Anywhere is within walking distance

Summertime is a great time of year and in Somerset County the climate is perfect for outdoor activities.  Campers are certainly enjoying the cooler evenings with night temperatures averaging between 50 and 60 degrees these last few weeks. It’s the perfect sleeping weather and not having to use the air conditioning is an added bonus.  Cool nights are perfect for campfires, and cooler days are perfect for outdoor activities like walking, riding around the campground in the golf cart or hiking. 

Hickory Hollow Campground has a fun activity on the schedule for this weekend that involves some easy “hiking/riding.” Join us for the annual “Golf Cart/Walking Poker Run” scheduled for Saturday, August 7 from 5- 8 pm.  Come to camp prepared with props and cool ideas to decorate your golf cart; this year’s theme is “Under the Sea.”  Campers will be judged on their unique creativity and are invited to parade with us through the campground from 5-6 pm showing off their water themed golf carts.  Then from 6-8 pm the “Poker Run” kicks off, and walkers and riders are encouraged to participate and gather playing cards from different locations throughout the grounds.   The winner is determined by the participant’s showing up at the end destination with cards in hand and the best “poker hand” winning. 

Some people call a nice quiet, hiking experience when the sun is beaming above your head on a beautiful summer day a win too!  But whether you are casually walking like you will be doing for the “Poker Run” on Saturday, or hitting one of the trails around the campground or local area, preparation is key for a safe and comfortable adventure.  Take a look at these essential tips you should be aware of before you head out for that summer hike/stroll/ bike ride or other outdoor activity.   

  1. Check the weather forecast.  Somerset County has some pretty unpredictable pop-up storms so stay in tune with the local weather apps before venturing out too far.  The weather will also help you make good choices for clothing, shoes, and other gear to take along.
  2. It is recommended to avoid long hikes during the hottest time of the day, usually around noon-3pm.  If you are planning to hike any distance, get an early start and plan to end by early afternoon when the sun and humidity is highest. 
  3.  Plan your hike in a way where you find yourself in the shade during the hottest hours.  Get a lay of the land and hike near trees, water, and in shady areas.  Dip your clothing or hat in some cool water and drape around your neck to help maintain your body freshness as water evaporates when you sweat. 
  4. Hydration is key! The amount of water you need depends on factors like temperature and humidity, your intensity level, body type, age, sweat rate and the duration of your hike.  Make sure you have ample water to get you through the hike and back home safely.    
  5. Protect yourself from sunburn & bug bites.  Sunscreen and insect repellant are essential, but also consider investing in some sun-protection clothing with long sleeves as another source of sun/bug defense. 
  6. Know the signs of heat exhaustion, the inability of your body to cope with the stress of heat.  Watch for symptoms like heavy sweating, fatigue, rapid breathing and faintness. 
  7. Wear the proper attire.  Clothes with quick drying properties allow adequate ventilation and prevent dampness and that uncomfortable feeling during your activity.  Wear thinner socks and avoid heavy base layers. Think about throwing an extra hat, pair of socks, handkerchief, and a pair of polarized sunglasses in your bag before heading out just in case. 

Hickory Hollow has a beautiful walking trail that takes you about ¼ of a mile around Lake Ann and ends up close to the pavilion and tent sites.  Just a note, bugs like the water as much as we do, so please remember to spray before you play and you will have a much more enjoyable walk.  If you’re looking for some great trails outside of the campground, see AllTrails.com https://www.alltrails.com/us/pennsylvania/rockwood for a list of some of the best trails in the local area.  The site provides curated trail maps, driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from nature lovers like yourself.  You will find some great local park options around Forbes State Forest, Ohiopyle State Park, Laurel Ridge State Park, Mount Davis, Roaring Run Natural Area, Kooser State Park and Laurel Hill State Park and the state game lands, all located within close proximity to Hickory Hollow Campground.  The trails range from 0.9 miles to 10 miles and from 2,306 to 2,959 feet above sea level.  The site offers you options for kid and pet friendly trails, to forest and nature trails, to safe running trails.

If you are looking for even more adventure, check out the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail which is a 70 mile trail that stretches along Laurel Mountain from the picturesque Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown.  This trail is probably the most used trail for seasoned backpackers who enjoy the challenge of steep, rugged areas of trails. Connector trails lead to and from trailheads and shelter areas and are marked with mile markers. With six trailheads, you will find overnight parking and trash receptacles if you are planning an extended hike.  A Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail map can be downloaded at http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx website.  

It’s not hard to fall in love with Somerset Counties trails, from rivers to mountains, so check out the routes and get exploring.  Whether you are a hiker or a gambler, the distance between your dreams and reality lies ahead of you, in just one more adventure, so always take the scenic route.   

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