Places We Protect

Thomas Darling Preserve

Pennsylvania

A wide, meandering stream curves through tall golden grass disappearing from view as it bends to the right. The trees in the background lining the horizon are beginning to show fall color.
Thomas Darling Preserve Two-mile Run flows through the Thomas Darling Preserve in Pennsylvania. © Gates Rhodes

This groundwater-fed glacial wetland has one of the state’s largest and healthiest spruce forests.

Overview

Description

Named for Wilkes-Barre naturalist Thomas Darling, Jr., this preserve attracts interest in every season. In spring, large sweet viburnum shrubs decorate the preserve with white, flat-topped flowers releasing a musty odor that earns them the nickname of sheepberry. And sheep laurel and bog laurel thrive in the preserve’s acidic soils.

During autumn, the landscape bursts with cotton grass, along with a colorful palette of wildflowers and blueberries. Year-round, spongy sphagnum moss blankets an array of swamps, fens, bogs and wet meadows encircled by stands of balsam fir, tamarack and one of Pennsylvania’s largest native spruce forests.

For more than twenty years, The Nature Conservancy has managed this largely wooded and undeveloped landscape. Together with partners, TNC continues to seek opportunities to acquire additional property to expand the preserve, enhancing opportunities for outdoor recreation and protecting the natural legacy of this region.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Hours

Daily, from dawn to dusk

Highlights

Hiking, birdwatching, wildlife. Explore the preserve via a two-mile trail and boardwalk system. Seasonal hunting is permitted according to PA State Game Commission regulations.

Size

2,500 acres

Explore our work in Pennsylvania

Visit

  • What to See: Plants and Animals

    In the springtime, visitors are treated to colorful flowering shrubs that are in bloom from May through June. In late summer and early fall, blueberries are ripe for picking.

    Evoking the area’s glacial past, the preserve includes boreal wetlands with native black spruce, balsam fir and tamarack surrounded by a forest of northern hardwoods such as eastern hemlock and red spruce. Flowering shrubs and rare plants like bog sedge, thread rush and creeping snowberry can be found throughout the understory.

    The area also teems with wildlife typical of the Pocono Plateau, including black bears, eastern coyotes, snowshoe hares, beavers and a variety of breeding birds such as Canada warbler, black-billed cuckoo, scarlet tanager, barred owl, osprey, golden-crowned kinglet and dark-eyed junco.

  • Community Science: iNaturalist

    We are creating a science database of all kinds of life—from lichens to ants, mushrooms to plants, birds to mammals and everything in between for our preserves in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

    TNC's roots began with local citizens and scientists concerned about special places and species. That legacy continues today. Across our lands, we are utilizing iNaturalist—a digital platform that gives users an opportunity to share and discuss their findings.

    Of the 14 preserve projects in iNaturalist, nine have observations recorded; help us increase that number and our understanding of the species—good and bad, native as well as invasive—that can be found on TNC lands across the state. This information can also help guide and inform our conservation staff's management and monitoring decisions.

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Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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