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Friday, December 29, 2017

JANUARY AND FEBRUARY WINTER OUTINGS SERIES TO BEGIN WITH ACTIVITIES ON MONDAY, JAN. 1, THURSDAY, JAN. 4, SATURDAY, JAN. 6 AND SUNDAY, JAN. 7, 2018

Photo by John EatonTim Morey is shown with a snowshoe, kayak paddle and ski pole representing the type of equipment that will be provided free for the public to use during the Winter Outings series in Potter and Tioga counties. Those who have their own equipment are encouraged to bring it.

The 2018 Winter Outings series has been expanded to include more events in Potter County, according to organizer Tim Morey, a natural resource specialist with the Hills Creek State Park Complex. "This is our largest Winter Outing series yet with more than 25 activities offered in Tioga and Potter counties during the months of January and February," said Morey.

"The concept of Step Outdoors has expanded from a Tioga County-based program to a regional format," said Pete Herres who is a member of the Step Outdoors Network, a work group of the Tioga County Partnership for Community Health based on Wellsboro. "With the recent merger of the Tioga County Visitors Bureau and the Potter County Visitors Association, the network is including more activities in both counties."

Activities are for youngsters and adults of all ages, from beginners to experienced and include both snow and no snow and ice and no ice opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

This year's Winter Outings will begin with a free 5K and free First Day Guided Hikes or First Day Guided Snowshoe Hikes at three different state parks on New Year's Day, Monday, Jan. 1. Dress for the weather, wear proper footwear with traction devices if necessary or snowshoes if there is enough snow. Bring water and a snack. Limited snowshoes and traction devices will be available to use free during activities as well as cross-country skis, ice skates, tubes and saucers.

Hills Creek First Day 5K & First Day Hike/Showshoe
A First Day Guided Hike or Snowshoe Hike, and a First Day 5K are being offered at Hills Creek State Park at 111 Spillway Road, seven miles northeast of Wellsboro in Tioga County. Meet at the park’s beach parking area to participate in either the hike or 5K.

For the First Day 5K, runners should arrive between 12 and 12:30 p.m. to register and pick up course information and details before the 1 p.m. start. The 5K is a free, no frills event. There are no aid stations and no awards. Runners have to write down their own times. The goal is to challenge themselves and their friends by running around Hills Creek Lake as fast as they can.

The short, family oriented, slow-paced 1.5-mile guided hike will be on Tauscher’s Trail. If there is snow, it will be a guided snowshoe hike. Hikers are encouraged to bring their own snowshoes or traction devices. A limited supply of both will be available to use free. Leader is Daryl Warren.

Hikers will cheer on runners in the 5K at 1 p.m. and then leave on their own adventure.

Come early and stay late if there is snow. Sledding hill is nearby so families are welcome to bring sleds, tubes or toboggans and give the hill a try, or cross-country ski, snowshoe or hike on the park’s trails and campground roads. For information, call the park at 570-724-4246.

Hike/Snowshoe Options at Lyman Run
At 12 p.m. two First Day Guided Hikes or Snowshoe Hikes will be offered at Lyman Run State Park at 454 Lyman Run Road, Galeton in Potter County. The first will begin at 12 p.m. It will be less than a mile from the trailhead near the lower campground along the Lower Lyman Trail to the beach area. This hike is suitable for adults, children and pets. Leader Maxine Harrison will identify different trees along the trail and animal tracks near Lyman Lake. The second hike will begin at 12 p.m. and end by 2 p.m. It is for the more adventurous. Join Wanda Shirk on this three-mile hike on a combination of roads and trails around Lyman Lake. Due to conditions, traction devices may be required and hiking poles are recommended. If there is enough snow, bring sleds and saucers or borrow them to go sledding after the hikes. For more information, call the park at (814) 435-5010 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

First Day Hike/Snowshoe at Sinnemahoning
Starting at 12 p.m. at the Sinnemahoning State Park Office & Wildlife Center at 4843 Park Drive, Austin in Potter County, will be a 2.5-mile First Day Guided Hike or Snowshoe Hike on fairly level trails near the center. See a bald eagle’s nest, learn about the park’s trail system and additional hiking and outdoor recreational opportunities. Waterproof footwear is recommended. For information, call the park at (814) 647-8401.

Run on Thursdays, Jan. 4, 11, 18 & 25
The Tyoga Running Club is hosting free Thursday Night Runs that are open to the public on Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25. Meet at the Packer Park parking lot behind the Wellsboro Senior Center at 3 Queen Street in Wellsboro to go on a one-hour run beginning at 6 p.m. no matter what the weather conditions. Wearing a headlamp is recommended. There are different pace groups with varying distances for runners of all ages and ability levels. For information, email run4trc@gmail.com or visit www.Facebook.com/tyogarunningclub.

