With the official arrival of winter, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn is reminding outdoors enthusiasts Pennsylvania’s state forest and park systems again are rolling out the welcome mat for winter visitors intent on enjoying cold-weather, outdoor fun.
“As the temperatures turn seasonable and snow and ice accumulate in some areas, we extend an invitation to head to woodlands, lakes, and trails and enter a new world of outdoor excitement and adventure,” Dunn said. “We invite visitors to try sledding at a nearby state park or stroll on a forest trail and enjoy the beauty and peace winter landscapes offer. For others, snowmobile and ATV trails have opened, and hunters and anglers will be heading to our state forests and parks for late-season hunting and ice fishing.”
Following the December 14 close of Pennsylvania’s regular deer hunting season, snowmobiling began December 15 and will close April 1, 2020, in state forests and parks where conditions permit.
This season, snowmobile riders in Pennsylvania’s state forests and parks have access to 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 in 32 state parks.
Winter ATV trails stretching more than 170 miles in seven state forest districts also opened December 14.
DCNR provides condition updates on its toll-free, snowmobile hotline, 1-877-SNOMBLE (1-877-766-6253); or 717-787-5651. Recorded messages providing reports on snow depths and trail conditions across the state are updated mid-day each Tuesday and Thursday.
DCNR also provides weather and condition reports online for state parks and forests.
When winter weather cooperates, state parks and forests also are the scene of coordinated winter festivals with games, dog-sled races, sleigh rides, and fun competitions for families.
For details on ice and snow conditions, or winter festivals at state parks and forests, visitors also may call the nearest state park or state forest district office.
For more information, call 717-783-7941 (Bureau of Forestry) or 717-772-0239 (Bureau of State Parks). Both bureaus haveonline information posted and activitiesare being scheduled throughout the state.
For the cross-country skiing enthusiast, more than 330 miles of marked cross-country ski trails are offered on Pennsylvania’s more than 2.3 million acres of state forestland. Also available are nearly 400 miles of groomed and ungroomed cross-country ski trails in 73 state parks.
Downhill skiing is offered atBlue Knob State Park, Bedford County;Laurel Mountain State Park, Westmoreland County; and Camelback (Big Pocono State Park), Monroe County. Skiing is not being offered this season atDenton Hill State Park, Potter County.
Other Winter Activities
Most state parks with bodies of water are open, weather permitting, for ice-skating, ice fishing, and ice boating. Sledding, tobogganing, and snowshoeing also are available at many parks.
Archers, muzzle-loaders, and other late-season hunters are reminded that more than 400 miles of normally gated state forest roads were opened for the late fall and early winter seasons to provide easy access to often remote areas.
As much as 3,040 miles had been open to hunters, but openings and closings are at the discretion of local forestry officials and are weather-dependent. Hunters are urged to check with forest district offices about specific roads.
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is one of Pennsylvania’s great launching points for winter activities like cross-country skiing at Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County, or for those seeking outdoor adventures in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
The Nature Inn offers modern overnight accommodations and breakfast. Guests can relax in front of a large stone fireplace in the great room to warm up after outdoor activities.
Several state parks have winter cabin rentals available. Cabin reservations can be made by calling the toll-free information and reservation line, 1-888-PA-PARKS (1-888-727-2757). It operates Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.