The leaves are beginning to change color. There’s a cool, crispness in the air. Fall is here! And it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy Pennsylvania’s wondrous natural places.
One of the most fun and educational outdoor activities to enjoy in Pennsylvania is organized walking or hiking. Why not participate on a day when hundreds of others are doing the same across the state? And for good reason—to celebrate and learn more about our forests during Walk in Penn’s Woods on Sunday, October 7.
The Purpose of Walk in Penn’s Woods
Walk in Penn’s Woods was created to educate Pennsylvanians about the value of forests by physically and mentally engaging them at a forested tract. The founders of Walk in Penn’s Woods—the Center for Private Forests at Penn State University and other partners, including the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)—intended the event to not just be a hike, but more importantly, a platform upon which forest experts could communicate with citizens about their forested setting, its value, and conservation.
Every walk has been designed to immerse citizens in the forest, while providing for the availability of forest experts to answer questions and explain aspects of the forest and its management.
DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry is proud to help plan, lead, and coordinate the 2018 Walk in Penn’s Woods event. This year’s walks will involve dozens of DCNR professionals who will serve as walk guides and interpreters.
Last year’s inaugural event tallied more than 1,000 participants and was a resounding success.
Currently, the Walk in Penn’s Woods website has nearly 70 walks scheduled in 48 counties across the commonwealth. Walks will occur on state and national forest lands, state parks, state game lands, and municipal and privately-owned woodlots.
Some walks are geared simply toward sightseeing, whereas others take routes prepared to rotate from one “forest station” to another. Forest topics mentioned in walk descriptions are almost too numerous to list — there are literally hikes for all types of forest enthusiasts.
The Walk in Penn’s Woods website lists walks by county and provides a brief explanation of venue, time, and theme/topics. This year’s walk topics include (but are not limited to):
- Tree and plant identification
- Forestry practices with demonstration areas
- Historical emphasis
- Scenic appreciation
- Birds/other fauna viewing
- Wildlife plantings/plots
- Water and geologic resources
- Ecology and succession
- Forest stewardship
Most walks are designed so that people of all fitness levels can enjoy them! They are not grueling, long hikes on extreme terrain. These hikes are also family and pet-friendly, typically.
However, some hike descriptions caution that pets are not allowed, while others are described as not appropriate for wheelchairs or strollers/small children. Please wear appropriate attire and footwear.
Walk descriptions also let you know if pre-registration is required.
Walk Events Spotlight
Here are some examples of walks that will be led by DCNR staff.
Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
Enjoy a walk with Lauren Forster, environmental education specialist supervisor for Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, and Richard Deppen, assistant forest manager for William Penn Forest District, who are hosting the walk at the center.
They will take you on a cultural, historical, and forest ecology tour. The walk will be approximately two miles long and take two hours. The walk is from 9:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M., and the address is Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, 400 Belfast Road, Nazareth, PA 18064.
Bald Eagle State Forest
Bald Eagle State Forest provides a unique learning experience to thousands of students, woodland owners, and other visitors about the importance of proper forest management. Please join service forester Gerald Hoy as he will teach tree and invasive plant identification, wildlife habitat strategies, hemlock management, timber harvesting practices, and more.
The walk is from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, and begins at Stony Run Road, Millmont, Pa.
Michaux State Forest
Enjoy a 2.5-mile hike on the Beaver Trail in Michaux State Forest, featuring the scenic Long Pine Run Reservoir. The walk is guided by DCNR Bureau of Forestry Environmental Education Specialist Ryan Reed.
The walk is from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM. You can park along Birch Run Road at the Beaver Trail trailhead.
Rothrock State Forest
Enjoy educational stations set up along a popular walking trail at the Musser Gap entry area to the Rothrock State Forest in Centre County. There will be a greeter at the trailhead parking lot with a handout directing participants to the approximately 15 stations on the trail ahead. This two-mile walk (one way) will be self-guided between the stations with at least one “station leader” at each stop. Learn from and ask questions of Rothrock State Forest District Forester Mark Potter.
The walk is from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, meeting at the Musser Gap Trail Parking Area.
Learn More about Penn’s Woods
Find all of the walks and plan your trip!
As you get ready to take a walk, remember fall foliage is in its beginning stages, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and start leaf peeping!
Check out DCNR’s 2018 Fall Foliage Reports, which are updated each week through the fall season, and learn about some of the factors that cause leaf color change and impact the fall foliage season in Pennsylvania.