I Love My State Parks Week In PA – May 8-15

I Love My State Parks Week In PA – May 8-15

With the goal of showcasing all that PA’s 121 state parks and 20 forest districts have to offer, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation is participating in the inaugural I Love My State Parks Week, a campaign hosted by the National Association of State Parks Foundations (NASPF) May 8-15th.

The United States boasts more than 8,500 state parks and forests covering 18.6 million acres with 52,600 miles of trails. Along with these beloved natural areas comes an army of Friends groups and fellow volunteers dedicated to caring for them. NASPF was formed by the leadership of park foundations, including PPFF which serves as an umbrella organization to nearly 50 volunteer chapters throughout Pennsylvania. These foundations joined forces seeking to support one another, along with the vast networks of volunteers, in an effort to provide a national voice and advocate for all state parks. NASPF works to connect, build, elevate, and empower the statewide non-profit partners of America’s state parks and one effort toward this goal is I Love My State Parks Week.

Kicking off on Mother’s Day, I Love My State Parks Week aims to increase the visibility of state parks and raise awareness about their many benefits, engage new audiences and promote access, and connect with the public through personal testimonials, storytelling, and photos showing why these spaces are so important. With daily themes and a ready-to-go social media toolkit, NASPF encourages all members, state parks foundations, friends’ groups, state park agencies, and partners to share and amplify the I Love My State Parks Week content on their own social platforms to increase engagement.

You can participate by showing your love for PA’s state parks by sharing your outdoor adventures, photos, and special memories on social media, tag PPFF, and use the hashtags #ILoveMyStateParks, #ILoveMyStateParksWeek, #ILovePAStateParks, and #NASPF.

Concurrently, I Love My State Parks Week is one of several special outdoor holidays being celebrated throughout the year in PPFF’s new #GetMovingPA effort that calls for park and forest visitors and volunteers to share video footage of their adventures and volunteerism in PA’s parks and forests on social media. Learn more at https://paparksandforests.org/news/getmovingpa/.

Stay connected and learn about I Love My State Parks Week events with the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation and our Friends Groups throughout the state by signing up to receive PPFF’s weekly Take Five e-blasts and by following us on social media.


The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Ensuring a place and an experience for everyone in the outdoors!
The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation supports 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest by coordinating volunteers, activities, and donations through its 48 chapters. The mission of the foundation is to inspire stewardship of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. To learn more about PPFF, visit https://paparksandforests.org/.

Spotlight on Mont Alto State Park

Spotlight on Mont Alto State Park

The “dog days” of summer are behind us and the crisp, cooler air of the fall season will soon give you an opportunity to enjoy some outdoor recreation among trees, bright with autumn colors.  Now is the perfect time to discover Mont Alto State Park.  Its quiet 24 acres features two pavilions, tables for picnicking, trails for hiking and the west branch of Antietam Creek, which runs through it, for trout fishing.

While it may not offer all the amenities of some larger state parks (i.e. swimming or camping facilities), a father with his six children I met while visiting the park called it, “Franklin County’s secret gem.”  Mont Alto State Park lies on both sides of Rt. 233, adjacent to the Mont Alto Campus of Penn State University.

The land was first occupied by the Mont Alto Charcoal Iron Furnace built in 1807 by Colonel Daniel Hughes and his sons on land granted to Hughes’ father by Lord Baltimore.  In 1864, the iron works was sold to a partnership headed by Colonel George B. Weistling of Harrisburg, who built a summer resort there, and in 1875, established the Mont Alto Park.

The park quickly became a popular mountain retreat.  On special occasions, it was not unusual for 8,000 to 10,000 people to come and enjoy what the park offered – a dance pavilion, kitchen facilities, secluded walking trails, swings, quoit and croquet grounds, a shooting gallery, picturesque springs, an overlook atop Oak Knob and a gymnasium.  The only structure remaining is the unique domed dance pavilion.  But as you walk through the surrounding mountain, you can still see many remnants of the past.

The park outlived the ironworks, which ceased operations in 1893, not long after the death of Mr. Wiestling.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the park and furnace lands, which became part of Michaux State Forest.  The park became Mont Alto State Forest Park, Pennsylvania’s first state park in 1902 and remains is the oldest park in the Pennsylvania state park system.  It was later renamed Mont Alto State Park.  George B. Wiestling’s house became the Commonwealth’s first forestry school, Mont Alto Forestry Academy.  Today it is the Mont Alto Campus of the Pennsylvania State University and the Wiestling home is still in use.

Much has changed over the years, but much has remained the same if you check out the trees, wildflowers, ferns and wildlife.  In my brief visit to the park, I came upon some jewelweed flowers and a reptile I had never seen before or even heard of – a blue-tailed skink lizard!

Go ahead, explore Franklin County!  You too may be surprised at what you will discover.

Special thanks to Franklin County CTA Nancy Godfrey, author of this spotlight article of Franklin County attractions.

Stay On The Move in Franklin County With the New FCVB Rec Guide

Stay On The Move in Franklin County With the New FCVB Rec Guide

Franklin County Visitors Bureau announces the release of its newest publication On the Move in Franklin County, featuring year-long recreation for the whole family.

The guide, available in print and in the publications sections of the website, features year-long fun including skydiving, golfing, visiting the local environmental centers, fly-fishing, tennis, yoga, hydrotherapy floats, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, swimming and much more!

Situated in the heart of the beautiful Cumberland Valley, Franklin County compliments four-seasons of outdoor enjoyment. It is home to two national trails— the Appalachian Trail and the Tuscarora Trail, four PA State Parks and the lands of two state forests. Topping off the plentiful state and national trail options are more than three dozen municipal and local recreation areas throughout Franklin County. Whether seeking a family-friendly day of connecting with nature, taking to a quiet trail or meeting an intense outdoor challenge, Franklin County is the spot.

The guide’s release, in late November, is done in perfect time to highlight some of the winter highlights of the region during the colder months, including the beautiful hiking trails.

Franklin County contains all or part of four state parks, including Mont Alto State Park and Caledonia State Park, which are the oldest existing parks in the state. These parks are at the heart of the Pennsylvania conservation efforts and the forest lands are tied to Joseph Trimble Rothrock, the first Pennsylvania Forestry Commissioner, who was an advocate for conservation and helped found the Mont Alto Forestry School, now Penn State Mont Alto.

Other local parks and forests that have beautiful views for hiking includes Buchanan Birthplace State Park, where a large monument for Mercersburg-native and former President James Buchanan stands as well as nearly 19 acres of forest. Enjoy ice-skating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing on the lake at Cowans Gap State Park in the snowy months.

Michaux State Forest in the east, Buchanan State Forest in the west and Tuscarora State Forest in central Franklin County, all have a wide variety of beautiful trees to see while hiking and enjoying nature in all seasons.

Winter is a great time to hit the trails of Whitetail Resort on skis, snowboards or even by snow tube! The resort, located in Two Top Mountain in the Tuscarora Mountains in Mercersburg, has 23 different trails from beginner hills to more advanced trails. Whitetail has gone through several renovations over the years, including longer trails, lighting on terrain for night skiing, halfpipe, a terrain park and snow tubing park with 10 lanes.

On the Move joins the seven yearly specialty publications that the Franklin County Visitors Bureau produces in their mission to promote the county, including the Franklin County Visitors Guide, Military Trail of History Guide, Fresh Food & Dining Guide, Franklin County Wedding & Event Planner and more!