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Thursday, December 9, 2010

PA Parks Ready Winter Playground For Visitors

PA State Parks, Forests Offer Visitors a Winter Playground

HARRISBURG, Pa.-- Pennsylvania's forest and park system is the perfect place to enjoy cold-weather outdoor fun, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said today.

"We already have a great cover of snow in the northwestern part of the state, giving outdoor enthusiasts an early start to the season in some of our state parks and forests," DCNR Secretary John Quigley said.

"Find a steep hill at a nearby state park and take your sled for a spin, or take your snowmobile for a ride on a state forest trail. You could also try some late-season hunting or ice fishing. Or, just take a stroll on a trail and enjoy the beauty and peace that the winter landscape offers. Whatever activity you choose, dress warmly and enjoy the fresh air and exercise."

To see a list of scheduled activities around the state, visit

"The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is new to the park system this year and it offers a great launching point for winter activities like cross country skiing at Bald Eagle State Park or for other outdoor adventures in the Pennsylvania Wilds," Quigley said.

The Nature Inn offers modern overnight accommodations and breakfast. Guests can relax in front of a large stone fire place in the great room to warm up after their outdoor activities.

Following the close of Pennsylvania's regular deer hunting season on Dec. 11, snowmobiling will begin Dec. 12 in state forests and parks where conditions permit. This season, snowmobile riders in Pennsylvania's state forests and parks have access to 2,948 miles of marked joint-use state forest roads, closed roads, and trails in 18 of the state's 20 state forest districts, which includes 282 trail miles and 63 road miles available in 32 state parks. Winter ATV trails stretching more than 170 miles in seven state forest districts also open Dec. 12.

Beginning Dec. 14, DCNR will provide condition updates on its toll-free, snowmobile hot line, 1-877-SNOMBLE (1-877-766-6253). Recorded messages, providing reports on snow depths and trail conditions across the state, are updated at about noon each Tuesday and Thursday. DCNR also provides weather and condition reports online for state parks and forests.

Snowmobile enthusiasts will find maps, conditions, and other detailed information at (select "Forestry," then "Recreation"). Updated ice conditions—important to skaters and winter anglers—and snow depths also are available.

All snowmobiles and ATVs in Pennsylvania must be registered with DCNR's snowmobile/ATV Unit. For more information on registration, call toll free (866) 545-2476 or visit DCNR's website.

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 the cross-country skiing enthusiast, more than 330 miles of marked cross-country ski trails are offered on Pennsylvania's more than 2.1 million acres of state forestland.

Also available are nearly 400 miles of groomed and un-groomed cross-country ski trails in 73 state parks.

Downhill skiing is offered at Blue Knob State Park, Bedford County; Denton Hill State Park, Potter County; and Camelback (Big Pocono State Park), Monroe County. Skiing again is not being offered this season at Laurel Mountain, Westmoreland County.

Most state parks with bodies of water are open, weather permitting, for ice-skating, ice fishing and ice boating. Sledding and tobogganing also are available at many parks.

Archers, muzzle-loaders and other late-season hunters are reminded that an additional 422 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.

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.

For information 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, visit or call 717-783-7941 (Bureau of Forestry) or 717-772-0239 (Bureau of State Parks).

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