A gift from veterinarian Dr. Mead Shaffer, the 444-acre Varden Conservation AreaOpens In A New Window is in Wayne County. This magnanimous gift is in an area that was once a remote section of the state, which is now beginning to feel the pressure of development.
The land will be protected and used for future generations as a respite from daily life. Varden is a place to learn about Pennsylvania’s wonderful natural history. The property is managed by Promised Land State Park, which is in Pike County.
Hiking at Varden Conservation Area
Varden Conservation Area offers a variety of short hiking trails through farm fields, forests, and wetlands. Please stay on the trails and respect private property.
Tannery Tract Trails: 4.4 miles of trails
This trail winds around the edges of meadows and is a good trail for observing plants and animals. Numerous bluebird boxes along the trail are monitored by volunteers.
Middle Creek Trail
This trail follows the course of Middle Creek at the edge of a large, flat meadow and ends at the conservation area boundary.
Pond Loop Trail
This activity or structure is ADA accessible.
This ADA accessible trail begins at the teaching pavilion in the Tannery Tract, loops around to Middle Creek, passes through a forested area around a pond, and then wraps back to the pavilion.
This wooded road is between Steel Tower Trail and the barn on Tannery Trail.
Steel Tower Trail
This trail traverses the road beneath a portion of a power line.
Tall Timber Trail
This rugged trail winds through forest connecting Wood Tower Trail to Tannery Trail.
This trail begins on Pond Trail at the footbridge that crosses Middle Creek. Tannery Trail crosses an old meadow, winds through a hemlock forest, and then merges with Bluebird Trail. Most of the trail follows an abandoned township road.
This trail starts off of Hemlock Road, across from the Western Wayne Middle School entrance, and winds through the forest and connects with Bluebird Trail in a meadow.
Wood Tower Trail
This trail begins on Bluebird Trail, intersects Tall Timber Trail, and ends near Middle Creek. Wood Tower Trail follows the original power line built in the 1920s to carry electricity from Lake Wallenpaupack to the Lackawanna Valley.
Mid Valley Tract Trails: 3.32 miles of trails
Bear Paw Trail
This trail begins at the Mid Valley Tract access area then splits into a loop that follows the western edge of the park and travels through a conifer plantation planted by Dr. Shaffer.
A branch off of Overlook Ridge Trail, Beechwood Trail travels through northern hardwood forests and a utility right of way.
The shortest trail in the conservation area, Critters Run connects the northern and southern portions of Overlook Ridge Trail. Hemlock, white pine, and many northern hardwoods border this trail.
This trail bisects Overlook Ridge Trail, going east to west and through a utility right-of-way.
Holster Creek Trail
This trail follows Middle Creek, then crosses Mid Valley Road to meet Shaffers Way Trail. Diverse vegetation can be seen along Holster Creek Trail.
Overlook Ridge Trail
Beginning and ending on Bear Paw Trail, Overlook Ridge Trail travels the heart of the Mid Valley Tract. This is an excellent trail to see many tree species, including hemlock, white pine, red maple, and ash.
Pond View Trail
This trail intersects with Shaffers Way Trail twice, and then loops partway around the spring-fed pond. Amphibians and other wildlife can be seen during the spring and summer months.
Connecting Overlook Ridge and Pond View trails, and intersecting Holster Creek Trail, Shaffers Way travels through hundreds of conifers planted by the man who donated the property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Wildlife Watching at Varden Conservation Area
There are many opportunities to see wildlife in the conservation area. The most common trees in the forest are the native red maple and hemlock. In addition to the native trees of the area, many trees were planted, including:
Blue, white, and Norway spruce
Red and white pine
Douglas and balsam fir
The diverse forest and wetland habitats produce ideal conditions for amphibians, mammals, and birds.
Common animals are:
Many species of birds
Fishing at Varden Conservation Area
Middle Creek provides trout fishing.
The pond in the Tannery Tract is a warmwater fishery.
Common species are:
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations and rules apply.
Hunting at Varden Conservation Area
During established seasons, the Tannery Tract is open to:
Training of dogs
Common game species are:
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas.
Cross-Country Skiing at Varden Conservation Area
All trails are recommended for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing when conditions permit. Contact Promised Land State Park for information about current conditions.