As the semester flies by and students are busy with schoolwork, football and other non-academic pursuits, it’s easy to forget about some of the other great things that Central Pennsylvania has to offer, such as the outdoors.
This Saturday, Oct. 13, Appalachian Outdoors is holding its annual Fall Outdoor Expo in conjunction with the State College Fall Festival.
Dipak Sahoo, Appalachian Outdoors advertising and marketing manager, said the event will take place on Allen Street — which will be closed to traffic.
Sahoo said it will include community outdoors groups and vendors from national outdoors clothing and equipment companies. He said the event would give students a chance to learn what there is to do in the community.
“The idea of the Expo is to show people what we have in the area,” Sahoo said. “We are combining the outdoors, art and acoustic music for the event. It one of our more popular events.”
Rachel Hoh (senior-community, environment and development) said she realized how much she enjoys spending time in the outdoors during her first year at Penn State, when she participated in the ORION Wilderness Orientation Program. After spending six days in the outdoors with other new students, she said she became hooked.
As a result, Hoh said she joined the Penn State Outing Club, and is now president.
“Sometimes, here on campus, we get into a rut and a bubble,” Hoh said. “But inside, we crave adventure and activity that allows us to clear our minds. If you’re not getting out on all these beautiful trails out here, you’re not doing the State College area justice.”
The Penn State Outing Club has weekly meetings where members plan adventure outings that people in the club would be interested in doing, Hoh said.
Recent adventures have included backpacking, kayaking, indoor rock climbing and boulder climbing, but Hoh said that they are open to try any type of adventure outing.
She said students can join the club at anytime, and they welcome people with all types of outdoors experience. This provides an option for people who may be a little nervous about going into the woods for the first time, but are looking for a new experience, she said.
“We like to call ourselves the craziest, sexiest and coolest people on campus,” Hoh said, attributing that to the all of the fun and physically fit things that they do.
Hoh said one of her favorite places to hike and climb is Rothrock State Forest because it includes trails with beautiful vistas, boulder climbs and easy day hikes.
Sahoo said he also enjoys the Rothrock area, and said one of his favorite hikes is to go up to the Mid State Trail near Shingletown Gap. He said this trail leads to an overlook that gives a great view of Happy Valley.
Avid distance hiker Dave Gantz keeps his own website that includes details about his completion of many of the major long distance hikes, including the Appalachian Trail and the Pennsylvania Mid-State Trail.
Gantz said that there are many resources in the area for people interested in getting outdoors. He said one of those is Purple Lizard Maps, a local map company that makes a Rothrock State Forest map along with maps of other natural places in the area.
According to its website, www.purplelizard.com, the maps are available at many local area stores.
Gantz, who works at Appalachian Outdoors in State College, said he finds students coming into the store wanting to get into the woods, but unsure of how to get there without transportation.
He said he points them in the direction of Rothrock and Mount Nittany. Both places are easy to bike to from campus, and have CATA bus routes that run nearby, he said.
“Mount Nittany is the classic hike in the area,” Gantz said.
The Mount Nittany Conservancy keeps nine miles of trails on the mountain well maintained, according to its website.
John Hook, Mount Nittany Conservancy President, said trail maps are provided online and at the trailhead at the base of the mountain in Lemont.
The free maps along with signs along the trail showing the correct way to go make Mount Nittany practical for even a first time hiker, says Hook.
Hook said he estimates that over 100,000 people hike the trail annually, and most stop to get a view of east campus and the Stadium from the vista at Lynch Overlook.
Websites like www.pahikes.com give information about other places to explore in the area. The website offers maps and includes an interactive feature that allows hikers to calculate how many calories they might burn on certain trails.
Hoh said she feels it is important for people to get out into nature, and this an ideal area to do so.
“It’s not natural for people to be separated from the woods,” Hoh said. “For the woods are just an inherently happy, fun place to be.”