Fo­liage sea­son in county long, var­ied

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - CALENDAR - (Gargano is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Schuylkill County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau)

Ac­cord­ing to Penn­syl­va­nia’s De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Penn­syl­va­nia has a longer and more var­ied fall fo­liage sea­son than any other state in the na­tion. Or any­where in the world for that mat­ter.

Wow! Who knew? Did you know this? I mean, since I have lived in Schuylkill County my en­tire life, I know that our au­tumn is beau­ti­ful. And since I’ve been with the Schuylkill County Vis­i­tors Bu­reau for nine years, (Nine years next month, but who’s count­ing, right?) I’ve learned a great deal more about fall fo­liage as it re­lates to tourism and out­door recre­ation. But I did not know that since most of the world’s forests are ei­ther trop­i­cal or dom­i­nated by conifers, Eastern North Amer­ica is one of only three re­gions in the world con­sist­ing of de­cid­u­ous forests.

Con­se­quently, Penn’s Woods is the meet­ing ground for north­ern moun­tain-top lov­ing tree species, south­ern tree species and many more shrubs and vines that con­tribute to our lengthy and di­verse dis­play of au­tumn color, which, ac­cord­ing to PA Parks & Recre­ation As­so­ci­a­tion, is sup­posed to peak Oct. 21-31 in Schuylkill County. You re­ally do learn some­thing new each day, folks!

Hope­fully, the wet weather we’ve been hav­ing for what seems like eter­nity will let up and al­low us to get out­side and en­joy Oc­to­ber. Hawk Moun­tain Sanc­tu­ary, Dre­hersville, is the per­fect place to get out­doors and en­joy the chang­ing col­ors of au­tumn.

The North Look­out is the lo­ca­tion of the “of­fi­cial” hawk mi­gra­tion count in spring and au­tumn. The vis­i­tor cen­ter is com­prised of ex­hibits, the Wings of Won­der Gallery, gift shop and book­store. Just out­side the door, you’ll find the Na­tive Plant Gar­den.

The South Look­out trail is hand­i­cap ac­ces­si­ble, too. They host a va­ri­ety of events, work­shops and pro­grams that help ed­u­cate the pub­lic and sup­port global con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and are open year-round. The Hawk Moun­tain Con­ser­va­tion Sci­ence In­tern­ship Pro­gram has trained more than 300 young peo­ple from 62 coun­tries on six con­ti­nents. Imag­ine all that right in our back yard! Make time to visit Hawk Moun­tain this month!

We’ve got plenty of hik­ing around the county in Oc­to­ber. You can head to the state game lands at 10:30 a.m. Satur­day for the Le­banon Reser­voir and Swatara Fur­nace hike, and head to Tus­carora State Park at 1 p.m. Sun­day for “Walk in Penn’s Woods,” which is a statewide event that aims to get peo­ple out to en­joy the woods and to learn about how th­ese woods work for us, from recre­ation and wildlife habi­tat to see­ing the out­comes of tim­ber har­vests.

An­other fun op­tion is the County View Hike on Oct. 14. This hike meets on Route 901 be­hind Mount Pleas­ant Hose Com­pany in Buck Run and de­liv­ers ex­actly what its name sug­gests: splen­did views of Schuylkill County. The al­wayspop­u­lar Ped­dler’s Grave Hike meets in the park­ing lot of the Penn­syl­va­nia An­thracite Min­ers Memo­rial in Shenan­doah at 1 p.m. Oct. 21 and takes in the site of one of the first mur­ders in our re­gion.

Sweet Ar­row Lake County Park, Pine Grove, is home to a Wee Ones Walk on Wed­nes­day. While you’re down in the south­ern Schuylkill re­gion, plan on spend­ing some out­door time at Pi­o­neer Ev­er­green Farms’ Fall Fes­ti­val be­tween now and the end of the month. Pi­o­neer Farms, Or­wigs­burg, of­fers au­tumn fam­ily fun at its finest. Not only do they have one of the best scenic moun­tain hayrides to be found any­where, they’ve also got a wa­ter bal­loon launcher, 60-foot tube slide, corn crib, Pi­o­neer Ex­press train rides, horse/pony rides, pet­ting zoo, 200-foot moun­tain slide and lots more. You can com­plete the ex­pe­ri­ence with ap­ple cider and dumplings! It’s eco­nom­i­cal, lots of fun and right here in your own back yard.

Speak­ing of which, you all know that I en­cour­age sup­port­ing the busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions that com­prise our rich, di­verse and boun­ti­ful com­mu­nity, and that’s a big part of why I write this col­umn. You might think I write it so that you all know what’s hap­pen­ing around the county. That’s nice, and it’s very im­por­tant, but it’s not my goal. My goal is much big­ger than that. My goal is that you pa­tron­ize th­ese fine folks, so that they can con­tinue to do the great job they do for us. My goal is to mo­ti­vate you into ac­tion! You know, like Nike, just do it!

Be­fore any­one gets worked up over the lit­tle pun, let’s stay fo­cused here. Just take a look at the fun and fright­ful fes­tiv­i­ties in all cor­ners of our com­mu­nity in Oc­to­ber: Frackville Pump­kin Fes­ti­val, Satur­day; Av­enue’s Fall Fes­ti­val on Sun­day; Walk In Art Cen­ter’s Safe Trick-orTreat on Wed­nes­day; Ash­land’s Ap­ple­Fest in Eu­reka Park on Oct. 13; Ta­maqua Her­itage Fes­ti­val on Oct. 14; Schuylkill Haven’s Is­land Park Pump­kin Patch & Fall Fes­ti­val with a fall pie-bak­ing con­test on Oct. 14; Pine Grove Au­tumn Stroll & Hal­loween Pa­rade on Oct. 20; Schuylkill YMCA’s Scary Amounts of Fun on the 20th; Pi­o­neer Tun­nel Coal Mine & Steam Train Fall Fes­ti­val on Oct. 20; Hal­loween Hus­tle 5K Zom­bie Run and An­thracite Phil­har­monic Spooky Strings Con­cert at The Ma­jes­tic The­ater on Oct. 27; Schuylkill County Coun­cil for the Arts’ Haunted Man­sion Tours on Oct. 30 and 31 and Schuylkill County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s Haunted His­tory Walk­ing tours each week­end in Oc­to­ber.

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