Tucked in the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania, the Hammond Lake/Ives Run Recreation Area deserves to be much better known to birders than it is. This Army Corps of Engineers flood project is surrounded by Pennsylvania state game lands and has a large variety of habitats, including 680-acre Hammond Lake fed by Crooked Creek and Ives Run, fresh-water marshes, forested mountain slopes, an abundance of hedge rows, large brushy areas, and “agricultural” lands managed for wildlife by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It is not surprising that this great variety in habitat should support a large number of birds and a large number of species. Numerous raptors ply the skies at most times of the year and are easily seen, including bald eagles, ospreys, sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, red-tails, and broad-wings. More advanced birders may find their skills challenged by the abundance of swallows, the many species of sparrows found in the hedge rows, and by the flycatchers along Crooked Creek. Waterfowl, although not in the numbers one finds at a major wildlife refuge, are nevertheless plentiful depending on the time of year, and the area supports a sizeable population of breeding warblers. Wildlife in the area is also not limited to birds, and you are not likely to leave without first seeing at least several deer, a bear, a bobcat, a fox or a porcupine. Visitation to this large area by humans is surprisingly light, so there is much to be discovered here.
Driving Instructions: From the main traffic signal in Wellsboro, west on Route 6 for 2.6 miles, then 9.7 miles north on Route 287. Entrance to Ives Run Recreation Area is on the right. Make two right-hand turns immediately after the bridge (virtually a right hand U-turn) and continue on a dirt road to parking area below the bridge near the mouth of Crooked Creek. You can drive along Crooked Creek on the Railroad Grade Trail, but you will see more if you walk or ride a bike. The trail is especially beautiful in the second half of July when many wildflowers are in bloom and there is an abundance of butterflies. Alternately, make the first left after the bridge into a large parking area and park as close to the bridge as possible. Good birding along the edge of the lake and mouth of Crooked Creek. There are numerous large parking and picnicking areas all along the lake. Park maps are available at the visitors’ center.