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Be safe Out There! -- Take Your Time, Plan and Prepare Before Heading Outdoors image
January 24, 2023
Be safe Out There! -- Take Your Time, Plan and Prepare Before Heading Outdoors

DiscoverNEPA is all about celebrating Northeastern Pennsylvania’s abundant and vibrant natural spaces. We want you to get outside, relax and unwind in the mountain air, among the towering trees, along the crystal-clear lakes and streams. We just want to make sure everyone enjoys these places safely and respectfully.

That’s why we’re teaming up with state agencies, local conservation authorities and outdoor enthusiasts to bring you expert advice, tips and so much more to help you enjoy NEPA’s great outdoors.

Carefully Weigh the Risks of Any Outdoor Excursions, Especially in Winter

Photo Courtesy of PA Game Commission


January is that time of year that presents plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, no matter what the weather conditions are.

Skiing, skating, sledding, and snowmobiling are just a few that are normally associated with the winter months. One problem — they all require snow and/or cold temperatures for maximum enjoyment. And the way weather patterns have been in recent years, it’s anybody’s guess whether we’ll have a high of 50 degrees or 10 degrees. However, one outdoor activity that’s great for this time of year and for the most part, not weather dependent, is hiking.

With the amount of local, state and national parks found in the Northeast, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of public land out there just ripe for exploring. Terrain ranges from flat, groomed trails, to steep mountain sides, and many of the highest elevations offer spectacular views that make the effort worthwhile. But before you zip up the parka and grab the water bottle to head out, take the time to take care of yourself first. For a lot of people, the winter months are a time of reduced physical activity, so if you intend to head out for one hour, or a whole day, you need to plan accordingly.


Photo Courtesy of PA Game Commission


Always prep (physically and mentally) before a sojourn in the woods.

When someone that “drives a desk” or doesn’t do a lot of physical activity during the week decides on Saturday morning to take a twenty-mile hike “up in the mountains”, they’re inviting trouble. Slips and falls can result in a wide variety of injuries, and it seems like heart attacks and strokes don’t need much of an excuse for happening these days, so take an honest look at your physical condition before heading out. Always start any type of exertion activities with stretching and bending exercises, especially the legs.

Watch the weather and dress accordingly and do a little research on the area you plan to explore. Buy a compass, learn how to use it, and carry a map of the area you’re going to. We tend to rely too much on cells phones and GPS units to guide us around. That’s fine, but I never had a compass battery die. And be aware that other than black bears, wildlife is still going about its daily routine and is likely to be encountered in remote areas. So, plan for the day and enjoy your time outdoors. And take lots of pictures!


Always be aware of current regulations, potential safety alerts and trail closures before heading out. You can keep up on regulations at the PA Game Commission website. And look for trail closures and park alerts at individual PA State Park websites.