By Rick Hiduk
(Also published in North Branch Arts Trail)
Board members and staff of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) are anxious for the arrival of spring and the chance to get people outdoors for a variety of activities and events. Some are family-oriented, while others are for adults only. There are overnight options and day-trips, several of which benefit local non-profit organizations. But each stands as a remedy for cabin fever.
“If 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that people are getting more active in the outdoors. They want to escape their urban settings and come to more rural, spacious areas like the Endless Mountains,” said EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin. “Paddling, hiking, cycling and camping were very popular activities last year, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. Events like these not only provide opportunities to recreate but also a chance to learn something new about our region’s history and ecology.”
Three events planned for last year as part of the Sullivan County Hikes & Bikes Series have been rescheduled for 2021. Kicking the year off will be a two-day guided hike through Worlds End State Park that will highlight every overlook and vista in the park. On Saturday and Sunday, May 22 and 23, participants can choose between faster- and slower-paced hikes on two different routes through the park. Park rangers and DCNR foresters will be among those to greet them and share information about the historic and natural elements of the site.
Overnight options for all Hikes & Bikes events will included organized camping or a discounted stay at the Eagles Mere Inn. The second one is planned for Ricketts Glen State Park (below) on July 24 and 25, with a Sunday morning hike highlighting the Falls Trail. The fall foliage of the Loyalsock State Forest will be the star of a Hikes & Bikes event planned for Oct. 9 & 10, when cyclists will cover approximately 37-miles during the two-day period.
The Family Fun Sojourn is a paddling excursion that will traverse about 20 miles of the Susquehanna River between Wysox and Sugar Run on Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6. Guest speakers will provide kayak safety tips and environmental and history lessons, including that of French Azilum, where participants will spend the night. The $100 cost of the sojourn includes the trip, insurance, food and entertainment. For an additional $25, participants can rent a kayak or canoe from Endless Mountains Outfitters, where the journey will conclude.
The Summer Heritage Paddle, set for Saturday, July 10, is a one-day event in Wyoming County that will cover approximately 10 miles of the river from Riverside Park in Tunkhannock to Susquehanna Canoe & Kayak Rental in Falls. Outfitter owner Art Coolbaugh will provide safety information and guide the trip, and a member of the Countryside Conservancy will offer an environmental talk prior to the launch from Tunkhannock. Avid paddler and local historian Richard Fitzsimmons will also be giving a talk about the historic sites along this stretch of river, such as White’s Ferry. This is an adult event that will conclude with a barbecue dinner and beverage sampling with Nimble Hill Winery. The cost for participants is $60 for those with their own watercraft and $100 for those needing to rent a kayak or canoe. Proceeds will benefit the Wyoming County Historical Society.
A second Summer Heritage Paddle, slated for Saturday, July 31, will benefit the Shickshinny Historical Society. Participants will set in from the Hunlock Township launch and paddle about eight miles downriver to Five Mountain Outfitters in Shickshinny. Outfitter owner Brian Swingle will provide the safety talk, and EMHR water trail coordinator Emily Baldauf will give a talk on environmental stewardship. This adult event will wrap up with dinner from Boob’s Barbecue of Bloomsburg and tasting opportunities with the Five Mountain Brewing Company. The cost for participants is $60 for those with their own watercraft and $100 for those needing to rent a kayak or canoe.
The EMHR will take to the river one more time with the Fall Heritage Paddle on Saturday, Oct. 2. Endless Mountains Outfitters will rent watercraft to those who need them, and outfitter owner Keith Brown will provide the safety, environmental and history lessons of the stretch of Susquehanna River between the French Azilum historic site and EMO’s headquarters south of Wyalusing. The 10-mile, adults-only trip will conclude with dinner from Old School BBQ of Homets Ferry and beverage tasting with Deep Roots Hard Cider. The cost is the same as the summer paddles, and proceeds will benefit the French Azilum Historic site, representatives of which will provide a history presentation.
“After having to postpone or cancel many of our events last year due to the pandemic, we’re really looking forward to hosting some great outdoor fun and allowing people to experience the beautiful land and water trails of our region,” Chamberlin stated. “We appreciate the financial support we received from the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau and the Sullivan County Room Tax Committee, as well as the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers who all helped fund the events the EMHR is putting on this spring, summer and fall.”
Registration for each event is limited. Interested readers should log on to www.EMHeritage.org for more information and follow the Endless Mountains Heritage Region Facebook page for updates.