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Wildlife Watching at Little Pine State Park

No matter what time of year, there are many opportunities to see all types of wildlife at Little Pine State Park. Visitors may see raccoons or mink along the lake, deer and foxes in the fields, or bear or turkeys in the woodlands.

Since 2004, bald eagles have nested in the park. From the viewing area visitors can observe the eagles and eaglets without disturbing the birds.

During the summer, visitors may see deer and songbirds throughout the park, herons and otters in the lake, and songbirds in many habitats.

The fall season brings many migratory birds, such as loon, snow goose, and many raptors.

During the winter, many species of birds take advantage of the various feeding stations in the park.

Natural History

Little Pine Creek is a freestone coldwater stream that supports a wide variety of aquatic life. Coldwater fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, and amphibians can be found both above and below the lake.

When the dam was built in 1949-1950, it altered the ecology of that part of the stream. The lake acts as a sediment trap, creating a mud bottom. This allows different species of fish, insects, and plant life to thrive.

The extensive shallows at the upper end of the lake are prime breeding and hunting habitat for aquatic and shoreline animals such as muskrat, mink, and herons. Snapping turtles and painted turtles are often seen in this part of the lake.

The lake has a slightly warmer temperature than the stream, allowing warmwater fishes like sunfish, pickerel, sucker, and catfish to survive.

Geology

Little Pine State Park is in the Appalachian High Plateaus Province of Pennsylvania, in the Deep Valleys Section. The bedrock was laid down about 300 million years ago. Plant fossils from this time can be found in the cliffs near the top of the dam spillway.

During the Illinoian Glacial Advance, about 150,000 years ago, the glacier dammed the northern flow of Pine Creek, creating glacial lakes in the Wellsboro-Mansfield area. These lakes existed for long enough time for shellfish to thrive in the cold water lakes.

When the glacier melted and retreated, the lakes flooded and drained to the south, reversing the flow of Pine Creek and carving valleys, including Little Pine Valley. The fossilized shellfish from the outflow of the glacial lakes can be found along Little Pine Creek, well above the present stream level.

Fossil collecting is prohibited in Little Pine State Park.