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Wild and Natural Areas

Pennsylvania’s state forest system includes dozens of special wild and natural areas set aside to protect unique or unusual biologic, geologic, scenic and historical features or to showcase outstanding examples of the state’s major forest communities. Natural areas are “managed” by nature and direct human intervention is limited. They provide places for scenic observation, protect special plant and animal communities and conserve outstanding examples of natural beauty. Wild areas are generally extensive tracts managed to protect the forest’s wild character and to provide back country recreational opportunities.

Bruce Lake Natural Area

This natural area covers 2,845 acres including two lakes, Bruce Lake and Egypt Meadow Lake. Bruce Lake is a glacial formed lake and is completely spring fed. Virgin stands of pine and hemlock were cut in the late 1800's leaving the area vulnerable to fires that destroyed the rich humus soil layer. Egypt Meadow Lake was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935.

Stillwater Natural Area

This natural area provided a sanctuary for Union Army deserters and young men evading conscription during the Civil War. Shacks were built on the islands of the swamp or in the dense growth. This 1,931-acre tract contains a mix of conifers and hardwoods. About one mile of the Little Bushkill Stream offers "stillwaters" for canoeing.

Pennel Run Natural Area

Scrub oak, gray birch, aspen, and mixed oaks dominate the landscape of the Pennel Run Natural Area. This elevated area is comprised of nine hundred and thirty-six total acres. A portion of the Utts Swamp is located within this natural area. Reptiles and amphibians are protected by special regulations within Pennel Run Natural Area.

Buckhorn Natural Area

A high mountain swamp surrounded by mixed oaks is located within the five hundred and thirty-five acre Buckhorn Natural Area.  Reptiles and amphibians are also protected by special regulations within the Buckhorn Natural Area.

Pine Lake Natural Area

Located in this sixty-seven acre site is a ten acre glacial bog that exhibits plant zones ranging from open water to tree cover. Various flora and fauna inhabit this truly fascinating tract.

Little Mud Pond Swamp Natural Area

This one hundred and eighty-two acre natural area features a boreal swamp. Various emergent plants grow within the glacial bog including species normally found at more northern latitudes such as black spruce, tamarack and picture plant.

Stairway Wild Area

This 2,882 acre wild area is truly unique for its historic significance as a blue stone quarry during the 1840’s, for its wetlands, remoteness and wild natural beauty. Featuring Stairway lake and the nearby vista over looking the Delaware River makes this wild area a remote, quiet get away for shared use recreationists. Stairway Wild area buffers Buckhorn Natural Area to the northeast.