Cary Mountain Vista
It is surprising how much beauty surrounds Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. There are gorges, vistas, waterfalls, and other natural wonders that surround the cities and towns that we travel through everyday. This region is sitting on an outdoor recreation goldmine and could be a tourism destination.
One such place hiding in plain sight are the views from Cary Mountain in State Game Land 307, near Archbald. This view is ideal for sunsets and is situated at a dramatic cliff of white conglomerate rock. It provides an 180 degree view from the Lackawanna Valley to the farmlands to the north. The hike is about one mile, one way, and is fairly easy to navigate once you know what to look out for. No trails are blazed or marked. Parking is at 41.525317, -75.567449.
From the parking area, simply hike up the gated Game Commission road under some powerlines. Where the powerlines turn left, continue up the hill along the gravel road. The climb is a little steep, but not too difficult. You may hear a small stream flowing off to the right. The surrounding forests are comprised of hardwoods, mostly oak trees. As the terrain begins to level off, look for a small overgrown meadow area on the right; this is about .75 mile into the hike. Turn right and follow an old forest road or ATV trail; you may also see a footpath. Cross a wet area. The trail becomes more distinct as it climbs uphill and soon large cliffs loom off to your right. Rocks adorn the forest floor below the cliff. Reach the ridge and look for more faint trails to the right, while a footpath veers left. Turn right and hike a path through the brush.
Follow the trail to the top of the cliffs and enjoy the views. It is a very beautiful spot. This is a broad ledge of exposed rock. The white rock gleamed in the sun. To the north are the farmlands of Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties. Mountains rise in the middle of the view. To the south are the towns in the Lackawanna Valley. Pine trees grow from the bare rock and lowbush blueberry bushes adorn the site, making it a great destination in the fall when the leaves of the bushes turn bright red. We sat there a while in a frigid breeze, taking in the scenery. Woodlands spread out below us as forest ridges rose in the distance. It was hard to believe a place this scenic could be located so close to an urban area. Despite the proximity, we could hear no noises or traffic. A short distance to the southeast, off trail, is an open meadow with nice views to the east. Return the way you came.
Jeff Mitchell is the District Attorney of Wyoming County, and author of 'Hiking the Endless Mountains,' 'Backpacking Pennsylvania,' and 'Paddling Pennsylvania.'