Foliage season in county long, varied
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.