Pennsylvania hikers don't slow down in colder temperatures - in fact, some hikers enjoy the trails even more in the winter. Trails offer a completely different experience when trees lose their leaves, ice forms along trickling streams, and snow dustings become the normal on mountain peaks. Enjoy a Pennsylvania hiking trail this December with the comfort of warm conversation from a local hiking group! Here are just a few happenings this month:
Before hitting the trails, make sure you're prepared for the season with these Winter hiking tips from Lancaster County Day Hikes including:
Q: How do you decide which first aid items to take with you on a day hike?
A: I look at the weather, length of hike, type of terrain, number of people, time of day/year (is there a chance I’ll get stuck out overnight?). You also want to think about items that cannot be improvised and consider those that can be. For example a cotton t-shirt or bandana can work as gauze or a cravat (triangular bandage), but we can’t improvise medical gloves and CPR masks. The first aid kit is fluid based on these factors.
Q: Which first aid items should you always carry with you?
A: There are a few essentials for any hiking trip including disposable medical gloves, pocket mask, blister care, gauze/bandages for bleeding control and cuts/scraps, an elastic bandage or triangular bandage, splinting materials. You also want to consider a way to clean wounds, and a way to purify water. The splinting materials can be improvised from items you might have with you like a fleece, bandana, camp chair, or hiking poles. I also consider items like matches/fire starter, headlamp/flashlight, and a pocketknife.
Q: Are there items people might consider adding to their kit for the fall/winter (as opposed to summer/spring)?
A: Absolutely! In all seasons I think of my backpack as my first aid kit - not just the gauze and bandages in the First Aid Kit. In cooler weather, first and foremost bring an extra base layer, such as long underwear, and a rain jacket/pants. Rain gear isn’t just for rain but helps to keep you warm from the wind and prevent heat loss which can protect against hypothermia. When caring for a sick or injured person in the backcountry, keeping them warm and dry is a high priority. It’s not a bad idea to have along an extra pair of socks especially if you are prone to blisters or there is risk of getting your feet wet. You still want to consider sun exposure during fall/winter and consider the reflection of the sun off surfaces like snow and exposed rock, which can cause a nasty sunburn, especially to the lips and face. If you are hiking above tree line or in the snow consider sunscreen, sunglasses and hat. In winter months consider bringing along a small camp stove. This will make for a fun way enjoy a hot chocolate or coffee break along the trail, but serve as a valuable tool if you do end up getting stuck out overnight. You can consider an emergency blanket or small emergency sleeping bag. One of the most dangerous things in cold weather is exposure - be prepared to avoid that. And as always, bring some snacks! :)
Interested in a training opportunity to become certified in Wilderness First Aid?
Here are some upcoming training sessions with Tara:
Wilderness First Aid - Dickinson College March 22-23, 2024 (https://www.wildmed.com/course/wilderness-first-aid-630/)
Wilderness First Responder - (no prior med training needed)
Philadelphia Outward Bound School Feb 24–Mar 1, 2024 (https://www.wildmed.com/course/wilderness-first-responder-279/)
Princeton Blairstown Center March 17-23, 2024 (https://www.wildmed.com/course/wilderness-first-responder-273/)
Wilderness EMS Upgrade (for EMTs, Paramedics, RNs, PAs, NPs, MD/DO)
The Lancaster Conservancy February 15-19, 2024
Stay tuned to the www.wildmed.com website for even more offerings!
KTA plans to host a Wilderness First Aid course with Tara in the Spring 2024, so be sure you're signed up for our newsletter to get notified!
I want to thank you for your efforts in furthering our mission of providing, preserving, protecting, and
promoting recreational hiking trails and hiking opportunities in Pennsylvania.
I hope you have been enjoying the colors of fall on one of many Pennsylvania hiking trails, especially
those who attended the fall KTA Keystone HikeFest in Johnstown, PA. We want to thank our staff
who put in many hours planning the weekend and programs.
At our fall weekend the KTA Council met to approve the KTA 2023-2024 budget, elect new board
members Joanne Heimer, Julie Queen, Anthony Vigliano, and Jim Hyland and Officers President
Wayne Gross, Vice President Karen Lutz, Secretary Julie Queen, and Treasurer Anthony Vigliano, and
carry out other business. At the Annual Meeting the KTA membership elected the KTA
Representatives At Large to the Council for Fall Meeting 2023 to Fall Meeting 2025: Joyce Appel,
Katie Barker, Pradip Bhatnagar, Rita Black, Steve Black, Kathy Borrell, Chris Brubaker, Blase
Hartman, Patricia Huston, Ted Ligenza, Cyril Quatrone, and Donna Thompson. We want to extend
our thanks to Bob Merrill, Jack Hauler, and Ben Cramer for their service on the Board.
