Cold Weather Activities Abound in State Forestland and Parks

Telephone hotline and Web Site provide current winter conditions

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and winter weather enthusiasts only need to look to Pennsylvania’s state forests and parks to satisfy their cravings for cold-weather fun.

Sunday, Dec. 11, is the official opening of the snowmobiling season in state forests and parks and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will activate its toll-free, snowmobile hotline Dec. 13.

State websites featuring winter activities will update weather conditions throughout the season and will include information for downhill skiing, snowmobiling, late-season hunting, ice fishing, ice skating and sledding.

“Pennsylvania is a national leader in winter tourism and recreation, and our state parks and forestlands have it all — from snowmobile and ATV riding to skiing, sledding and ice fishing,” said DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. “We’ve revamped our websites to attract new visitors, direct them to fun-filled destinations and better inform them of what to expect when they get there.”

Weather permitting, snowmobile enthusiasts could have access to more than 2,000 miles of state forest roads and 1,000 miles of trails this winter. ATV trails stretching more than 130 miles in seven state forest districts will also open Sunday.

“To the delight of cold-weather outdoors enthusiasts, snow and cold open a whole new world of recreation in our scenic parks and forests,” DiBerardinis said, “including winter festivals with games, dog-sled races, sleigh rides and fun competitions for the entire family.”

Snow conditions are reported and updated regularly on DCNR’s toll-free snowmobile hotline: 1-877-SNOMBLE (1-877-766-6253). Recorded messages, providing reports on snow depths and trail conditions across the state, are updated at about noon each Tuesday and Thursday and will be offered on a non-toll-free number: (717) 787-5651.

Additionally, snowmobile enthusiasts will find maps, weather conditions and other detailed information — including extensive listings of joint-use forest roads open to snowmobiles and forest roads likely to be plowed — at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/ (select “State Forests”), as well as ice conditions, snow depths and other winter-activity details from Pennsylvania’s 117 state parks.

This season, snowmobile riders in Pennsylvania’s state forests have access to nearly 3,100 miles — an increase of almost 400 miles from 2004-05 — of marked, joint-use state forest roads, closed roads, and trails in 17 of the state’s 20 state forest districts. An additional 340 miles are available in 53 state parks.

All snowmobiles and ATVs in Pennsylvania must be registered with DCNR’s snowmobile/ATV Unit. Operators on state land are required to carry liability insurance. For more information on registration, call (717) 783-9227.

For cross-country skiing enthusiasts, 330 miles of marked cross-country ski trails are offered on Pennsylvania’s more than 2.1 million acres of state forestland. Also available are nearly 400 miles of groomed and ungroomed cross-country ski trails in 73 of the Pennsylvania’s 117 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 was temporarily discontinued this season at Laurel Mountain, Westmoreland County, where improvements are being planned.

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.

Several parks still have winter cabin rentals available. Cabin reservations can be made by calling the toll-free information and reservation phone number, 1-888-PA-PARKS (1-888-727-2757). Operators staff the number Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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