Adventures in Pine Grove Furnace State Park

pinegrove1My daughter cannot manage to walk up the hill from the bus stop without whining, taking a break, groaning loudly, or just altogether stopping and refusing to go farther.

However, place her in the woods on a hot and humid summer afternoon (after five miles of bike riding!) and make her a hike a rocky trail with a steep incline and a pack of mosquitos hot on her tail, she is good to go.

Children are confusing.

Number 19 on my quest to visit all Pennsylvania state parks was Pine Grove Furnace State Park, and the hike was only one of the highlights.

pinegrove2We biked: The bike trail connects the Furnace Stack Day Area to Laurel Lake. Unfortunately, it is pretty crowded with swimmers and picnickers in certain areas, and in other areas cars are allowed on the trail. It was a little stressful since we had novice riders with us; however, it was a good opportunity to teach the kids to be a bit more aware of their surroundings when riding.

pinegrove4

There were several places to stop along the trail and splash in the creek, which is always my kids’ favorite thing to do. We also took a short (.25 mile) hike along our way on the Swamp Trail  – mainly because I liked the name.

We swam: The beach was crowded, but the kids enjoyed playing in the sand. We often go to Gifford Pinchot State Park to swim, which does not have sand, so they were impressed. Of course, they didn’t want to leave, but I had other plans.

pinegrove3

We hiked: This was the highlight of the trip for me. We climbed .75 mile up the side of Piney Mountain on the Pole Steeple trail. The trail was STEEP and rocky. After five miles of biking earlier in the day, I was a little nervous that this was not the best decision, but the kids pulled through.

The children had two speeds up the mountain. Fast and stopped. They would run ahead – with me calling ridiculous motherly things from behind like “Don’t go too fast!” and “Watch your footing!” They, however, did not need my advice. My children are surefooted on hilly, rocky slopes. My daughter may trip and fall several times during soccer practice on the nice flat, grass-covered field; however, if you add some hazards (steep inclines! jagged rocks! slippery gravel!), she manages to say upright.

When they ran out of energy, they simply stopped. When my husband and I would catch up to them, they would be stretched out on a bed of moss or along a flat rock. As soon as we approached, they popped up and continued their quest to beat us to the summit.

The view from the top is amazing. Just when we had all pretty much run out of steam, we circled a large rock formation, climbed over a few rocks, exited the trees, and … WOW. Everything opened up, and it was just blue sky, trees, and mountains.

My children even managed to slow down, pause, and appreciate the view for a moment. This is noteworthy and the main reason I decided to record this adventure.

It was definitely a hike worth taking.

***

What’s your favorite adventuring spot with your kids?

5 Things I Learned in the Everglades

everglades4Recently, my family and I traveled to Florida for ten days. We spent the majority of our time lounging on the beach but managed to squeeze in some adventuring, as well. One of the highlights of our trip was a fifteen mile tram ride through Everglades National Park in Shark Valley. On our ride, we saw a variety of birds, alligators, snakes, and turtles. And, a lot of mosquitoes!  Part of the journey included climbing up a 65-foot observation tower for a birds-eye view of the “River of Grass.” It was stunning.Read More »