Of particular great news announced was the generous bequest by KTA member George Probst who
passed away earlier this year. The Board will be planning the best way to invest this gift for the long term to benefit the members, clubs, and Pennsylvania hiking opportunities in order to further our mission. His gift, like others who have donated to the endowment fund, on going donations, and other financial support help ensure hiking experiences throughout Pennsylvania.
Congratulations to all hiking award recipients and especially to Ingrid Cantarella-Fox for receiving the
KTA Citation Award for Lifetime Achievement at our Annual Fall Meeting. And a special thanks to
those who participated in our Trail Cares throughout the year.
It's not too early to start working on your hiking award to receive it at the Fall 2024 Keystone HikeFest.
In addition, throughout the coming year, please consider your fellow hikers and clubs for nomination
for Certificates of Achievement, Volunteer of the Year, Club of the Year, and the KTA Citation Award
for Lifetime Achievement. You can also plan to take on a 100-Mile Trail Challenge during the coming
Congratulations to Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy for being the winner of our roll call of the clubs at
our Annual Meeting for having the largest membership in attendance.
For the trails and those who wander on them!
Wayne E. Gross
President, Board of Directors
Keystone Trails Association
The Statewide voice of Pennsylvania Hikers
Please take this opportunity to make a donation to The Keystone Trails Endowment Fund as a lasting
legacy to the mission of KTA. KTA organizational member clubs and other groups may also make
contributions to the fund. Consider making a donation in honor or memory of a club member who has
made a difference in your club or the hiking community.
The following giving levels were established to recognize individuals and groups who have
contributed to the Keystone Trails Endowment Fund. Contributions may be given over a time period
up to a five year period for Keystone Hiker and higher levels of giving.
Life Memberships - $750
Keystone Hiker - $1,000
Keystone Trails Sustainer - $5,000
Keystone Trails Legacy - $10,000
Keystone Trails Visionary - $25,000
Keystone Trails Benefactor - $50,000
Keystone Trails Guardian - $100,000 +
An application is available at the KTA website: https://www.kta-hike.org/keystone-trails-
Thanks for your support,
Wayne E. Gross
KTA Development Committee Chair
Did you know?!
After 13 Trail Care events in 2023....
October was a very busy Trail Care month as we wrapped up the 2023 season. First up was a return trip to work on the Chuck Keiper Trail September 27-October 1. After repeated efforts, the Boggs Run 5-mile section is now finally cleared of the mess of blowdowns. Unfortunately, this stretch, along with some other sections of the CKT, could use some brushing then rebenching. Sproul State Forest is hoping to utilize some PA Outdoor Corps crews next summer on some of these sections, as well as more KTA Trail Care work. Also this weekend, we completely reopened the neglected Little Beaver Trail. This involved finding the trail and some very faded blazes, painting some new beautiful yellow blazes, chainsawing, then DR mowing and brushcutting to re-establish the treadway. Now, hikers can enjoy the novice-friendly 3-mile Little Beaver Loop. Volunteers also cleared downed trees from the Yost Run and Drake Hollow sections. Tom Bastian, Al Germann, Sarah Mocker, Tony Robbins, Rick Stibgen, Donna Thompson, and Jenn Ulmer contributed 112 work hours from Thursday through Sunday -- thank you! Angela, Sproul's new Recreation Forester, also joined in the fun for two days.
October 7th found us returning to Gifford Pinchot State Park's Beaver Creek Trail (Mason Dixon Trail) for a Code Orange workday. One crew continued work on bog bridges and a short footbridge, while others spread some stone and lopped brush. 12 volunteers from KTA, Friends of Pinchot SP, and Mason Dixon Trail, plus staff, contributed 96 volunteer hours. Thanks to Erick Ammon, Tom Bastian, Joe Hardisky, DanHassell, Gozde Hazar, Wendy Johnson, Betsy Leppo, Cecil Leppo, Alan Noble, Tony Robbins, Jenn Ulmer, and Colin Wareham, and to the Friends group for providing Subway lunches.
