By Carol Hillestad for the Pocono Heritage Land Trust

More than 40 years ago, land that had once been part of a pig farm caught the attention of a local educator, naturalist and conservationist. It’s easy to see why this particular Stroudsburg, Monroe County parcel caught his eye. There were pristine woodlands. Limestone cliffs. A beautiful stretch of McMichaels Creek. Wetlands and wildflowers.

And although Pocono Heritage Land Trust didn’t exist yet, future board member Don Miller couldn’t help dreaming — and acting.

He started talking with the owners, and it became clear that, at the time, the Pomeroys were not interested in protecting the property. In fact, at one point they tried marketing it as a million-dollar private estate.

No matter. Over years to come, Miller kept the conversation going. In time, he and others met with the Pomeroy children and grandchildren. More seasons passed. Meetings sporadically continued.

Eventually, the conversation turned to “yes.”

Now, after talks with three generations — and the creation of Pocono Heritage Land Trust– the Pomeroy McMichaels Creek Nature Preserve will officially open to the public with a ribbon-cutting on June 5, and a guided walk to follow.

This time of year, the meadow that surrounds the trailhead is unassuming; its beauty will blossom with the summer heat.

A short walk leads to a broad, fast, sparkling reach of McMichaels Creek. The silvery, swirling water dazzles the eyes; its splash and ripple seem to slow the heartbeat and relax the mind.

A well-worn trail hugs the bank and leads downstream, past a shimmering wetland and the “kuk-kuk” call of a wood frog.

On a recent May day, native spring wildflowers such as trout lily, spring beauty, violets and pearly everlasting put on a show, along with skunk cabbage, false hellebore and May apple. Jack-in-the-pulpit and red trillium glowed in a setting of emerald mosses.

Past a grand old ironwood tree, the trail enters a quiet hemlock wood as the creek swings wide, bends, and deepens. A steep limestone cliff on the other side is mantled in native rhododendrons, some rooted in the bare rock.

Nearly hip-deep in the flowing stream, a fisherman is intent on the mesmerizing rhythm of casting and retrieving, over and over and over again.

But you don’t have to love fishing to enjoy this jewel of a place. Come introduce yourself to the Pomeroy McMichaels Nature Preserve. After more than 40 years, isn’t it time?

June 5 Opening

Join Pocono Heritage Land Trust members and friends at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, June 5 to celebrate the grand opening of the Pomeroy McMichaels Nature Preserve.

Pomeroy McMichaels Nature Preserve is less than 10 minutes from downtown Stroudsburg, Pa., at 675 Hickory Valley Road, Stroudsburg, Monroe County. GPS: 40.961387, -75.249603

The preserve boasts a half-mile of McMichaels Creek and connects to Stroud Township’s Hickory Valley Park. Trailhead is along the Stroud Greenway/Bike to Nature Trail, and features a bike pump and repair station behind the kiosk sign, courtesy of a 1% for Nature grant.

Activities: Walking, catch-and-release fishing, spring wildflower spotting, photography, daydreaming. No facilities or trash cans. Please pack out what you pack in.

Leashed dogs of considerate owners are welcome. Watch for poison ivy, which is abundant along the trail.

For a map of adjoining Hickory Valley Park.