By Andy Snyder, York Dispatch
Tuesday, June 25, 2010
Last summer was a great one. There was lots of fishing, a trip to Alaska and some early-season hunting, but one weekend stands above them all. It's not always easy to pick a singular highlight, but last year's Prowl the Sproul event easily gets the prize.
There was good food, great people, and most importantly, some fantastic hiking in one of the prettiest, most rustic sections of the state.
I went because Curt Ashenfelter, the executive director of Keystone Trails Association, extended an invitation I could not refuse. "You will have a blast," the seasoned hiker told me.
His hyperbolic enticement was not misleading. My wife and I spent the weekend with some of the state's most knowledgeable hikers as our hosts and guides. We camped during the evening, ate like kings for dinner and hiked some little-known trails with the hardworking folks that dedicate their time to create them.
Now you have the chance to experience the world-class hiking opportunities Pennsylvania has to offer during this year's 7th annual Prowl the Sproul event, which will be held on July 16-18.
If you are not familiar with the Sproul State Forest, you ought to be. It is 280,000 acres of rugged hills and valleys located in western Clinton and northern Centre counties.
The forest is home to popular trails like the Donut Hole Trail and the Chuck Keiper Trail. And for the folks looking to get away from civilization, there is the Hammersley Wild Area, the largest area without a road in the state.
If none of those names sound familiar or you're a bit apprehensive to go meandering through Pennsylvania's "Big Woods" by yourself, don't worry. You are what the weekend is all about. Plenty of DCNR guides will be there, graciously volunteering their time, to show you the way. It is the perfect way to learn some new trails -- following the steps of the folks that literally blazed the trail.
This year's feature hike will be led by Mike Davis, a state treasure himself, and will be a 6-mile loop hike to the Round Island Waterfall. Just the chance to enjoy Davis' friendliness and passion for what he does is worth the trip to Clinton. Add in the camaraderie of a weekend of camping and enjoying the area and it is a no-brainer.
The most important thing to understand about the Prowl the Sproul weekend is there is something for everybody, from once-a-year hikers to the goat-like creatures that sprint up mountainsides on a weekly basis.
Just like last year, the Western Clinton Sportsmen's Association will host the event, providing campsites, foods and other important amenities. If you are interesting in learning more, do not hesitate to contact Ashenfelter at (717) 238-7017 or go to kta-hike.org.
This is your chance to enjoy a weekend of outdoor fun you will remember for summers to come.