Enjoy your next meal tasting the goodness and unique flavors of Mother Nature when you hike and find edible items as you forage in Pennsylvania’s great outdoors – from fresh berries to wild plants to small insects. Be sure to forage safely to protect yourself and nature’s wonders. Read more from the state Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and learn how and where to forage this summer.
How to Forage Responsibly
Foraging, the practice of collecting edible plants such as wild berries, fungi, fruits, and nuts, is becoming a popular outdoor activity in Pennsylvania and beyond thanks to the influence of social media creators and outdoor enthusiasts. With July and August prime months to search and munch on Pennsylvania wild berries, be sure know which are safe, edible plants and berries and pick them carefully to protect the surrounding nature. You can become a foraging pro with DCNR’s resources and their blog post “How to Forage Responsibly in PA.” The golden rule of foraging – NEVER eat anything you can’t identify!
How To Find Foraging Locations in PA
You can gather an array of edible wild berries from throughout Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests managed by DCNR. Before you pick, be sure to research whether any wild berries, plants, or plant parts are listed as threatened, endangered, rare, or vulnerable. Note: Collection for business or commercial purposes is NOT allowed.
Guidelines at each park or forest may vary, so be sure to check out each location’s foraging protocol prior to your visit. Learn more about the wild berries you can find in PA for your next foraging adventure at the following state forest and parks:
1. Blueberry Trail
Follow Michaux State Forest’s 1.8-mile Blueberry Trail from the Anna Michener Cabin to Route 233 to the Adams/Cumberland County line to find the freshest and juiciest wild blueberries. The trail’s 800-foot elevation change provides the perfect environment for the blueberry plants you’ll find along the trail to give you a burst of energy or take a bunch home with you.
2. Blueberry Trail
This easy 1-mile hike is perfect for young ones to pick their way along Black Moshannon State Park’s Blueberry Trail. First, find frogs and birds splashing about in the small pond covered in duck weed. Venture deeper on the trail to find tasty raspberry and blueberry bushes perfect for foraging. Tip: Find the ripest blueberries in early to mid-July for the berry best snack along your journey.
3. Beaver Meadows Hiking Trail
Stroll along the three-mile Beaver Meadows Hiking Trail to discover Beaver Meadow’s Lake and, of course, blueberries! The first leg of the trail passes through a grassy savannah spotted with spruce and pine trees. Near the lake, keep your eye out for the small, fenced areas that protect the blueberry plants from deer browsing. Pass over the lake on a floating boardwalk to climb the rest of the trail and keep your eye out for the wandering wildlife.
4. Fourth Run Trail
Hickory Run State Park’s Fourth Run Trail is the longest trail in the park. This 4.8-mile trail passes through scenic landscapes and habitats. In mid-July, you can find the highbush blueberries at their ripest, providing a tasty snack for you, but forage responsibly because black bears, birds, and other animals also enjoy this gift of Mother Nature.
5. Thunder Swamp Trail System
Delaware State Forest’s 26-mile Thunder Swamp Trail System is a forager’s dream. Surrounded by nature’s masterpieces including mountain streams, swamps, a variety of forest types, and other natural features found on the Pocono Plateau, the trail offers numerous types of foods to forage. As you venture through the old spruce-and-fir forests, watch for deer, wild turkeys, and bears, and find ridges of mixed oak and blueberries.
6. Bear Meadows Natural Area
A National Natural Landmark, Bear Meadows Natural Area contains 890 acres of wetland with black spruce, red spruce, and balsam fir bordering large areas of highbush blueberry. Make sure to loop around the swamp for the best picking. The highbush berries found at Bear Meadows (in comparison to less flavorful, low-bush berries found at higher elevations along the Mid State Trail) may require a little more effort to reach but are so worth it!
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