Just one mile north of tiny Thompson Borough on Route 171 in rural Susquehanna County, the 357-acre Florence Shelly Preserve boasts fields, woodlands, a stream, and a glacial pond surrounded by a floating bog. 2 1/2 miles of trail.
Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve, a mile north of Thompson, PA, is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. It’s easy to drive past the entrance to this 400-acre neighborhood wilderness without ever knowing that just beyond the trees lining the roads are such natural wonders as a deep, ancient glacial pond; a stand of balsam firs, rare this far south; a stream certified to be of exceptional purity; and diverse species of wildlife, including beaver, bear, otters, many birds, and even the occasional mountain lion.
Trails lead along a variety of terrains and offer many surprises. By the stream you may discover tufts of thick black fur stuck in the sap of hemlock trees that bears have scratched. At an observation tower overlooking a pond you can watch beavers and migrating birds. Other sights, attest to the human history of the land, such as a stately row of maple trees planted in a row in the 19th century to facilitate sugar tapping.
The protection of this diverse natural area was spearheaded by Florence Shelly, who organized a committee of citizen naturalists and volunteer professors from SUNY Binghamton to characterize and inventory the property. They found a rare red alga (batrachorsermum vagum) at the outlet of Wier’s Pond and an abundance of biologically diverse habitat. Other species discovered at the preserve include insectivorous sundew and pitcher plants, black bears, otters, hummingbirds, and great- horned owls. The Shelly family donated the land to The Nature Conservancy in the 1980s; the purchase of nearby Plew’s Swamp completed the preserve.
You are invited to join the preserve’s regular walks, held May through October, organized and led by stewardship committee members. Check our Events page for the walk schedule, or come walk the trails any time of day, week, and year.
Give us a call first and we may even guide you to the far reaches of the preserve to see what special secrets nature chooses to reveal: (570) 727-3362 or (570) 879-4244!
Guide sheets for the trail are available at the enclosed trailhead just off Stack Road. An easy access boardwalk begins near the parking lot on Little Ireland Road and meanders through the hemlock forest to a look-out over the marsh.