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By Paula Franken

Why does it feel so good to get outside after being cooped up indoors?

Whether it’s for a jog or just a few minutes of birdsong and breeze, being outdoors is healthy.

“Outdoor recreation is a gateway to better health,” says orthopaedic surgeon Michael Suk, MD, JD, who also happens to be a former special assistant to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “With exposure to nature, hemoglobin numbers drop in the prefrontal cortex of your brain.”

What does that mean in plain English? “You relax and decision-making switches off, feelings of pleasure and gratitude increase, your body’s immune system is given a healthy boost — and you just feel good.”

After a quiet summer in 2020, this summer’s the time for adventure — and Pennsylvania’s the place. Head north to some of our state’s remote locations and you’ll find plenty to explore.

Northern Pennsylvania is wilder than you think. Start planning your summer adventure road trip.

Drink in the Milky Way

Night sky public viewing at Cherry Springs State Park.

One of the best places on the eastern seaboard to admire the night sky is right here in Pennsylvania. Starry-eyed yet? Welcome to Cherry Springs State Park — 82 acres surrounded by the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest. It’s Potter County at its darkest, wildest and most wonderful.

The park features a Night Sky Public Viewing Area for short-term stargazing. If you’re interested in more than a few hours, make a reservation at the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field and the sky is yours.

Do we have to axe twice?

Annual Woodsmen Show at Cherry Springs State Park.

This August, the 69th Annual Woodsmen Show is coming to Cherry Springs State Park. The event features chainsaw carving, axe throwing, crosscut and log roll competitions along with auctions, entertainment, vendors and gun and chainsaw raffles.

Watch your step at the PA Grand Canyon

The PA Grand Canyon nesteld in Pine Creek Gorge.

Deep within the 165,000-acre Tioga State Forest is nestled the spectacular Pine Creek Gorge. At over 1,400 feet deep, 47 miles long and a mile wide, our state’s version of the Grand Canyon offers spectacular views and endless hiking, biking and camping. You might even see an elk or two.  

Underground icicles — only when it’s warm

Coudersport ice mine contains of ice various shapes and forms.

No one is sure why the Coudersport ice mine only forms ice in the spring and summer. But if you’re intrigued by the cooler mysteries of nature, this spot is a must-see. The ice appears in various shapes and forms — sometimes measuring up to 3 feet thick and 25 feet long. Grab a jacket and see it for yourself.

Be on the lookout for elk

Rocky Mountain elk roam the aptly named Elk County.

Between 1913 and 1926, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released 177 Rocky Mountain elk into the Pennsylvania wilds. Today, this herd numbers over a thousand. Benezette, located along Route 555 in the aptly named Elk County, is a prime location for spotting these majestic creatures. Start at the Benezette Hotel and travel north along Winslow Hill Road for 3.5 miles to reach the public viewing area. 

Dare to look down?

The Kinzua Sky Walk over the Kinzua Gorge in Kane.

The Kinzua Sky Walk over the Kinzua Gorge in Kane is a walkway on what was once the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world. Extending 624 feet out and 225 feet above the valley floor, the views are breathtaking — even before you step onto the glass floor at the very end.

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