Looking for a way to get off the couch and get outside this winter? Try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the PA Great Outdoors region. The contrast of fresh snow against the deep green of pine trees, the peaceful silence of winter trails, or the morning sunlight on frosty ridge tops all create wonderful landscapes to explore. With over a million acres of woods and hundreds of miles of trails, the region’s forests and state parks make perfect winter playgrounds for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, photography, and more.
The PA Great Outdoors region has many well-marked scenic and exhilarating cross-country skiing trails that weave through beautiful stretches of forests and along streams. The Brush Hollow Trail has three loops covering over 7.5 miles with the trailhead north of Ridgway on Route 948. The Clarion Little Toby Creek Trail is one of the most scenic rail-trails in Pennsylvania stretching 19 miles from Brockway to Ridgway offering unparalleled natural beauty winding along the nationally designated Wild & Scenic Clarion River and Little Toby Creek. The 9-mile Laurel Mountain Trail is located in the Allegheny National Forest near Ridgway with many loops for varying skill levels. The 27-mile trail system in Cook Forest State Park runs through magnificent stands of old growth forest. Nearby Clear Creek State Park has almost 4 miles of trail loops following small mountain streams. The 51 mile Redbank Valley Trail was recognized by DCNR as PA’s first Trail of the Year in 2014 for its scenic beauty, connections to other trails, and dedicated volunteers. The trail travels from the confluence of Redbank Creek with the Allegheny River near East Brady through New Bethlehem to Brookville. The West Creek Trail runs 18 miles from St. Marys to Emporium and is a great way to experience the north woods.
Snowshoeing is easy to learn and inexpensive when compared to other winter sports. Country Squirrel Outfitters in Ridgway and Cooksburg Dry Goods in Cook Forest offer equipment rentals, information, and advice. Any of the state parks in the region are good places to go including Bendigo, Bucktail, Clear Creek, Cornplanter, Cook Forest, Elk, Sinnemahoning, & Sizerville.
Put a little zip in your winter routine on a snowmobile. Marienville is “The Snowmobile Capital of Pennsylvania”. The Marienville Trail connects with other trails and offers hundreds of miles of winter fun. The Timberline Trail near Ridgway gives riders 38 miles of trail to explore the ANF. Sizerville State Park has 66 miles of groomed trails and Sinnemahoning State Park’s trail joins the trails in the Elk State Forest making a 25 mile loop.
For more information about winter events and activities call the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau at (814) 849-5197 or visit online at VisitPAGO.com