Monday, June 20, 2011

Nature Hotspots near Penn State & State College, PA

Featured above: a composite shot of the Arboretum at Penn State. [Courtesy Andy Colwell] Screenshot link

Here I will list some of the outdoor spots that caught my attention over the last few years. I have really enjoyed visiting these places and spending time there, either walking, running or just seeing nature at its best. The places listed are all given with driving times from downtown State College (time in minutes). Directions are provided or available at the associated hyperlink. [Note: Clicking on the links will take you to other third party websites.]
A very good book with a vast collection of hikes in Centre county is The Short Hiker, by Jean Aron. [link to Amazon]. If you are a local you may also find the book at Websters Cafe (or ask me if you know me!)
WINTER SPECIAL (Frozen Lakes!) - walk at your own risk only after considering all safety aspects.
COLYER LAKE (10 mins)

This lake is located on South Atherton/ East 322 as you leave State College towards Lewistown. Once you cross Tait Farm and then drive for a mile or so, look out for the Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership (this will come on your left). Immediately after the Harley dealership, on your right you should see a green sign saying COLYER LAKE ACCESS (PA Fish and Boat Commission). Turn right into that winding road and follow the signs and drive for about 5 mins (slow drive) and you will reach the lake parking lot.
Boating at Colyer Lake is limited to boats powered by electric motors and un-powered boats. Two surfaced launch ramps are available along with associated parking facilities. [Colyer Lake Official Site]
There are NO FACILITIES at this location so be prepared by taking water etc to drink and also doing the necessary at home or a gas station ahead of time.
As of Dec 8 the lake is frozen but easily cracks and you can see several visible cracks. Also me and my friend both jumped on the ice to make more cracks. Hehe, have fun!

(5-10 mins) Awesome Drives in Fall
The other day I was driving in Lemont (see embedded image below that opens in google maps) and got "lost" and discovered a beautiful winding road lined with trees on both sides, some of which were already changing colors!! So if you go there by Sep 30-Oct 10 I am guessing you will be in for a visual treat, not to mention the exhilaration of driving on near empty roads (caution advised- speed limit posted is 25 mph) with brand new paved surfaces! (Click Here to View Larger Map )

Click Here to View Larger Map

(2-5 mins) Penn State Arboretum
Walking, Jogging, Pet walking, biking. Special: Trees

(5 mins) Milbrook Marsh
Walking, birdwatching, pet walking, Special: Flowing water

(5 mins) Walnut Springs Park
Walking, Trail running, trail Biking, Special: bubbling brook.

(5-10 mins) Parks in SC Borough
Walking, assorted options for kids (slides etc.) Special: None (imo).

(10-15 mins) Fisherman's Paradise . Click here for directions. near Bellefonte, PA off Rt 220) [This week's featured item]
Walking, flyfishing (catch and release), Running, Photography, Fishery. Special: Beautiful stream, catchment ponds, fish!
Picture here.

(15 mins) Colyer Lake

(30 mins) Shavers Creek/Stone Valley Recreational Area
[Stone valley directions]
Boating (canoes and kayaks on still water), walking, trail running, easy trails, cabins for overnight stay, Shavers creek has educational programs about nature, wild animals etc.
Special: Beautiful Lake Perez! Cabins!

(30 mins) Whipple Dam Area
[Directions to Whipple dam: from State College, proceed west of college ave/PA 26]

12 miles from the town of State College, sitting right on PA 26, Whipple dam area offers "beach volleyball" opportunities, barbeque pit and a little swimming area in the dam reservoir. One can also rent small boats and do a little bit of pedal boating or canoeing . There are also different hiking and running trails near the dam area. Overall it is a great place near town to get away from the town and hang out in the woods and see some open water. [Official DCNR Information]

(40 mins) Greenwood Furnace

It is a nice place with a 6 acre lake and lots of hiking trails. please see the official DCNR link for more info.

If you have any suggestions, email me at naridon at yahoo dot com.

Another website (Statecollegecentral) that offers information on outdoor activities in Central PA.

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