The not-so-scary Shades of Death Trail in Hickory Run State Park was our focus October 12-15. Forecasted rain shortened our work days to Friday (the 13th!) only, but we still accomplished a lot. The entire trail was chainsawed, lopped, and re-blazed. Three separate wet areas were addressed with digging and rockwork. All working around the most hikers I've ever seen during a workday. That is one popular trail! 6 volunteers contributed 60 hours; much thanks to Tom Bastian, Martyann Gutierrez, Tony Robbins, Dave Schurr, Donna Thompson, and Jenn Ulmer, as well as Megan from HRSP.
The final Trail Care of 2023 brought us back to northeast PA to work on the Pinchot Trail October 26-29. Volunteer Leader Jeff Mitchell had scouted the entire trail and mapped out work sites. We had gorgeous weather Friday and Saturday, and 11 volunteers worked for 104 hours chainsawing, brushcutting, lopping, and painting. Thanks to Pinchot SF Recreation Forester Megan Finnen for all the help with gates and for working with us Friday. Almost half of the volunteers were new to KTA Trail Care; thanks for trying something new, and we hope to see you back next year! Appreciative hikers and backpackers thanked: Tom Bastian, Luther Case, Tim Caspar, Eamonn Connor, Matt Eckle, Al Germann, Martyann Gutierrez, Ted Lewis, Jeff Mithchell, Tony Robbins, and Jenn Ulmer.
Celebrate with us!
Lots of exciting plans for 2024 are starting to take shape! But first, we really want to take some time to fully appreciate everyone that helped contribute to 2023's success. To that end, we're planning a Trail Care Volunteer Celebration, to be held Sunday afternoon, December 3rd. Tentative location is Rock God Brewing in Daville, PA, with some food, beverages, and awards and rewards! All are welcome -- whether you came to one event or all 14. Also, there will be a virtual option for those who'd like to participate but not travel. Watch your email for your invitation!
After summer, rainbow colored leaves and cooler temps invite hikers to return to the forest to experience Pennsylvania's trails in a whole new way. November naturally reminds us of gratitude and warmth among friends and family. Meet welcoming communities of outdoor enthusiasts by trying a group hike with Keystone Trails Association or a local Pennsylvania hiking or trail club!
Keystone Trails Association events:
ATV Impacts on PA Trails and Forests (in partnership with Sierra Club): Black Forest Trail
November 4, 2023 | Black Forest Trail
Join retired forester Bob Merrill for an easy hike on a portion of the beloved Black Forest Trail. Explore approximately four miles afoot while learning about the growing threat ATVs and UTVs pose to Pennsylvania’s public lands. Pack a lunch and plenty of water plus rain gear (just in case). Meeting location is the upper parking lot at the Tiadaghton District Office (10 Lower Pine Bottom Road, Waterville, PA 17776). After our meetup, we will caravan to the trailhead. You must wear orange!
Learn More & Register
Feeling Grateful for the Appalachian Trail? Join KTA for a Maintenance Day!
November 14-17, 2023 | Little Gap, PA
Kathy Corpora, KTA AT Corridor Monitor, and Garrett Fondoules of ATC are leading work days on the Appalachian Trail between Little Gap and Lehigh:
Tuesday, 11/14: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 11/15: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, 11/16: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, 11/17: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
To register and learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate on which work day(s) you will be coming. Meet up will be at Little Gap PA Game Commission parking lot (40.806934, -75.534843).
National Take A Hike Day with KTA
November 17, 2023 | Fort Hunter Conservancy, Harrisburg, PA
Get outdoors for some fresh air, scenery, and exercise at Fort Hunter Conservancy! Join us for a strenuous, mountain hike ending with a picturesque view of the Susquehanna River. This program is part of the Park Rx series of programs sponsored by Highmark Blue Shield and in partnership with Dauphin County Parks and Rec.
Learn More & Register
Pennsylvania Hiking and Trail Club events:
In 1961, the Keystone Trails Association (KTA) instituted an annual Hiking Awards Program to recognize those hikers whose enjoyment of PA’s trails might serve as an example and inspiration to their peers. We were honored to continue this tradition at Hike Fest in Johnstown October 20-22, 2023.
Congratulations to these Award Recipients
Appalachian Trail Award (Applicant must have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania)
Merit Award (Applicant must have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania plus 200(+) miles on other designated trails.)
Pennsylvania Award (Applicant must have hiked 500 miles in Pennsylvania.)
Younger Hiker Award (12 and under) Applicant must have hiked
25 miles on any trail in Pennsylvania.)
