A blissful day in Beartown
Birds chirping. Bees buzzing. Thunder rumbling in the distance. Ahh, the sounds of Beartown State Park.
Ever since I was a little girl, Beartown has been my favorite place in the county. Nestled at the bottom of the county, Beartown is a tranquil, lush natural area that looks like it is straight out of the Jurassic age or a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.
The area of 107 acres was purchased in 1970 with funds from the Nature Conservancy and a donation from Mrs. Edwin G. Polan. Polan made the donation in memory of her son, Ronald Keith Neal, who lost his life in the Vietnam War.
The park was left in its natural state. The only development is a boardwalk that leads visitors through the maze of rock formations and forested areas.
Named for the cavernous areas that are perfect for hibernation of native black bears, Beartown is a journey through the geological past.
The massive rock formations are reminders of how the county was formed, through the movement of rock formations to create mountains, hills and valleys.
I love the pureness of Beartown. Other than the boardwalk, which does not disturb the trees and rocks, the park is as it was for centuries. The moss covered rocks have craters that seem to be perfect homes for fairies, if they only existed.
A placard placed at the entrance of the boardwalk sums up the allure of Beartown:
ﾓHidden within the rocks is the beginning of a story that really has no endingﾅ the formation of rocks and their gradual destruction by the forces of nature; only to be incorporated into new rocks later.ﾔ
As you wind around, under and through the rock formations, you seem to be transported to a different world. Even the rain doesnﾒt reach the top of your head. With the silence, cool breeze and smell of nature surrounding you, itﾒs impossible to have a bad day at Beartown.
At several points on your walk, the rocks reach out to hug you and make you do a little dance to get around them. They even have personalities and take on familiar shapes, like the ﾓCraken faceﾔ and the ﾓpiranhaﾔ which juts its head out onto the boardwalk railing.
Of course, these are the names Iﾒve given them, you may see something else. Thatﾒs the beauty of Beartown, it releases your creativity.
For those who make the journey as a group, there are several spots where the boardwalk widens and has benches for a rest or picnic. Just remember to take your trash out with you. Beartown is not a natural trashcan.
I remember my first visit to the park with my family, which included my aunt and uncle. My uncle is an adventurous person who found it hard to refrain from climbing the rocks, until he saw a soda can placed in one of the rockﾒs craters. He climbed up, grabbed the can and carried it out of the park.
Although climbing isnﾒt permitted in the park, I think my uncle was exempt for picking up someoneﾒs litter. Keeping the park clean is a way to keep it alive, and adds to the magnificent, one-of-a-kind experience you have in the park.
Visitors to Beartown this year will notice a new boardwalk. The park was closed to the public this fall in order for an 800 foot stretch of boardwalk to be replaced. It seems odd to see the untouched lumber in such an ancient place, but it wonﾒt take long for the new section to look like the rest of the boardwalk, as it becomes a part of the park ﾖ covered in moss and aged by the elements.
The boardwalk is not handicapped accessible, but there is a trail to the left of the boardwalk entrance that is wheelchair friendly.
So whether you are a fan of nature and history, need a place to meditate, or you just want to act out the scene from ﾓDirty Dancingﾔ where Baby practices dancing down the boardwalk steps, Beartown is the perfect place for all your needs.