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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WINTER OUTINGS SERIES BEGINS

Happy New Year! This Sunday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m., step out on the right foot with a short First Day Hike at Hills Creek State Park at 111 Spillway Road in Charleston Township, seven miles northeast of Wellsboro. This slow-paced, family oriented, easy hike or snowshoe of less than 1.5 miles will begin in the park's beach parking lot. It is free and open to the public.

The hike is the first event in the 2017 Step Outdoors Winter Outings series. Area residents of all ages are invited to participate in the January and February events, 17 in Tioga County and one in Potter County. All but one of them are free.

Runs to Begin Jan. 5
Beginning this coming Thursday, Jan. 5, the Tyoga Running Club is hosting Night Runs every Thursday all year long. Meet at the Packer Park parking lot, adjacent to the Wellsboro Senior Center at 3 Queen Street. Be ready to go at 6 p.m. There are different pace groups to accommodate runners of most ability levels. Distances vary. Runs are held in almost all weather conditions. Wearing a headlamp is recommended. For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/tyogarunningclub.

Sand Run Adventure on Jan. 7
Saturday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon, children ages eight and up and adults, all with some experience, will explore the Sand Run Trail System on cross-country skis, snowshoes or hiking boots depending on weather and trail conditions.

A limited number of snowshoes, cross-country skis and winter traction devices will be available for participants to use free of charge. It is recommended that those who own their own equipment bring it with them, including winter traction devices In case there is ice and/or deep snow on the trails.

Participants should be at the trailhead ready to leave by 9 a.m. The trailhead is off the parking lot on Arnot Road in Bloss Township, five miles from Blossburg and 11 miles from Wellsboro.

Tim Morey, Hills Creek State Park Complex natural resource specialist; Tom Oliver, Tioga State Forest recreation forester; and Daryl Warren, a Hills Creek State Park volunteer who has hiked this trail system for several years, will each lead a group. Having three leaders provides participants with an opportunity to choose what they want to do. "Some may want to explore the new three-mile loop, which is perfect for beginners and those who want to go for a short ski, snowshoe or hike,” Morey said.

"Typically, the Sand Run trails offer the best snow-cover in Tioga County so one group may want to ski, another snowshoe and the third, hike," said Morey. If necessary, the pace will be slowed to keep a group together.

"We never know what kind of weather we are going to run into when we do the Winter Outings hike," Oliver said. "The trails were snow-free one year. Two winters ago, we had a single digit temperature with snow and ice on the trail. My group kept moving at a good pace to stay warm."

It is recommended that everyone dress in layers of clothing, wear appropriate footwear and traction aid devices, bring water, a snack or light lunch and a camera. "We can be on the trails from one to three hours depending on what option a group chooses," said Oliver. "We've seen deer, turkeys and even bears on a hike," he added.

Build a Snowman, Do Snow Art Jan. 8
Sunday, Jan. 8, from 1-3 p.m. build a snowman or use the snow as a blank canvas to create snow art at the Stephenhouse Pavilion at the Ives Run Recreation Area on Hammond Lake. The park entrance is 14 miles north of Wellsboro on Route 287.

There will be a variety of activities for families to enjoy, snow or no snow. Everything is free, including materials and hot beverages.

Attendees can use natural items to create a decoration and spray it with water and food coloring to accent the design. In the snow or on the ground, participants can play tic-tac-toe and try to form an Eskimo circle.

There will be contests. Who can hula hoop the longest wearing winter gear in the "Hoop It Up" contest? In the Ice Maker contest, participants will be given a bottle of bubbles to find out who can make the biggest bubble, the one that lasts the longest or which bubble freezes first?

During the scavenger hunt, find colored ice cubes in the snow or if there isn't any snow, look for them on the ground and other places.

All participants will be invited to make a craft to take home.

FMI
To learn more about all series events or for updates, trail conditions, directions and more, visit www.stepoutdoors.org or call 570-724-0300 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays except Dec. 29 and 30 and Jan. 2.

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