Allegheny Outdoor Adventures Bradford, PA

... Marilla Springs Trail conditions are: MUDDY! ...

Marilla Springs Trail

The Giants of Marilla

With the opening of the new "Marilla Spring Trail" in Bradford, there is a new "discovery" of sorts. Undoubtedly, for years, some locals knew they were there. But, with many people hiking the new Marilla Spring Trail, many new people are discovering these Old Growth ancient trees "popping up" all over the place!

How did they get there? How old are they? Why weren't they cut? All good questions.

First of all, it seems because of the terrain, being rocky and very wet and soft, nobody wanted to, OR COULDN'T, cut these giants.

I am not by any stretch, a "tree expert", but I have been shown how to identify "old trees", by tree experts. I have been to many old growth forests in the eastern US, and these trees really measure up!

My best guess is that some are 300 to 350 years old and maybe older! This is quite a find for Bradford considering the fact that nearly every hill around was stripped bare, down to the dirt, around the turn of the century (the last one!). These trees were fortunate enough to have grown in the very secluded (and scenic) "hollow" if you will, tucked away where nobody noticed. Or like I said before, the ground was just too rocky and soft to be able to skid these giants out of where they grow. Even today with modern equipment, it would be quite a task.

The "Giants of Marilla" start near the road at the western end of the Marilla Reservoir off West Washington Street, or (Rt. 346 to you non-locals). If you hike the Marilla Reservoir Trail, you will see them from the "Horns Passage" bridge, where it crosses "Little Marilla Creek". You can stand on the bridge and look upstream and view quite a few of these majestic giants. If you are sharp, it's here you will spot the queen of all the giants in this stand, "Miss Marilla" as named by one of the early caretakers of this property. "She" measures 10'4" around her base!

After viewing this stand of Old Growth giants, you can hike the Reservoir in a southerly direction and cross a second wooden bridge. At the gazebo, you can turn right onto the new Marilla Spring Trail.

Right away you will notice you are among some really old trees! For the next few miles you will be in a mixed woods with plenty of old growth giants. There are reportedly small stands of Virgin White Pine, among the old Hemlocks, Maples, Oaks and Cherry.

It's actually remarkable to find a mix of these different trees all in one fairly small area.

You may notice that many are "stunted" near the tops where at one point the tops of the trees were "blown off" or broken, but the tree still grew.

On some, the bark is real coarse, while others show signs of "balding". You will also notice on some, how high off the ground the first branches are, all signs of ancient trees.

The trail goes south as you hike the Marilla Creek upstream toward it's origin. The creek, always alongside you, is a beautiful brook full of small cascades and waterfalls along the way. This makes for a very beautiful setting for these magnificent giants of the forest.

Who'd a thought Bradford would have an "old growth forest" in it's midst? Not I, for one.

I'm hoping to get a "tree expert" friend of mine, Bruce Kershner (famous book author) interested in checking these out and maybe identifying and aging the biggest of the bunch.

I've talked to a few locals who "always knew they were there", but now with the opening of the new Marilla Spring Trail, everybody can enjoy hiking among these truly remarkable trees I call "The Giants of Marilla".

John Stoneman 3/9/06

Click here to read

Here are some photos from Marilla:

Horn's Crossing Bridge over Little Marilla Creek


The gang at the Burnt Tree


King of the Marilla Giants


Pointing out the bear claw marks





The covered bridge with the reservoir drained


Another of the giants


Sadie near "Miss Marilla"


An old narrow Gage railroad track


A mysterious ring around a dead tree


Very old log exposed when the res was drained and the creek cut deeper into the ground. This tree may have been buried for thousands of years!


Here is a list of the "highlights" along the Marilla trails you might want to check out.

  • "Miss Marilla" The first "big old" tree near the road
  • "Big Bend", a nice pool and bend in the creek
  • "King of the Marilla Giants" giant White Pine
  • Large Stone Foundation
  • Small Stone Foundation
  • The Leprechaun Tree
  • The stand of "Virgin White Pines"
  • The "Burned Out Giant"
  • A long lost Bench Mark (not yet found)
  • The "Burnt Store" (not yet found)
  • The "Hemlocks on the Hill" (near giant boulders)
  • The Large rock area
  • The large and small beaver dams
  • Watch for more great "discoveries" yet to be made!

    Here is a map to the Marilla Reservoir west of Bradford on 346 AKA West Washington Street.



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