Jan. 6 Snowshoe Hike at Mill Cove
At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, a brief introduction to snowshoeing will be held at the main pavilion at the Mill Cove Environmental Area at 2317 Mill Creek Road, Tioga in Tioga County. Immediately following will be a 1.5-mile, 1.5-hour guided snowshoe or regular hike and a 4.5-mile, 3-hour guided snowshoe or regular hike, including a fairly steep climb. A limited number of snowshoes will be available free of charge for people to use if there is enough snow. Those who have snowshoes are encouraged to bring them. At 9:15 a.m. meet Daryl Warren at Packer Park at 3 Queen Street in Wellsboro to carpool to Mill Cove or to drive there take North Main Street in Mansfield, turn onto Decker Street and proceed up Pickle Hill Road for about 5 miles, turn left onto Mill Creek Road and continue west, proceed through the gate and travel one-quarter of a mile to the main pavilion on the right. For more information, contact Marilyn Jones at 570-549-2794 or jones_mk@yahoo.com.

Eagle Watch is Jan. 6
At 1 p.m., a one-hour Eagle Watch led by local expert Matt West will begin at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Connecting Channel Overlook at the Tioga-Hammond Dam. This is one of the best spots in the area to see bald eagles. Those who have binoculars are encouraged to bring them. A limited number of spotting scopes and binoculars will be available. West will talk about the life of the bald eagle, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's reintroduction program, how to identify this raptor and areas on Hammond, Tioga and Cowanesque lakes and other locations in Tioga County where people can go to see them. For information, call the Ives Run Visitor Information Center at 570-835-5281. To get to the overlook, take Route 287 north for 17 miles, turn right onto South Main Street in Tioga Borough, drive to the end of the street, wind past the park entrance gate and drive to the top of the hill until the road ends at the overlook parking lot.

Sunday Funday Snow Biking
Sundays, Oswald Cycle Works is sponsoring the Mountain and Snow Bike Riding Series. On Sundays, Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28, these rides will start at 9 a.m. at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Appalachian Research Branch at 176 Straight Run Road, Wellsboro. It is just off Route 6 in Asaph in Shippen Township, eight miles west of Wellsboro. The rides last two to three hours and the routes are always different to keep the rides interesting. For weekly updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/OswalCycleWorks/ or contact Tom Oswald at 570-662-3097.

Snowman Building & Snow Art
From 1-3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 7, families are invited to build a snowman and use the snow as a blank canvas to create snow art. Everything is free, including materials and hot beverages. If there is no snow, participate in the Hoop It Up and Ice Maker contests, go on a scavenger hunt, make a winter craft to take home or play tic-tac-toe. This event will be 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. For information, call leader Debbie Calkins at 570-662-3968.

Weekly Hiking Series
Daryl Warren, local hiking guru and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources volunteer leads hikes year-round on Mondays and Saturdays. In addition to the Jan. 1 First Day Hike/Snowshoe at Hills Creek State Park and the Jan. 6 guided snowshoe or regular hike at Mill Cove, Warren will lead hikes on Monday, Jan. 8 through Monday, Feb. 26. The hikes range from easy (Pine Creek Rail Trail) to strenuous (narrow, steep mountain trails), short (3 miles) to lengthy (12 miles). Each week, hikers will meet at the parking lot at Packer Park behind the Wellsboro Senior Center at 3 Queen Street in Wellsboro to carpool to the hike location. Warren ranks each hike on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest and 5 the hardest. “My hiking speed averages 1.7 miles per hour,” Warren said. “If necessary, the pace will be set slower. The time listed for each hike is the actual hiking time. It does not include shuttling to and from trailheads.” On Monday, Jan. 8, Warren will lead an 8.6-mile, 5-hour hike on Larry’s Loop. He rates it as a 3 based on its length. At 8 a.m., meet Warren at Packer Park to carpool to Larry’s Loop. On Saturday, Jan. 13, Warren will lead a 3-mile, 2-hour hike on Hamilton Lake loop. He rates this as a 2 because it is on mostly level terrain and has one short bushwhack. At 9 a.m., meet Warren at Packer Park to carpool to Hamilton Lake Loop. On Monday, Jan. 15, Warren will lead a 6-mile, 3.5-hour hike on Bee Tree Ski Trail. He rates this as a 3.5 because of its length. This hike is on mostly level terrain and has one moderate climb. At 9 a.m., meet Warren at Packer Park to carpool to the Bee Tree Ski Trail. To receive detailed information about the hikes and to sign up for weekly updates, email Daryl at rindercella@epix.net or call him at 570-724-7721 or 570-439-3739.

FMI
To learn more about Winter Outings series events or for updates on trail conditions, directions and more, visit www.stepoutdoors.org or call 570-724-0635 or 570-724-0300.