Small Town Stores: Bill & Cindy’s Valley Store, Fishing Creek, Dauphin

Valley Store near Boyd Big Tree
Valley Store near Boyd Big Tree

I often go hiking at Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation area in Dauphin County and the thing I like to do best after hiking is have a nice cold Coke (sorry water drinkers…. it is a weakness) and some ice cream.

Valley Store front
Valley Store front

Just down the road from Boyd Big Tree is Bill and Cindy’s Valley Store.  Pennsylvania is famous for the small stores that carry pretty much everything and nothing at the same time.  We don’t have Walmart around here (nor do we want them) or grocery stores, but we do have these magic little places where you can get a snack and a drink, cold cuts for sandwiches and probably just the very thing you are missing for tonight’s dinner menu.

Ice Cold Coke - 75 cents
Ice Cold Coke – 75 cents

So stop by the Valley Store next time you are at Boyd’s.  An ice cold can of Coke from outside will set you back 75 cents.  Just be careful pulling back out on the road, folks travel fast in these parts.

Hello Box Turtle!

Box Turtle
Box Turtle

I was out hiking the Creek Trail at Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation area yesterday and I met this really nice turtle.  Turns out he is a box turtle.

How did I find that out for sure?  Well, I had a book at home but I double checked it on www.paherps.com which is a great website covering PA’s reptiles and amphibians.

Boyd Big Tree Creek Trail – Dry Summer Weather

Boyd Big Tree Creek Trail Blue Blazes
Boyd Big Tree Creek Trail Blue Blazes

On a very hot and humid Thursday afternoon I decided to take a walk to try to get rid of my headache.  Sometimes being someplace quiet and alone is better than a pill.

Boyd Big Tree Park Sign
Boyd Big Tree Park Sign

Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area is a short drive from my home and the Creek Trail there is a favorite of mine.  Deep in shade with the sounds of a rock hidden stream it reminds me of the hikes I used to take with my mother on Second Mountain behind the house she grew up in when I was a kid.  That kind of stuff stays with you – so take your kids hiking folks.

Boyd Big Tree "Comfort Facilities"
Boyd Big Tree “Comfort Facilities”

Anyway, Boyd Big Tree is a Conservation Area which means it is largely undeveloped.  There are “comfort facilities” of the kind that make you wish for a very nice tree to happen along when there is a need.  Your kids will NOT want to use them so be prepared.

Boyd Big Tree Creek Trail Rocks
Boyd Big Tree Creek Trail Rocks

The Creek Trail is number 4 on the park brochure you can pick up at the information board near the parking area and it is a short .9 mile hike.  The bright blue blazes mark the way.  It is not difficult hiking unless it is raining.   Some of the trail is rock steps or bordered by rock and they get quite slippy in the rain.

The trail also crosses water in several places with rock crossings and if there has been a lot of rain some of them might be a little tricky.  Be prepared.

Trail Crossing Stream
Trail Crossing Stream

My first trip on this trail was taken with a two and a three year old along just after a rain and it was quite an adventure.  I had to lift them over quite a few of the crossings and on the steep sections we had a few scary moments but we made it.

This trip, made on September 3, 2015 showed the driest conditions I had ever seen.  We’d gone nearly two weeks without substantial rain so it wasn’t surprising.

Pond with Oil
Pond with Oil

I first hiked to the pond but was dismayed to find the sheen of oil covering about a fifth of it.  It is spring fed so have no idea how it got there but I’m sure there was a person or persons involved.

The good news was the other end of the pond was normal with fish and water bugs galore.

I went to the far side of the pond and picked the Creek Trail up from there.  A downed tree across the path was a small surprise but easily navigated.  Then I met up with a really nice box turtle.  He posed for me while I took his picture.

One cairn is fine, but I saw far too many
One cairn is fine, but I saw far too many

I saw a number of cairns people had left behind.  I have mixed feelings when seeing these rock structures.  On one hand it is comforting to see a remnant of another person in nature.  On the other hand they are disruptive to the landscape when there are too many of them and on this trip I saw many more than I would have wanted to. They are certainly not needed as trail guides with the marked trees happening often enough that it is hard to get lost.

It was a nice two-hour trip and did help me get rid of my headache so once again the nature remedy worked.  I usually try to follow up a hiking trip with a visit to the Valley Store down the road for ice cream.  To get there just turn right out of the Boyd Big Tree access road and the store will be a short distance along Fishing Creek Valley Road on your left.  They are open seven days a week.

Valley Store near Boyd Big Tree
Valley Store near Boyd Big Tree

To see more photos from Boyd Big Tree Preserve, check out my Boyd Big Tree album on Flickr