On a visit to Hogback Ridge Park Wednesday, a visitor saw a doe along the Pine Grove Trail. They eyed each other quizzically for what seemed like a minute, and the foraging deer sauntered off into the woods as the visitor fumbled to take a blurry photo.
Without even trying, the visitor ended up seeing squirrels, rabbits, and a groundhog wandering around Hogback Ridge, one of the Preservation Parks of Delaware County. Walking along Pine Grove, the visitor thought others were talking nearby at the maintenance area. However, further along the trail there was a wildlife blind looking out onto a pond, where one could hear frogs calling each other. The park’s brochure said there are gray tree frogs and wood ducks in Hogback Ridge, and you’ll want to bring your binoculars and stay a while to see and here more as you look through sections of the fence.
“We have a pond here at Hogback Ridge Park, and there’s some snapping turtles in there,” said Sue Hagan recently before she retired as spokeswoman for Preservation Parks. “They’re pretty big, and when they surface the water, they have a scaly look. There were two of them mushed up together, and this guy didn’t know what they were. He took his camera and made this really cute little film that looked like the Loch Ness monster with a little animated raccoon hiding.”
Another animal you may see at Hogback are horses. The park shares a boundary with Alum Creek State Park, and its 39 miles of bridle trails include a stop near Hogback’s Nature Center. There’s parking, picnicking and restrooms at the Nature Center, along with exhibits, a drinking fountain, and plant garden. It also houses Preservation Parks’ district office.
“Preservation Parks is the natural area of parks system for Delaware County,” Hagan told Bob Hood, a California bicyclist who passed through the area recently on a cross-country ride. “We preserve some open space, do conservation, and provide places for people to recreate amid all the urban development. It’s places in the outdoors that we’re trying to keep from being developed. We want to have habitat for wildlife, we want to have fun places to go. Some of our parks are buffers along waterways. We want them to understand that we’re reclaiming prairies and reforesting. We’ve got new wetlands that are being built for habitat. That’s kind of a summary of what we’re all about.
“It’s making kids and people comfortable with wildlife and understanding what’s in nature,” Hagan continued. “It’s not only trying to get them to learn something new, but for them to get excited about being outdoors.”
Fittingly, the 41-acre Hogback Ridge is on Hogback Road, which has a Sunbury mailing address even though it’s near Kilbourne in Brown Township. From various vantage points on the Woodland Ridge Trail, visitors with vivid imaginations can picture the ridge they’re walking on as resembling a wild hog’s back. Woodland Ridge is connected to Pine Grove by a 610-foot ravine crossing. In all, there’s a mile of trails at Hogback.
Once you leave the park, you can continue north on Hogback Road. To your left is the uppermost part of Alum Creek State Park, with osprey nests visible through binoculars. Turning left onto state Route 521, there is a Kilbourne picnic area, with a canoe and kayak launch. Although the water levels were high, a kayaker was seen heading south Wednesday.
This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the various parks within Preservation Parks of Delaware County. Hogback Ridge Park is located at 2656 Hogback Road, Sunbury. For more information, visit preservationparks.com.