Written by Beth Exley

After your Thanksgiving meal take some time for yourself with a walk in the woods. No headphones or earbuds needed. Just walk, look and listen. The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Region has a vast array of trails within our 5 counties. Here you will find hundreds of miles trails to explore.

Stroll down a secluded trail somewhere in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. Smell the crisp fall air. Feel the cool breeze on your face as you relax and enjoy the country peacefulness. Listen to the rustling of leaves. It could be the wind; it could be a squirrel or chipmunk working feverishly on his winter food stores.

As you continue your journey, keep your eyes open for turkey and other game birds, deer, fox, bear, rabbits or perhaps a groundhog. Further north in our region, you could possibly see an elk or two grazing. A walk along the Clarion River could give you a chance to see the river otter or an eagle.

A few trails that might pique your interest if you are looking for a shorter walk would be the Clarion Loop Trail, the Longfellow Trail, Laurel Mill Cross-Country Skiing & Hiking Trail, Little Drummer Historical Pathway, Clarion-Little Toby Trail, and Minister Creek Trail.

The Clarion Loop Trail is a new three-mile loop spur added to North Country Trail connecting Clarion to the Clarion River. It winds through hemlocks and hardwoods, passing over creeks and rocks until you reach the river.

The Longfellow Trail is a short hike from the Log Cabin Environmental Learning Center in Cook Forest State Park to the Forest Cathedral of towering white pines and hemlocks. The Forest Cathedral is designated as a National Natural Landmark.

The Laurel Mill Cross-Country Skiing and Hiking Trail in Ridgway is a 10.7-mile groomed trail system located in the Allegheny National Forest. Parking, warming hut, and restroom are available. There are well marked trails for all experience levels.

Near Ridgway you can hike Little Drummer Historical Pathway through managed wildlife habitat on a short one-mile loop to Cole Run Pond or go on the longer loop for 3.1 miles around the Cole Run Pond.

Near Tionesta you can hike 6.6 miles on the Minister Creek Trail. This trail features many giant boulders and a scenic overlook. The area is very popular with photographers.

The Clarion-Little Toby Trail is an 18-mile crushed limestone rail-trail along the Little Toby Creek and Clarion River. It expands from Brockway to Ridgway for hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing with ghost towns and a swinging bridge along the way.

The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region has miles and miles of trails. The ones I have discussed are some of the smaller ones that would be great for a leisurely stroll in nature.

For more information on trails of all sizes and challenges, go to VisitPAGO.com/trails-rec.

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