Pretzel Tree Trail story plaque. Credit: Tiffany Doerr Guerzon
Pretzel Tree Trail at Squak Mountain State Park
The short, sweet Pretzel Tree Trail is a fun .3-mile loop in Squak Mountain State Park. It's perfect for introducing tots to nature, stretching your legs or getting warmed up for a longer hike. The trail features storyboards detailing the adventures of Field Mouse as he searches for the Pretzel Tree. Along the way, he meets other forest creatures and learns about how they fit into the local ecosystem.
Squak Mountain State Park has a good parking lot: Note you’ll need a Discover Pass to park there. There are pay stations near the pit-toilet restrooms in case you don’t have a pass already. Leashed dogs are welcome on this trail.
Enter the trail at the rear of the parking lot (opposite the restrooms). Walk along until you see a road. Cross the street and find the sign for the Pretzel Tree Trail. Take the trail straight ahead to read the story in the correct order. This path is mostly flat and really pretty. Along with the storyboards you will see hanging moss, nurse logs, ferns and maybe even a few wildflowers. You can also hear the babbling creek that is nearby and lots of birdsong. The tree canopy kept the temperature cool even on the sunny day we went.
The story was fun to read and kept even older kids going as they moved ahead to read the next part of the tale. Near the end, look for the trail's namesake, Pretzel Tree. It is two tree trunks that grew together, twisting around each other like a pretzel. I didn't actually find the tree so impressive, but it's worth checking out. The loop ends right back where you started and the kids may want to walk it again, as there is a lot to see.
Quick add-on hike to a bridge
For a short add-on to the Pretzel Tree Trail, find a sign a few feet down from where you exited the loop that says "May Valley Loop, Central Peak and Mountainside Drive." Take this trail up the hill until you reach a wooden bridge, about a third of a mile in. The bridge spans a stream that cascades over some rocks, making a little waterfall. After you check out the waterfall, just turn around and head back down. If you do both little hikes, the total distance is about 1.2 miles. There are picnic tables in the parking lot area to rest up and have a snack.