July 2012 Outing Report.
Poplar Lick, Savage River State Forest

July 14th, a group of us met to hike Poplar Lick from New Germany Road down to Savage River Road, a distance of 4.97 miles according to the map at the lower parking area.

The Route

Bob O'Donnell and his wife Pricilla, Rodger Johnson, his daughter Marsha and son in-law Jeremy, Lou Reichel, my wife Sheila, and I met at the intersection of Big Run Road and Savage River Road at 8am.

I was little concerned about the weather at first, reports calling for rain, but on the drive up it just sprinkled slightly. With temps in the mid 60s it felt quite cool after the recent 100 degree weather.

Wildlife was everywhere. A yearling bear of about 60-70 LBS crossed the road in front of me and Sheila just above the dam, and on the side trip to leave two vehicles at the lower lot we saw a hen turkey with a half dozen poults hunting bugs in the tall grass next to the road. Deer were numerous; we saw several does just inside the timber line grazing in sun lit patches of green, their spotted fawns bouncing and playing but always close to mama.

It was an easy hike, just a stroll really, the old road bed following the stream all the way. I think there are something like 5 bridges and maybe that many fords where the creek changes sides. The creek is low due to the drought. I didn't have a thermometer with me but from fording the creek I would guess the water temps somewhere in the low to mid 60s. We saw brook trout scurrying for cover at almost every pool which was a good sign.

A little over half way through, and not far from the memorial of the 1962 B-52 crash site, we flushed a dozen or so birds out of the waist high vegetation next to the road. There was some discussion whether they were quail or grouse; and while they were coveyed up like quail, and flushed like quail, they didn't make quail sounds and had more the coloration of grouse, mostly the red phase from the ones I could see. I suspect they were a couple of combined broods of young birds down to the old road picking gravel. There we're also quite a number of aquatic newts along the road, small orange and brightly spotted and lizard like, maybe they were feeding on them??

It took something over two hours to walk through, and like I said it was a great little stroll. For those folks who like to go leaf peeping in October this is a prime spot mid month, lots of bright yellows splashed with the dark green of hemlock. Be a nice place to pack a small rod and a picnic lunch and make a day of it. And there are numerous campsites with picnic tables if you want to spend a weekend end.

Dennis Covert