Long winters = beautiful springs, and whew…that was a really long winter!
The Mid-Atlantic region experienced record snowfall and long stretches of cold weather this year providing a ton of outdoor wintery fun for many of those who love winter outdoor adventures –but for those who love the warmer seasons, spring has now arrived in the Mid-Atlantic region and with it comes tons of outdoor opportunity.
Throughout the winter, the thousands of miles of state forest gravel roads are often inaccessible. As spring thaw unfolds, adventurers can once again delve deeper into the forest to explore. Be careful in early spring, though, because road conditions will change quickly; what may begin as a dirt road can become a sheet of ice around the bend.
This year spring begins on March 20 and ends on June 21. In many areas throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region, after a season of heavy snowfall, the water will run swift and deep through the mountains and make some of our favorite river, stream, creek, waterfall and mountain spring destinations even more beautiful.
Plan Ahead: We are big fans of impromptu adventures, but it is helpful to remember that outdoor recreation is more popular than ever, so having a basic plan for where you plan to go, where you plan to stay if you're doing an overnight adventure, and making sure you have permits/reservations where they are needed is always a good idea. Note: your Purple Lizard Maps provide lots of detail for each area we map in PA,OH, and WV and are good references for how to contact land managers if permits are needed.
Porcupines are active in the spring - just like us, they are happy to be outside again! That whole 'they can shoot their quills' concept is a myth, you can get very close to a porcupine if they will let you.
Don’t be afraid to make a backup plan: We are big fans of the “monitor and adjust” adventure philosophy. If your chosen hike or destination is packed, a stream crossing is too deep to safely cross, or the trailhead parking lot is overcrowded, just check out your Lizard Map to get the the big picture and make a new plan.
Daffodils are a sure sign that spring has arrived!
Have you seen them in your area yet?
Adventure is for every body - so keep it fun for all. Plan for the ability level of your companions. Make your outdoor adventure accessible and fun for everyone who wants to join you. No need to conquer the mountain or log killer miles every time you hit the trail. A slow wander among the trees can be quite satisfying. Remember – the real joy is in the journey!
Open water! No more ice is a welcome change in springtime for paddling in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Weather is weather – plan for change: One thing we know for sure after this last year is we can always count on change. The weather in springtime can change dramatically. Whether you are on an afternoon stroll or overnight trip, make sure you pack for the opposite of the weather you set out in. Carrying a fleece or sweater, a warm hat and/or a rain jacket makes sense this time of year.
Water is water – plan for change: Remember, your favorite streamside camping spot may be under water this time of year. That biking or hiking stream crossing you did in the fall may not be passable this time of year. Respect the power and variability of the water in the forest. It has a mind and soul of its own – especially in springtime.
Karma the Adventure Dog enjoying some spring hiking and stream flow.
Stay Safe: As always when heading into the forest be mindful of your safety and the safety of others. Tell someone your plans, check hunting season schedules for the area, wear a mask when encountering others, and be sure to respect the COVID guidelines for the area you are visiting.
The tunnel at Poe Paddy State Park in PA is a favorite place to explore.
Have Fun! Whether you are planning a weekend drive, a family camping trip, a long distance hike, an afternoon of forest bathing, or an epic ride, take some time to step back, breathe deep and enjoy the beauty of spring as the forest comes alive.
A West Virginia mossy wonderland.
See you out there on the trails!
s the worldwide pandemic continues many folks are discovering or re-discovering the gift of exploring on public land. With proper social distancing, and masking, spending time exploring the outdoors on public land - hiking can be a safe way to connect with loved ones and the natural world.
Whether you are a beginner hiker, or getting back out there for the first time in a while, this guide will give you some simple steps to enjoying hiking safely during the pandemic and any time.