in particular in the woods!
I noticed a very distinctive plant: distinctive because there were 7 lobes on a single platter-like leaf. Among other names, it is commonly known as may apple. Although may apples do flower, I haven’t yet seen a flower.
In the moist woods there were lush ferns and a few logs or tree trunks with interesting fungus colonies growing on them. This colony was growing at the base of the trunk of a tree.
There were some “social trails” as well as the intended bike trail, and I did get off-trail a couple of times. Eventually the trail led to the edge of the road that goes roughly northwest along the edge of Core Creek Park, Woodbourne Rd. At this point I was 5 miles from my start, and I decided to continue along the shoulder of the road in the direction to continue my circumnavigation of Lake Luxembourg. Within another ½ mile I turned left at Ellis Rd, figuring it was the best way to get back to Tollgate Rd. Ellis tees at Fulling Mill Rd, where I turned left to get closer to the lake, followed by a right turn onto Tollgate Rd. Along the shoulder of the roads there were some more wildflowers. I particularly noticed some pretty, brilliant pink flowers. These beauties were about 1 cm in diameter. (Update: it is Deptford pink (Dianthus armeria).)
I also passed a couple of places where the edge of Lake Luxembourg comes right up to within several feet of the road. These places are the impediments I was vaguely aware of, and which prevented a full circumnavigation on park paths.
At 6.9 miles from the start I again passed the entrance to Core Creek Park. My entire Lake Luxembourg circumnavigation, including a couple of short detours and nearly 2 miles along the shoulder of public roads, was 5.9 miles. On my way back to Pennswood I decided to walk up two short dead-end residential streets, near the 413 icon on my GPS track image. As soon as I turned on the first street I noticed some beautiful flowers in a front yard next to the street. According to a neighbor, they are called sundrops, and in some ways they reminded me of the spectacular blazing stars I had recently seen on a hike in an open space preserve in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Both streets dead-end at private property at the edge of Core Creek Park. As I approached the end of the second street I noticed a deer, initially grazing on the grass but almost immediately at attention to my approach. I continued to approach slowly, and shortly she turned and ran off.
My circumnavigation of Lake Luxembourg evolved into a very pleasant walk through Core Creek Park and its woods, along roads lined with wildflowers, and briefly through a residential area. On my way back through Pennswood property, I walked along part of the perimeter pathway to enjoy a bit more of a pleasant afternoon on National Get Outdoors Day.