(WHTM) — With warmer weather right around the corner it’s time to start planning outdoor activities like hiking or camping! Here is a list of some popular, public, hiking trails and parks in central Pennsylvania.
Gifford Pinchot State Park
Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County spans over 2,300 acres and has trails for hiking/walking (such as the Mason-Dixon Trail) as well as swimming and boating areas which are open from late May to mid-September. The state park also features two 18-hole disc golf courses.
Some upcoming events at Gifford Pinchot State Park include:
- Vernal pool Evening walk – Friday, April 7 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Learn about the ecology of a vernal pool and then take a walk to see one in person at Gifford Pinchot State Park! Explore and learn about the biology and critters that call forest ponds home.
- Wildflower walk – Wednesday, April 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Join park staff for a walk as you identify wildflowers and learn information about Pennsylvania’s native plants. The walk is for ages 10 and up.
Colonel Denning State Park
Located in north-central Cumberland County, Colonel Denning State Park offers 273 acres of woodland and a man-made 3.5-acre lake. Over 96,000 acres of Tuscarora State Forest surround the park, so there are plenty of hiking trails. The park also sits in the Doubling Gap of Blue Mountain. There is 1,132 feet of elevation at Colonel Denning State Park.
Here are some upcoming events and activities at Colonel Denning State Park:
- Saturday morning birdwatching – every Saturday starting April 29 through June 3 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
- Birdwatching at Colonel Denning State Park is a great opportunity to get outside to see and hear Pennsylvania’s songbirds! The birdwatching walks are for birdwatchers of all experience levels. If you do not have any binoculars, you can lend a pair from the park.
Cowans Gap State Park
Surrounded by Buchanan State Forest in Allens Valley, Cowans Gap State Park is a 1,085-acre park in Fulton County that features a 42-acre lake, a lookout, and multiple hiking paths. Cowans Gap State Park also offers a large campground.
Here is a list of upcoming events at Cowans Gap State Park:
- What’s missing hike – Saturday, April 8 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Join Samuel Cowan to walk through Cowans Gap State Park and see what has changed since Cowan and his wife came to the gap. The high is mostly flat terrain and is classified as “easy hiking.”
- Finding the constellations – Saturday, April 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Come join the park naturalist and learn how to find and identify the various constellations. Dress comfortably and bring a chair or blanket.
- Family fishing program – Saturday, April 15 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Learn some basic fishing skills and how to be a smart angler at this kid-aimed event. Children must have an adult present to participate. The program is free, but you must register before due to limited equipment. Register online or call (717) 485-3948.
- Campfire tales – Saturday, April 15 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Listen to some (mildly) spooky ghost stories from the area. The theme for this event is “Tales of Love,” and there will be marshmallows for roasting.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a 696-acre park that includes Laurel and Fuller Lakes in Cumberland County. The park is at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offers hiking and biking trails that are part of the Appalachian Trial. You can also visit the Appalachian Trial Museum.
Upcoming events at Pine Grove Furnace State Park:
- Furnace walking tour – Saturday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Discover Pine Grove Furnace’s history and learn about how the park was not always a scenic getaway. The walk is one mile long and requires sturdy shoes.
- Slag and water walking tour – Friday, April 21 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Local historian Andre Weltman leads this walking tour to see the “head race” and “slag heap,” man-made mountains of waste products that came from smelting iron. There is a half mile walk on uneven terrain, so wear shoes fit for hiking. Space is limited to 15 people. You can register online.
- Earth Day volunteer clean-up – Saturday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Come clean up Pine Grove Furnace State Park, with various projects for all ages! Bring work gloves and appropriate footwear. After volunteering in the morning, enjoy a grilled lunch courtesy of the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace. Registration required before April 17.
- Earth day nature hike – Saturday, April 22 at 1:30 p.m.
- Enjoy a scenic hike on Earth Day at the beautiful Pine Grove Furnace State Park