Hiking among giants and other trail outings

Posted on: April 20, 2017 | Bob Frye | Comments

Trees potentially older than one of the founders of this nation? Hikers will have a chance to see them on one special outing.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures

So you want to hike among giants? Here’s your chance.

Environmental educators from Forbes State Forest and Laurel Hill State Park will lead a “hike for the trees” walk connecting the two chunks of public land from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 29 in honor of Arbor Day.

Arbor Day, of course, is a once-a-year-celebration of trees usually focused on adding a few to the landscape. It’s marked on the last Friday in April.

The hike won’t involve planting anything. But it is a chance to see trees that took root perhaps before George Washington – yeah, that one, the first president of the United States – walked the Earth.

“The Hemlock Natural Area is the starting point for the hike, and winds through an old-growth hemlock forest,” said Rachael Mahony, environmental educator with the Forbes.

How old are those trees?

The Laurel Hill State Park website describes the natural area this way:

“Ancient hemlock trees, 200-300 years old with diameters up to 3 ½ feet, line the creek along this gentle trail. The scenery is spectacular with moss carpeting small rocks and boulders, the creek running wide and clear, and virgin hemlocks providing the final magic touch,” it reads.

From there the guided 7-mile hike – considered moderate in difficulty – will follow trails and roads through the park and forest. There are plenty of other impressive trees to see along the way, including an abundance of red oak, black cherry, yellow poplar, sugar maple and black birch.

The hike will include a tour of the Roaring Run Natural Area, too.

“The Laurel Highlands has so many great recreational resources but oftentimes it’s difficult for visitors to see how they can all tie in together. This hike will hopefully show how state parks and state forests differ but also how they closely coincide,” Mahony said.

“This is a great way for folks to learn about Arbor Day and to see the diverse forests of the Laurel Highlands through our hiking trails.”

Participants should wear sturdy shoes, pack a lunch and bring water. Preregistration is required by contacting Kimberly Peck at 814-352-8649 or kipeck@pa.gov.

And if you can’t make that hike?

There are a number of other interesting guided hikes planned in the coming days and weeks.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania will host a “make and take: create a walking stick and hike” at 4 p.m. on April 23 at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. Participants will make a walking stick from birch wood, then take it on a hike and use it to measure the height of trees.

Preregistration is required here.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has hikes planned all around the state, too. They offer the chance to not only stretch your legs outdoors, but learn about tree identification, wildflowers, wildlife and more.

Check out the full calendar by clicking here.

Pittsburgh-based Venture Outdoors has some hikes on tap – literally, in one case – too. They focus on wildflowers, beer and wine tasting, cemeteries and more.

See the full calendar, with the appropriate details, here.

And finally, if you want to do a hike on your own, Venture Outdoors has some advice on what to take along. It’s prepared a day hike gear checklist.

It breaks down like this:


  • Water (in a hydration bladder or water bottle)
  • Rain gear-jacket and pants
  • Non-cotton layers (hiking pants, shirts, socks and jacket; extra clothes, NO Jeans)
  • Cold weather gear-hat, gloves, layers, jacket (in winter)
  • Hiking boots (already broken in) or walking/running shoes
  • Snacks/energy bars

Nice to have

  • Extra pair of socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat with a brim-to keep the sun, rain or water from your eyes
  • Small daypack/fanny pack
  • Insect repellant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Walking stick or trekking poles

Beyond the essentials

  • Map with waterproof case
  • Field guides or guide book(s) and pen/pencil/sharpie and journal
  • GPS
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • First aid and emergency kit
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Money

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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