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Pennsylvania Hikers Trek the Trails for Hiking Week

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants you to slip on your hiking boots and trek the trails of Pennsylvania.

The department hopes Hiking Week 2013 will showcase Pennsylvania’s many trails and walkways.

Through June 2, DCNR and the Keystone Trails Association will offer outdoors adventurers more than 70 organized hikes, and they hope to make that number grow to 100 organized hikes by the end of the week.

DCNR spokeswoman Christina Novak said the department has done surveys for its statewide comprehensive outdoor plan, and it found that people wanted outdoor trails close to home.

“We know that they want the ability to get out there on a regular basis," Novak said. "It’s great for families. It’s a great opportunity to get some healthy exercise, but also to be outdoors, listening to the birds, seeing the trees emerge in the spring, watching wildlife, so it really is a very affordable outdoor option.”

The week includes themed hikes like wildflower treks, pet walks, geology tours and even night hikes.

There are also hikes for people with disabilities, including outings for those in wheelchairs or individuals who are not able to see or hear, according to Novak.

“Normally someone who is organizing that type of hike would look for a trail that’s relatively flat and also that is accessible to someone in a wheel chair,” she said.

For those who do not want to use up gas looking for hikes, Novak notes local parks often have trails.

“Actually, a lot of parks, for instance, Point State Park in Pittsburgh has promenades along the waterfront, so it is possible at a local park to, you know, take a walk around the park,” she said.

For those hesitant to go off the beaten path, Novak said the guided hikes are actually very easy.

“Someone is here to show you the way so you don’t need to worry about mapping anything out, but you do want to have comfortable pair of shoes, you want to dress appropriately for the weather, you might want to have some sunscreen and you also want to bring along a water bottle,” Novak said.

Outdoor trekkers can begin their adventures by finding the list of organized hikes on Explore PA Trails’ website.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.