Monday, January 21, 2013

Endless options to enjoy a good hike.

How fitting that after all last week of 40-50 degree weather and thinking of camping all week Mother Nature sees fit to remind all of us that it's January, we're in northwest PA, and as long as that lake isn't frozen a lake effect snow event, can and will arrive. 

While many of my friends are bemoaning the return of winter, I can't lie, I'm pretty excited.  And after being demolished by a horrible colds/infections over the last 4 weeks I need to get outside and feel fresh air. 

There's plenty of opportunities, even in the dead of winter with 12 inches of snow on the ground. 

Presque Isle State Park is running their New Year's resolution walk series.  This informational walk series takes place every Thursday night and has a different track to walk each time.  This is such a great way to explore an area many of us visit all summer, but rarely see in the beauty of winter.

Asbury woods has well groomed hiking trails that runners and dog walkers love spring summer and fall, why not explore them in the depth of winter?  The trails are still there, it's a great workout to break trail through the snow, and the blanket of white actually helps animals to stand out in the woods, so you're likely to see more animals this time of year.

Wintergreen Gorge hiking trail is an underdeveloped gem on the edge of the city.  The small public parking lot on the north end will likely keep it this way, and the topography doesn't exactly lend itself to easy going hikes.  The main trail is a mountain biker/cross country runners dream workout, buring legs and lungs.  Having grown up within a couple miles, I've had the opportunity to explore minor paths, and the place is amazing, and has so much potential.

To mention a truly underdeveloped public space:  Six Mile Creek Park, in Greene township is fundamentally unknown, and still stuck in the development phases.  Zoom in a Google Map on the area of I-90 and Station Rd, and all of a sudden you'll see a large green swath named Six Mile Creek Park.  How underdeveloped this is, is quite unfortunate, because this park could rival Asbury woods/Brown's farm area for public trail access and vast natural space preserved for public use.

One final property, or group of properties of note are the State Game Lands in northwest PA.  Yes these are areas typically used by hunters, but the reality is, they are public lands open to anyone.  Each one typically has well-developed parking areas, and several have nice trail systems that you can easily hike and explore.  SGL 109 has multiple access points along Rt 97, and SGL 218 is easily accessible from Rt 8 and has multiple paved parking lots for your use.  Hunters can and are using the areas, so it would be a good idea to throw an orange cap on, and be respectful of the area you're sharing with them.

I could go on for days with different areas, but I'll save those for later blogs.

Happy Exploring
Scott M

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