Varden Conservation Area

Virginia Bluebells blossoms

What is a Conservation Area?

Conservation areas are donated to the PA Bureau of State Parks and therefore are governed by different rules.


A gift from veterinarian Dr. Mead Shaffer, the 444-acre Varden Conservation Area is in Wayne County. This magnanimous gift is in an area that was once a remote section of the state, which is now beginning to feel the pressure of development. The land will be protected and used for future generations as a respite from daily life. Varden is a place to learn about Pennsylvania’s wonderful natural history. The property is managed by Promised Land State Park, which is in Pike County.

"Environmental education always has been a primary concern of mine. I trust this land will allow present and future generations to observe and study the diverse ecology found in the Varden Conservation Area." - Dr. Shaffer

Visit for more information.

Click here to see the NOAA weather for this park.
Click on the Map It! logo to go to an interative GIS map of this park.

Hiking  -  Fishing  -  Hunting  -  Cross-country Skiing  -  Education

Seasons and Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk. Contact the Promised Land State Park office for facility seasons and hours.

Fishing: The pond in the Tannery Tract has largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish. Middle Creek provides trout fishing.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Hunting and Firearms: The Tannery Tract is open to hunting, trapping, and dog-training during established seasons. Common game species are deer, bear, and turkey.

Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the Promised Land State Park office for ADA accessible hunting information.

Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s vehicle or enclosed trailer. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.

Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.

Hiking: Varden Conservation Area offers a variety of short hiking trails through farm fields, forests, and wetlands. Please stay on the trails and respect private property.

Tannery Tract Trails: 4.4 miles of trails

Bluebird Trail: 0.71 mile
This trail winds around the edges of meadows and is a good trail for observing plants and animals. Numerous bluebird boxes along the trail are monitored by volunteers.

Middle Creek Trail: 0.45 mile
This trail follows the course of Middle Creek at the edge of a large, flat meadow and ends at the conservation area boundary.

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.Pond Loop Trail: 0.73 mile
This ADA accessible trail begins at the teaching pavilion in the Tannery Tract, loops around to Middle Creek, passes through a forested area around a pond, and then wraps back to the pavilion.

Shortcut Trail: 0.1 mile
This wooded road is between Steel Tower Trail and the barn on Tannery Trail.

Steel Tower Trail: 0.27 mile
This trail traverses the road beneath a portion of a power line.

Tall Timber Trail: 0.35 mile
This rugged trail winds through forest connecting Wood Tower Trail to Tannery Trail.

A trail covered in fallen leaves disappears into the forest at Varden Conservation Area, Pennsylvania.Tannery Trail: 0.63 mile
This trail begins on Pond Trail at the footbridge that crosses Middle Creek. Tannery Trail crosses an old meadow, winds through a hemlock forest, and then merges with Bluebird Trail. Most of the trail follows an abandoned township road.

Wildcat Trail: 0.37 mile
This trail starts off of Hemlock Road, across from the Western Wayne Middle School entrance, and winds through the forest and connects with Bluebird Trail in a meadow.

Wood Tower Trail: 0.79 mile
This trail begins on Bluebird Trail, intersects Tall Timber Trail, and ends near Middle Creek. Wood Tower Trail follows the original power line built in the 1920s to carry electricity from Lake Wallenpaupack to the Lackawanna Valley.

Mid Valley Tract Trails: 3.32 miles of trails

Bear Paw Trail: 0.62 miles
This trail begins at the Mid Valley Tract access area then splits into a loop that follows the western edge of the park and travels through a conifer plantation planted by Dr. Shaffer.

Beechwood Trail: 0.15 mile
A branch off of Overlook Ridge Trail, Beechwood Trail travels through northern hardwood forests and a utility right of way.

Critters Run: 0.08 mile
The shortest trail in the conservation area, Critters Run connects the northern and southern portions of Overlook Ridge Trail. Hemlock, white pine, and many northern hardwoods border this trail.

Deer Run: 0.12 mile
This trail bisects Overlook Ridge Trail, going east to west and through a utility right-of-way.

Holster Creek Trail: 0.55 mile
This trail follows Middle Creek, then crosses Mid Valley Road to meet Shaffers Way Trail. Diverse vegetation can be seen along Holster Creek Trail.

Overlook Ridge Trail: 1.14 miles
Beginning and ending on Bear Paw Trail, Overlook Ridge Trail travels the heart of the Mid Valley Tract. This is an excellent trail to see many tree species, including hemlock, white pine, red maple, and ash.

Pond View Trail: 0.43 mile
This trail intersects with Shaffers Way Trail twice, and then loops partway around the spring-fed pond. Amphibians and other wildlife can be seen during the spring and summer months.

Shaffers Way: 0.23 mile
Connecting Overlook Ridge and Pond View trails, and intersecting Holster Creek Trail, Shaffers Way travels through hundreds of conifers planted by the man who donated the property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Cross-country-Skiing: All trails are recommended for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing when conditions permit.

Environmental Education and Interpretation

Varden Conservation Area offers a wide variety of environmental education programs. Through hands-on activities, guided walks, and special events, participants gain appreciation and understanding, as well as develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.

Standards-based environmental education programs are available to school and youth groups. Programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by contacting the environmental education specialist at the Promised Land State Park office.

Programs are offered from April through October. Many programs feature the abundant wildlife and forest management practices that can be seen in the conservation area. For more detailed information on programs, contact Promised Land State Park.

Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.

Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.

Access for People with Disabilities

The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.