It’s been a little while since I’ve uploaded any new hiking blogs. I haven’t been able to get out as much after being diagnosed with a Chronic Illness that’s known to cause widespread pain. As time passes, I am slowly learning my new physical abilities and limitations. I needed a trail that wasn’t too strenuous, and one that could help me build back my physical strength. The local Lake Grubb Nature Park trail is perfect for that. It’s a 1.3-mile loop circling Lake Grubb. There are a few inclines, but nothing too steep. This trail is perfect to get me back out there. I know it’ll take time to get back to my previous physical capabilities. It’ll just take a lot of work and patience on my part.
I chose Lake Grubb not only for its nature, but because it has a bit of history as well. Nestled in West Hempfield Township between Ironville Pike and Hempfield Hill Road is Lake Grubb Nature Park. At one time a thriving iron ore mill (hence the nearby village of Ironville), which eventually struck water and filled to form Lake Grubb.
The Grubb Family Iron Dynasty was a succession of iron manufacturing enterprises owned and operated by Grubb family members for more than 165 years. Collectively, they were Pennsylvania’s leading iron manufacturer between 1840 and 1870.
The historic name of the location is Chestnut Hill, and it was owned by the descendants of Peter Grubb, better known for his founding of the still-standing Cornwall Furnace in Lebanon County in 1742. Later, in 1851 the Chestnut Hill Iron Ore Company was incorporated and remained active until 1907. From this site thousands of tons of ore was mined and then sent to nearby anthracite furnaces to be processed. These furnaces were primarily located along the Susquehanna River between Marietta and Columbia, Pennsylvania. Due to higher grades of ore found in other parts of the country, and more efficient technologies, this site and others in Pennsylvania gradually closed.
The several ore properties at Chestnut Hill, which adjoin each other, were, when taken as a whole, one of the largest hematite ore deposits in Pennsylvania. Ore was first discovered on the Greider farm, between 1825 and 1832, by the engineer Simeon Guilford. Most of the furnaces in and around Columbia and Chickies depended on these mines for their principal supply of ore.
Grubb’s heirs sold most of the original properties between 1786 and 1803 to Robert Coleman, who became Pennsylvania’s first millionaire and whose operations were continued through the 19th century by his heirs
Mountville Borough used the lake as its water supply until about 2000. When the borough stopped drawing water, the lake’s level rose. The borough, which owns the land, and West Hempfield Township used state funding and grants to turn the site into a park, which opened in July 2003.
Now, a one-mile trail full of hills encircles the 13-acre lake, surrounded on either side by trees, creating a jungle-like feel. The trail itself consists of mostly dirt, with gravel areas sprinkled throughout. The dirt path can make for wet and slippery hiking, though. With the heavy foliage looming overhead, the sun does not touch much of the trail, so mud might not dry for several days after a heavy rain. There are various openings along the trail in which a view of the lake and its surroundings can be enjoyed. These openings provide a bench or two so hikers can take a break.
Two pavilions with electrical outlets can comfortably hold 100 people for events. Bathrooms are also available, making the park family friendly and comfortable for daylong fishing trips. Pets are not permitted in the park.
For more information on Lake Grubb, visit www.twp.west-hempfield.pa.us and go to “Parks and Recreation,” or call 285-5554.