The arrival of cold weather is no reason to hibernate! Outdoor fun and activities abound throughout Western Pennsylvania, in state parks and forests, and through commercial facilities. Sports enthusiasts can find plenty of excitement through the cold winter months by participating in the following recreational opportunities:
Hit the trails to get some exercise while enjoying the winter in Western Pennsylvania on cross-country skis. Cross-country skiing burns more calories per hour than many other sports. State forests and parks in Western Pennsylvania offer groomed cross-country ski trails.
Explore the tranquil winter woods on snowshoes and discover which animals are active during the chilly season. Weather permitting, snowshoes are available for use each Saturday at Jennings Environmental Education Center in Butler County.
Many anglers say there is nothing like walking on a frozen lake, carving a hole, and pulling up a fish. Many Pennsylvania state parks have lakes for ice fishing. Just be sure to stay safe. Use an auger to make sure there is at least four inches of solid ice before fishing; never fish alone; and always wear a life jacket.
Western Pennsylvania's state forests offer thousands of miles and hundreds of acres of designated snowmobile areas for exploration. Many parks also offer trails and trailheads to state forest lands from mid-December to April 1, weather permitting. Find a designated snowmobile area near you, or check the current Snowmobile Trails Conditions report at the Pennsylvania DCNR
Web site, or by calling the toll-free Snowmobile Hotline at (877) 766-6253.
When the temperature hits rock bottom, dress warmly and lace up your ice skates for a day of ice skating outdoors. Many state parks in Western Pennsylvania offer ice skating when conditions permit, as does Schenley Park in Pittsburgh and the downtown Rink at PPG Place. If you plan to go where the ice is not monitored for safety, please make sure that the ice is at least four inches thick, carry safety equipment, and bring a buddy or two.
Skiing is a very popular way to enjoy winter in Western Pennsylvania. Within 100 miles of Pittsburgh, there are 8 ski resorts, all of which are usually open by January 1 with an excellent base of snow ready for your skis or snowboard. From Seven Springs, Blue Knob and Hidden Valley in Western PA, to Holiday Valley in NY, and Snowshoe in WV, there is plenty of challenging skiing to be had close to home.
For the diehard outdoor enthusiast, there is nothing quite like iceboating. Numerous state parks in Western Pennsylvania offer ice boating. A state park launching permit is required.
Sledding is a popular activity every time the snow flies in Western PA. Many area state parks designate a special area during the winter for sledding, and many Pittsburgh city parks offer sledding as well.
For something more tame and decidely romantic, imagine a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the quiet winter woods. A number of Western Pennsylvania farms and commercial enterprises offer sleigh rides, snow permitting of course!