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Get Your Tail on the Trail of the Month: Keystone College Woodlands Campus image
January 06, 2022
Get Your Tail on the Trail of the Month: Keystone College Woodlands Campus

Each month, Get Your Tail on the Trail’s Northeast Pennsylvania chapter will share a Trail of the Month to explore. Log your miles at the location “Keystone College Trails” from January 1 through January 31 for the chance to win a $50 REI gift card. Keep up your fitness momentum throughout the year as we roll out county-specific badges across NEPA. Share your photos on social media with #GetYourTailOnTheTrail, and stay tuned for our Winter Mini-Challenge, which kicks off February 1. 

Explore Forests, Fields, Streams & More at Keystone College

On a snowy day in NEPA, you set out to explore the Woodlands Campus at Keystone College.  As you traverse across the suspension bridge, you can’t help but stop halfway across to gaze at the stream below. Heavy, snow-laden branches and shimmering ice make you feel as if you have entered a winter wonderland. You wonder what awaits you on the other side…


The Nokomis Suspension Bridge leads to several of the trails.


Keystone College, located in La Plume, is situated on 170 acres of beautiful woodlands. The college hosts seven miles of hiking trails, including the Trolley Trail and several interpretive trails. The area includes a mix of hemlock and hardwood forests, grass meadows, wildflower fields, shrubland and access to the South Branch of Tunkhannock Creek, as well as Ackerly Creek. Vernal pools, a biology pond, the sugar shack, an apiary and rock formations are some of the many sites to visit along your journey.


The sugar shack is Keystone College’s own maple sugaring operation.


Keystone College has a long history in the Commonwealth, dating back to 1868 when it was first chartered. In 1976, the Keystone College Science Club initiated trail planning and construction of the first trails. Professor Howard Jennings was instrumental in creating the Nokomis Trail with a student-led group in the 1980s. He continued to build and maintain the interpretive trails throughout his 45-year career at Keystone College. A professor of biology, Jennings created the trails for the purpose of engaging and enriching student experiences in the environment. The Woodlands Campus continues to uphold his vision of an outdoor classroom and helps foster environmental stewardship. In 2010, the college established the Woodlands Campus as the Professor Howard Jennings Nature Preserve.

Today, the Woodlands Campus is an extremely valuable educational resource for Keystone students, providing a perfect area for a variety of scientific and environmental studies. Few colleges in the nation offer students such a pristine natural environment for education and recreation. Thousands of people have hiked the trails to experience nature at its finest and have enjoyed wonderful opportunities for fishing, photography and simply relaxing.


Discover the Trails


An apple orchard is located along the the Tunkhannock Hiking Trail.


Three interpretive trails can be accessed by both students and the public. They include the Riparian Trail, the Water Discovery Trail and the Nokomis Forest Stewardship Trail. Interpretive trails offer stations with informational guides for many topics, like the environment and historical land use.


The Woodlands Campus offers excellent opportunities for fishing.


The Riparian Trail is a 1.5-mile loop starting behind the Miller Library. The hike leads you streamside into mature woods, meadows and a steep mountain ravine.  Along the way, you will see several fishing spots on the South Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek, the biology pond and an open-air stage.


The Nokomis Suspension Bridge crosses over the South Branch of Tunkhannock Creek.


The Nokomis Suspension Bridge is the main entrance to the Howard Jennings Nature Preserve, leading to both the Nokomis Forest Stewardship Trail and the Water Discovery Trail. On the Water Discovery Trail, you will pass by the vernal pool where spotted salamanders and wood frogs can be found. The current Nokomis Forest Stewardship Trail is approximately 1.2 miles long with 22 educational stations.


The Woodlands Campus connects to Countryside Conservancy’s Trolley Trail.


The Nokomis Forest Stewardship Trail also provides access to the Countryside Conservancy Trolley Trail, which is 1.4 miles long, and a riparian trail along Ackerly Creek. You can take a little excursion off the Trolley Trail as you pick up the Tunkhannock Hiking Trail. You will pass Seamans’ Cemetery and Seamans’ Pond, which both serve as reminders of the Seamans family farm that became a part of Keystone’s campus in 1960s. Along this trail, you will find Keystone Apiary nestled in the apple orchard, a deer enclosure and then the sugar shack as you return back to the Trolley Trail.


Enjoy the views and fishing spots along the creek.


The trails are open seven days a week from dawn until dusk and are reserved for foot traffic only. ATVs and horses are strictly prohibited, and bikes are allowed only on the Trolley Trail.  Please take only photos and leave only footprints.


Join Us for a Hike & Hot Cocoa on January 22



Starting to feel that cabin fever? #GetYourTailontheTrail and join us for this free event for the whole family! Meeting at the Eckel Pavilion at Keystone College at 2 p.m. on January 22, we will depart for a short hike through the Woodlands Campus. Before we get too cold, we will head back to the Eckel Pavilion for hot cocoa, snacks and a bonfire to keep our guests warm. Please visit Facebook and RSVP “Going” on this event to help us prepare enough snacks.

And don’t forget to sign up for our program to compete in the winter challenge, kicking off shortly after this event!

A map of campus can be found here. The Eckel Family Pavilion is number 5 on this map.