Places We Protect

Thomas Darling Preserve

Pennsylvania

A thin wooden boardwalk curves through a meadow with tall brown grasses and fall colored red, orange, yellow, and light green shrubs and thin trees.
A Fall View A view of the boardwalk trail during the fall at Thomas Darling Preserve. © George Gress/TNC

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 20 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.

  • Preserve Guidelines

    While visiting the Thomas Darling Preserve, please DO: 

    • Take precautions against ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, and sunburn.
    • Wear sturdy footwear.
    • Pants are recommended, even during warmer months, when ticks are active and poison ivy is present.
    • Apply insect repellant and sun protection.
    • Bring drinking water.
    • Stay on marked trails.
    • Bikers must yield to hikers.
    • Remove all litter. This is a “carry-in carry-out” preserve. Don’t forget bags for dog waste if you’re bringing Fido.
    • Control your dogs. Leashes are not required but do not allow your dogs to chase the wildlife that live at this nature preserve.
    • Enjoy your time in nature.

    Please DO NOT:

    • Feed or disturb wildlife.
    • No trapping.
    • Do not remove plants, animals or other artifacts from the preserve.
    • Bring motorized vehicles, ATVs or horses.
    • Bring alcohol or firearms.
    • Camp. (No fires allowed!)
    • Swim in the pond.

Views from Thomas Darling Preserve

Explore the wildlife, plant species and scenery found around the Thomas Darling Preserve, located in Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania.

A closeup of a brightly colored orange mushroom grows in the soil.
A thin boardwalk path curves through a meadow of tall brown grasses and empty brown shrub branches.
A large boardwalk cuts through a dark wetland. Several tall and thin trees block the sunlight from touching the forest floor.
A wooden kiosk stands in a forest with maps and papers attached to it.
A close up image of a bright green fern.
A small brown and black speckled toad rests on top brown leaves and green pine on the forest floor.
A view from the ground looking up the trunk of a spruce tree. It's covered in rough brown bark and its branches outstretch out of side at the top.
A narrow wooden boardwalk stretched through a meadow of tall brown and green grasses. There are large green Spruce trees in the distance.
Several ferns and tall thin trees grow across a forest floor
A body of water reflects a blue sky and white clouds. It winds into the distance and is surrounded by grasses and trees.

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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