100 Mile Challenge (Complete 100 miles(+) of PA hiking trails between 9/1 and 8/31 and receive at least $1/mile sponsorship per mile hiked)
Citation Award (...for Lifetime Achievement is presented to a person who has, over a period of years (not necessarily their entire lifetime), made significant contributions to the preservation of hiking trails and promoting hiking in Pennsylvania. Service may be in the form of volunteer efforts, publications, fieldwork, or any other pursuit that has furthered the mission of the KTA. This is KTA’s highest honor.)
Hike Fest was made possible by these generous community partners and sponsors:
There are thousands of stories to be told by the many hikers who have set foot on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail Museum (located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park) is a place where you can hear these stories!
"The Appalachian Trail Museum serves the Appalachian Trail community by telling the stories of the founding, construction, preservation, maintenance, protection, and enjoyment of the Trail since its creation. The Museum will collect, preserve, and interpret materials relevant to these subjects in an effort to portray not only the history of the Trail, but also the essence of the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual human experience of the Appalachian environment and the culture of hiking." (quote from Museum's website).
The book list below was provided by Julie Queen, Manager of the AT Museum and KTA Board Member. In 2016, Julie completed a thru-hike of the AT, has served with many nonprofits including the Girl Scouts, has worked with the DCNR and PA Department of Agriculture; served in the Peace Corps, as a Potomac Appalachian Trail Club ridge runner, and as an A.T. community ambassador for Boiling Springs.
Each of these books can be purchased from the Appalachian Trail Museum's online store:
Hikers are becoming increasingly curious about learning backpacking basics so they can enjoy an extended experience on the trail and PA hiking groups are stepping up to help!
If you've ever backpacked, you know that hiking with a backpack and going backpacking are not quite the same. Which is one of the reasons why day hikers can feel intimidated about going out for an overnight trip. Providing welcoming opportunities for hikers to learn backpacking skills in a friendly, safe environment can help people get off to a great start with their new backpacking adventures.
In the spring of 2023, KTA offered a Backpacking 101 course to hash out the differences between day hiking and backpacking. The course also covered selecting clothing, footwear, and gear (packs, sleeping bags, stoves, lights, stuff sacks, poles, tents), food preparation, campsite selection, potential dangers (ticks, waterborne diseases, bears, snakes), Leave No Trace, unique considerations for women, and more.
Leaders of this course were Jim Foster, Marian Orlousky and Ed Riggs. Jim and Ed are experienced backpackers who have backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail, as well as the John Muir Trail, the Quehanna Trail and others. Marian is Director of Science and Stewardship for Appalachian Trail Conservancy and an experienced backpacker. A few weeks after the course, the leaders offered to take the crew on a guided overnight trip to practice their new skills!
In October, we hosted another overnight backpack experience on the Loyalsock Trail (LT). This trip was led by Jenn Ulmer, KTA Manager of Trail Maintenance and Training. As the president of the Alpine Club of Williamsport, which takes care of the LT, Jenn is very familiar with the terrain and campsites and was happy to take people out on the trail! Together the group learned tips for organizing their packs, setting up their campsites, and preparing for all types of weather (it was a chilly weekend!).
Stay tuned! KTA is planning an Intro to Winter Backpacking trip in early 2024! Sign up for the newsletter to get notifications about this event.
With momentum building across the state, the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club is preparing for their first ever annual Treksylvania Backpacking Rally on May 4, 2024! During this event, participants will interact with and learn from experienced backpackers as they use typical gear to demonstrate the skills needed to get out on the trail. They'll find out how to purify water, cook food, pitch tents, hang hammocks and more! Attendees can talk to subject matter experts and get up to date on the latest best practices. This event will be hosted at BMECC's Rentschler Arboretum.
Maybe backpacking feels like too much for you right now but is something you want to work towards. We all begin somewhere - and that's okay! Try these tips for getting starting with hiking. If you're ready to start your backpacking journey, save the date for Treksylvania Backpacking Rally and stay tuned with KTA for more events, like our Intro to Winter Backpacking trip in early 2024!
At the beginning of the Fall season, we asked our Facebook and Instagram followers: Which Pennsylvania hiking trails are best for the fall?
Here’s what they said:
Standing Stone Trail
The Standing Stone Trail (SST) connects the Mid State and Tuscarora Trails and traverses the Blue Mountain and Seven Mountains Regions. The 76-mile trail is orange-blazed and maintained by Standing Stone Trail Club. The new name derives from a tradition among the Native Americans of what is now south-central Pennsylvania to maintain tribal genealogies on a “standing stone” displayed in each village, inspiring early settlers to use the term as a general name for the region.
