Thursday, May 28, 2015

RoadAbode's Hidden Gems: Frances Slocum State Park Wyoming, Pennsylvania

RoadAbode Hidden Gem: Frances Slocum State Park
View from the Lake Shore Trail
The RoadAbode Crew usually does not try to camp on popular holiday weekends. In the past, we have found those weekends the traffic is crazy, the campgrounds and state parks we go to are crowded, and there seems to be more "yahoos" ~ those that are there more for partying and craziness than relaxing and enjoying nature. This Memorial Day weekend, we decided to give it a try. Our other weeks in May were filled with volunteering with a local Youth Theater, Our eldest's College graduation, work projects and helping at our church. If we wanted to get out to relax with RoadAbode (and we needed to!) it would have to be Memorial Day weekend. To add a little bit of adventure to the weekend, I had decided we would check out an area of Pennsylvania called "The Back Mountains," and stay at a new to us campground ~ Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County

About the Park's Namesake

Frances Slocum State Park is so named in honor of a woman abducted when she was five years old by Delaware Indian warriors at the Slocum family farm near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Slocum was raised among the Delaware nation, which moved to what is now Ohio and Indiana. Not until she was in her 60s did her siblings find her. By then she had married the chief of the Miami Indian Nation, and had four children. She had no recollection of her previous life, or even her former name. She chose to stay with her Native American family, Slocum’s story is one of a rare individual who fully assimilated into the Native American culture that surrounded her, and was accepted as one of its members. To read more of her history and legacy, check here

About the Park

Frances Slocum State Park consists of over 1,000 acres in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County. The park features a horseshoe shaped, 165-acre lake which is great for boating and  fishing. While on the hiking trails, there are many species of birds, fish and wildlife to see.  There is also a pool.
For those that like fishing, bring your boat (or rent one) to try your luck catching the various species in the lake; including crappie, bluegill, perch, catfish, muskellunge, pickerel, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and stocked trout.
This park is great for the novice hiker. Most of the trails we hiked were well marked and on flat, even terrain. Many of the trails intersect together, and use portions of inter-park roadways as part of the hike. The four miles of mountain bike trails are designated with red trail makers. The short Frances Slocum Trail loops to and from the boat rental parking lot. On this trail hikers can enjoy the hardwood forest and will come upon the rock shelter where it is thought American Indians temporarily hid and held their small captive (Frances Slocum).
The temperature during our visit was a bit cool for us to enjoy the pool at Frances Slocum. There were some kids in the pool, and it looked like a great place to take a swim on a hot day. We did visit the concession stand outside the pool, as this is where campers can pickup firewood and ice. Though the building splits the road on the way to the campground, there is no longer a store for campers located there.

About the Campground

For we RVers, the campground consists of two loops, Hemlock Hill and Stoney Point. Stoney Point is preferable as each site has electric hookups, and more water spigots dispersed throughout the loop. There is also the Rocky Knoll loop for walk-ins tent campers that want to get their wild on. Both RVing loops allow pets in designated sites. Below is a photosphere we created of our campsite on the Stoney Point loop.

When we were there, the bath house was clean and usable. Plenty of hooks to hang our showering things, a bench to hold stuff or sit on, but no curtain between the changing area and shower. (There is a door for each individual shower/changing area combo) the shower was operated by a push button that had to be periodically held in to continue your stream of water. The park did lose water pressure on the third day of our stay, but that was due to a water main break on the main road - out of the staff's control. Water use was back again the next day. We frequently saw park rangers pass through the park, and even more so after the water issue - making sure everyone knew of the problem. The camp hosts were also visible, stopping to chat with people and always picking up any refuse along the roadways. Was great that they were checking in with guests and keeping things clean!
Trails, fishing and even a boat launch are all easily accessible walking from the campground. You could hike to the pool, but probably would be better to take the short drive over. The pool is centered in the "horseshoe" of the lake, with the campground to the outside of one of the legs of the horseshoe.

The Surrounding Area

RoadAbode Crew at Seven Tubs
Resting along the stream at Seven Tubs
We only left the park twice ~ to grab some supplies (someone forgot headphones) and to grab a bite while out; and to visit a Luzerne County Nature Area.  Both a Super WalMart and Aldis Grocery store are only 20 minutes from the campground in the city of Pittston. The state park is also close to larger of municipalities Scranton and Wilkes Barre. There are plenty of local eateries for us to check out in subsequent visits.
The nature area we visit is called Seven Tubs. A trail follows series of small waterfalls carved by glacial waters.  It was a beautiful and shaded hike. Most of the trail is well marked, but watch for roots, loose soil and slippery rocks when first crossing the bridge to start your hike. We would recommend checking the area out, and plan on going back ourselves. To learn more about Seven Tubs, the most informative link seems to be at Wikipedia

Final Thoughts

We really enjoyed Frances Slocum state park. Even for a busy holiday weekend and full campground, we did not feel closed in or crowded. There is still plenty to explore, or maybe just relax and read a book or two as we did this visit for our holiday weekend.
Reservations are completed through the Reserve America website, and for most include a photo of the particular sites.
For more information on Frances Slocum State Park, check the PA DCNR website

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