Although the Lehigh Valley hasn’t receive a lot of snowfall, as yet, that’s not true for the Pocono’s and northern-tier areas. Many of these areas are home to state forests and park systems and as such, are rolling out the welcome mat for winter visitors intent on enjoying cold-weather outdoor fun like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, tobogganing and snowmobiling.
Says DCNR Secretary Richard Allan, “We are hoping families seek out a sledding hill at a nearby state park or stroll on a forest trail and enjoy the beauty and peace winter landscapes offer.”
He goes on to say “For others, snowmobile and ATV trails have opened and anglers will he heading to our state forests and parks for seasonal ice fishing.”
Pennsylvania state parks also play host to a variety of winter festivals with games, dog-sled races, sleigh rides and fun competitions for families. To view scheduled activities go to www.getoutdoorspa.state.pa.us.
While some state parks are close enough for a day trip, other more distant ones offer overnight lodging. The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle offers a great launching point for winter activities like cross-county skiing or other outdoor adventures in Pennsylvania wilds. It offers, says DCNR, modern overnight accommodations and breakfast, as well as a large stone fireplace in the great room where guests can warm up after outdoor activities.
Several state parks also have winter cabin rentals available. Reservations can be made by calling toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
HIKING: For those who enjoy hiking, perhaps with snowshoes, the following state parks have miles of hiking trails, some of which have a variety of terrain from easy to difficult.
SKIING: Cross-county enthusiasts can enjoy more than 330 miles of marked cross-country ski trails on state forestland. There are nearly 400 miles of groomed and un-groomed cross-country ski trails in 73 state parks.
SNOWMOBILING: When conditions permit, snowmobiling is available where snow-machine riders have access to almost 3,000 miles of marked joint-use state forest roads, closed roads and trails in 18 of the state’s 20 state forest districts and 32 state parks. More than 170 miles of ATV trails in seven state forest districts are also open. DCNR maintains recorded reports through 877-SNOMBLE (877-766-6253) on snow depths and trail conditions across the state around noon each Tuesday and Thursday.
Some of the parks also offer ice-skating, ice fishing and ice boating.
GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOOR (Harrisburg) SHOW FEATURES INTERACTIVE EVENTS
The NRA sponsored Great American Outdoor Show (traditionally called the Harrisburg outdoor show), scheduled to be held Feb. 7-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, will feature interactive games and contests in addition to the more than 1,000 hunting, fishing and outdoor sports exhibitors.
Billed as a family show, those attending can enjoy some group fun at the Family Fun Zone in the Hunting Outfitter Hall according to Kyle Jillson, NRA’s media relations spokesperson. Jillson says this kid friendly area will be open every day and will feature stations for camo face painting, magnetic fishing, barrel racing, wildlife identification, suction cup archery, LaserShot and other attractions for all ages.
Any outdoor show wouldn’t be complete without a Kid’s Casting contest and live trout pond, and new this year, Pyramid Air’s Air Gun range where show goers can try a variety of air guns from Pyramid Air Company. There will also be a dozen archery-shooting lanes for visitors to try out the latest bows from every major bow company.
New too will be the NRA Sports exciting 3 Gun Experience, which is an interactive shoot that gives the opportunity to learn the skills of a 3 Gun match using AirSoft technology.
In addition, the show will have game calling contests, a 3D Bowhunter Challenge on a landscaped range, over 200 seminars, demonstrations including trick shots and the how-to’s on protecting your home – among other interesting topics.
Advance tickets are now being sold by going online to www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.