Learn more: Standing Stone Trail Club
Mid State Trail
The Mid State Trail is known as the longest and wildest footpath in Pennsylvania. Over 500 kilometers in length, the Mid State Trail stretches from the Mason-Dixon Line meeting a path through Maryland’s Green Ridge State Forest, near the Buchanan State Forest and traverses through the center of the state to end at the New York State line just north of Cowanesque Lake meeting Crystal Hills Trail, a branch of NY’s longest footpath, Finger Lakes Trail. The Mid State Trail is broken into four distinct regions. Hiking from south to north you will pass through the Everett Region, State College Region, Woolrich Region and the Tioga Region. The system also features several lengthy side trails. The main route of the Mid State Trail is marked by 5-by-15-centimeter rectangular orange blazes.
Learn more: Mid State Trail Club
North Pocono Trails Association Crosscut & Lumberjack Trails
“With over 10 miles of hiking, biking and running trails, there is something for all levels. Enjoy the woodland trails and mountain streams within the beautiful northern Pocono Mountain region of PA.”
Learn more: North Pocono Trails
1000 Steps (Standing Stone Trail)
“A large historical sign, located at the base of the steps, indicates that this area was known as the "Silica Brick Capital of the World" because of the bricks made from the abundant Tuscarora sandstone found in these narrows. These manufactured bricks were very heat resistant and crucial parts in the major industries of the time including steel, iron, glass, and the railroad industries. Miles of dinkey railroad track was used to bring the silica down from the mountainside quarries and the workers would ride along up on the trains. Soon trucks began to replace some of the trains, so more and more workers had to make the climb instead of riding the trains to the quarries. In 1936 there was a flood the wiped out the bridge across the river to Mount Union and the brick factories, idling the workers. As the bridge was being replaced, the workers were set to a new task of building steps into the mountainside to make the climb up and back easier. Thus the Thousand Steps were formed.”
Learn More: PA Hike's 1000 Steps Article
Black Forest Trail
This spectacular long-distance loop trail leads through and above the west side of Pine Creek Gorge in the northwest corner of Lycoming County. This very rugged trail charges into and out of the chasm several times, with many very steep ascents and descents, before leveling out on top of the plateau around PA 44. The trail features many outstanding vistas in all directions, with views over Morris Run, Big Dam Hollow, Young Woman’s Creek, Baldwin Branch, Callahan Run, Naval Run, Little Slate Run, and Pine Creek. The Black Forest Trail system was constructed by the Bureau of Forestry.
Learn More: Black Forest Trail
Golden Eagle Trail
A rugged and very beautiful loop trail, with a short entrance trail, the Golden Eagle Trail starts in the east side of Pine Creek Gorge and features a strenuous climb to pristine mountaintop streams and several outstanding vistas.
Learn More: Golden Eagle Trail
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) is one of the finest natural trails in Pennsylvania. In winter, the trail supports cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, both of which can be combined with winter backpacking. Some portions of the trail, especially near the southern end, are quite rugged, and provisions have been made to keep the trail as primitive as possible. Hikers are also encouraged to create in-and-out day hikes on the trail, given its diverse character and scenery. In particular, wildflowers are widespread in the spring, and the views off the mountain are enhanced in the winter. The ridge provides several natural vistas overlooking the nearby valleys and a huge expanse of uninterrupted forest.
Learn More: Go Laurel Highlands
The scenic and challenging Loyalsock Trail (LT) runs roughly parallel to its namesake creek. The LT frequently climbs up and down ridges and mountaintops, passing many waterfalls, lakes, ponds, and historic places. The trail is known for its many fine vistas.
Learn More: Alpine Club of Williamsport
Ricketts Glen Falls Trail
“Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the most scenic areas in Pennsylvania. This large park is comprised of 13,193 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia counties. Ricketts Glen harbors the Glens Natural Area -- a National Natural Landmark. Hike the Falls Trail System to explore the glens, which boasts a series of wild, free-flowing waterfalls, each cascading through rock-strewn clefts in this ancient hillside. The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. Old growth timber and diverse wildlife add to the beauty.”
Learn More: DCNR
Hiking along backroads in Delaware and Maryland takes you past beautiful old homes, farms, and rural scenery. In York County, the river bluffs rise about 800 feet above the Susquehanna, providing spectacular views as well as aerobic exercise
Learn More: Mason-Dixon Trail Club
Stay up to date with PA hiking trail information! Join our newsletter.
Keystone Trails Association