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Pa. State Parks, Forests Offer Visitors a Winter Playground

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's state forest and park systems again are rolling out the welcome mat for winter visitors intent on enjoying cold-weather outdoor fun.

"As the temperatures turn and seasonable and snow and ice begin to accumulate, our state forests and parks transform into a new world of outdoor excitement and adventure," Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said.

"We are hoping families seek out a sledding hill at a nearby state park or stroll on a forest trail and enjoy the beauty and peace winter landscapes offer," Allan said. "For others, snowmobile and ATV trails have opened, and hunters and anglers will be heading to our state forests and parks for late-season hunting and ice fishing."

Below is a list of activities and events that visitors can explore this winter:

Winter Events:  State parks and forests host winter festivals with games, dog-sled races, sleigh rides and fun competitions for families. To view all scheduled activities around the state, visit www.getoutdoorspa.state.pa.us.

Overnight Stays: The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle offers a great launching point for winter activities like cross-country skiing or for other outdoor adventures in the Pennsylvania Wilds. It offers modern overnight accommodations and breakfast, as well as a large stone fireplace in the great room where guests can warm up after outdoor activities.

Several state parks have winter cabin rentals available. Reservations can be made by calling toll-free, 1-888-PA-PARKS (1-888-727-2757), Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Snowmobiling: Snowmobiling is available where conditions permit and is offered through April 1, 2013. Snowmobile riders in Pennsylvania's state forests and parks have access to almost 3,000 miles of marked joint-use state forest roads, closed roads and trails in 18 of the state's 20 state forest districts and in 32 state parks. More than 170 miles of winter ATV trails in seven state forest districts are also open. 

DCNR is providing condition updates toll-free through 1-877-SNOMBLE (1-877-766-6253). Recorded messages, providing reports on snow depths and trail conditions across the state, are updated around noon each Tuesday and Thursday.

Snowmobile enthusiasts will find maps, conditions, and other detailed information at www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select "State Forests," then "Recreation"). Snowmobile maps are updated to show storm damage and other conditions that may affect the trails.

All snowmobiles and ATVs in Pennsylvania must be registered with DCNR's snowmobile/ATV Unit. For more information on registration, call toll-free 866-545-2476, or visit DCNR's website.

Skiing: For the cross-country skiing enthusiast, more than 330 miles of marked cross-country ski trails are offered on Pennsylvania's state forestland. Also available are nearly 400 miles of groomed and un-groomed cross-country ski trails in 73 state parks. Downhill skiing is offered at Blue Knob State Park, Bedford County; Denton Hill State Park, Potter County; and Camelback (Big Pocono State Park), Monroe County. Skiing again is not being offered this season at Laurel Mountain, Westmoreland County.

Other Activities: Most state parks with bodies of water are open, weather permitting, for ice-skating, ice fishing and ice boating.

Sledding and tobogganing also are available at many parks.

Updated state park ice conditions and snow depths are available at www.dcnr.state.pa.us. Select "Find a Park," "Things to Do," and then "Enjoy the Winter." Visitors also may call the nearest state park or state forest district office.

Hunting: Archers, muzzle-loaders and other late-season hunters are reminded that more than 400 miles of normally gated state forest roads were opened for the late fall and early winter seasons to provide easy access to often remote areas. As much as 3,040 miles had been open to hunters, but openings and closings are at the discretion of local forestry officials and are weather-dependent. Hunters are urged to check with forest district offices about specific roads.

Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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