If you live on the east coast and you’re an avid hiker you probably dream of trekking the mountains of Colorado, peak bagging in Montana, or star gazing at the top of Crater Lake National Park. I know I do. A bucket list two pages long in my leather bond journal is filled with places out west I still want to explore.
But there is another area I want to explore and seek adventure. My own backyard, Pennsylvania. With over one million acres of public forests and parks I have only scratched the surface.
Take the Allegheny National Forest for example, it was established in 1923 and is Pennsylvania’s only National Forest. It covers 513,175 acres (801.8 sq mi) of land within four counties. To cover that much land and truly explore its worth would take months. The Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania remains one of the least densely populated areas east of the Mississippi River.
Within the Allegheny National Forest meanders a maze of trails to hike and explore. Thirteen hiking trails adding up to 201 miles. Eight cross country skiing trails make up about 53 miles, and 10 interpretive trails for a total of 18 miles.
It is here, in the plateau tops of the NCT in the Allegheny National Forest where I will be spending much of my time in 2017, aside from #LHX2017. During 2016 I concentrated my time in the Laurel Highlands region hiking the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and surrounding connector trails and natural areas like Cucumber Falls in Ohio Pyle State Park, Spruce Flats Bog in Forbes State Forest and Mount Davis at 3,213 feet. From its observation tower you get an awesome view of the Laurel Highlands.
As 2017 approaches, I am spending quiet evenings in our cottage sitting next to the wood stove plotting out my next adventures. Maps of the NCT in the Allegheny National forest are strewn across the table along with my journal, pen, compass and a good hot cup of coffee. My mind wanders and dreams with each moment spent planning and plotting. Visions of elk stomping the forest floor, hemlocks towering above my head, and views of the Allegheny Reservoir fill my mind.
With over eight hundred square miles and more than a hundred miles of trails to explore, adventure awaits in 2017.
Before I head out west seeking adventure I still have a lot of ground to cover right here in my own backyard. So why not come out and join me in an area of Pennsylvania that is majestic and beautiful, filled with history, and thick with forest. I’d love to meet up, connect and inspire you in my backyard. Contact me and let’s plan an adventure for 2017.