2015-09-26 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

If there’s one outdoor recreation success story in Pennsylvania, it is the concerted effort to expand and improve hiking trails.

More Pennsylvanians than ever have access to trails due to the work of many dedicated and skilled planners, builders, volunteers, advocates and financial partners.

In just one year (2014), 26 trail projects were completed in 28 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. That’s on top of several state projects. Nearly $4 million in state grant funds were expended, which leveraged approximately $8 million through local and private expenditures. Thousands of volunteer hours were donated.

A state study found that 29 percent of Pennsylvanians live within one mile of an open trail. The number will hit about 40 percent once the new trails being developed or planned are opened to public use.

Trails are a great place to spend time during autumn. Whether your hike is short or long, it’s important to be prepared with the proper footwear and a supply of water.


Hikers who quietly work their way along Pennsylvania trails have a good chance of encountering wildlife, including whitetailed deer. Karen Wolf photo Hikers who quietly work their way along Pennsylvania trails have a good chance of encountering wildlife, including whitetailed deer. Karen Wolf photo Some of Pennsylvania’s best hiking trails can be found in the 13-county region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds.

One of the most popular is the Susquehannock Trail System, which will observe the 50th anniversary of its founding next year. Most of the 85-mile trail is on state forest land in Potter County. A short stretch is over the border in Clinton County.

Northern gateway is at the Pa. Bureau of Forestry office on Denton Hill, while the southern gateway is in Ole Bull State Park, off Rt. 144.

Susquehannock and many other trails are detailed on a state-operated web service, explorepatrails.com. It’s an all-inclusive resource for trail users. The site includes a calendar of special events. It even tracks trail use by hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, photographers and campers.

Options include everything from a small trek on flat land, to challenging hikes on mountain terrain, to trails that can enjoyed by the handicapped.

There are therapeutic benefits to being outdoors, as well as the obvious exercise value.

Speaking of trails, there is another one that’s worthy of mention. It is the Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail, which is now promoted with a “story map.”

It’s a tool that allows the traveling public to access information about the trail from their smart phones and other mobile devices. The story map includes pictures of each artisan site, hours of operation, and a short description. Once downloaded, story maps can be used in places without cell phone coverage.

(Dave Wolf may be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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