New and experienced hikers can pick their pace and path through Pennsylvania’s bountiful outdoors in one of nearly 100 organized hikes across the state during Hiking Week 2015, which steps off May 30.
Special events planned by DCNR and the Keystone Trails Association will take place in parks, forests, cities and towns across the state.
“Thanks to the cooperative efforts of the co-sponsoring Keystone Trails Association and our bureaus of state parks and forestry, a wealth of healthy hiking activities is being offered to all ages and abilities,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
“For 13 years now, this event has become increasingly popular as we reach out to the uninitiated and offer a wide variety of highly organized hikes,” said Dunn. “The ‘welcome mat’ is out to novices and trail-hardened veterans alike, inviting them to hike in our state parks, forests and municipal greenways in this annual salute to healthy exercise and the serenity of those very special outdoors places.”
Dunn noted that outdoor recreation such as hiking invigorate citizens and communities, creating jobs that pay, encouraging healthy lifestyles and promoting environmental stewardship.
Recent economic impact studies of 11 of the state’s longer rail trails show they attract more than 3 million visitors a year, and generate more than $91 million in user-spending annually.
The nine-day Hiking Week concludes June 7, and encompasses National Trails Day on June 6.
“Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation with 'woods' right in our name. Getting out in Penn's Woods during Hiking Week will reward hikers of all ages and ability levels,” said KTA President Wanda Shirk. “We have hundreds of miles of blazed and well-maintained trails, providing everything from the proverbial 'walk in the park' to strenuous hill climbs that can challenge the most fit of athletes.
“There's something for everyone, in an oxygen-charged environment with green trees, bird calls, spring flowers, wildlife, and rejuvenation for all. Your time can't be better spent anywhere else. Hiking is a great recharge for both mind and body," Shirk said.
All of the scheduled hikes have leaders and include a variety of lengths and terrain -- from easy strolls along urban greenways to strenuous treks in some of Pennsylvania’s rugged mountain areas. Special hikes include night hikes; wildflower walks; hikes for people with disabilities; and pet and geology walks.
Nearly 100 hikes and walks have been planned, with state forests and parks across the state being asked to schedule and oversee activities.
Organized in 1956, KTA is a 1,306-member umbrella organization made up of 44 hiking and outdoors organizations in and around Pennsylvania.For more information, including hikes already planned, dates and locations, visit the PA Hiking Week webpage or for details on hiking clubs across the state, visit the Keystone Trails Association website.