It never ceases to amaze me how our busy and hectic world seems to vanish from view when seen from the top of a mountain.  I know that there are cars and roads and houses down there...but Mother Nature always seems to engulf everything in her immense and raw beauty.  That beauty is what draws me, and so many  others, to our county and State parks and forests.  Just here, in Pennsylvania, our state parks and forests play host to about 40 million visitors each and every year.  All of these visitors naturally have some sort of impact on our state parks and forests.  Even if all of the rules and guidelines are strictly followed by every user, it is inevitable that there will be soil compression and litter from all of the foot traffic.

Looking out over the valley in Michaux State Forest from a vista on Blueberry Trail.  Photo by Alex Raymond -- April 10, 2020

This year, to escape stay at home orders, many more people have ventured into the parks and forests as a way to socially distance themselves and enjoy some form of recreation.  Seeing the vast number of  families spending time together in the outdoors makes my mind go back to my childhood and the family trips that my mother and father would take my brother and I on to Shawnee State Park and Ohiopyle State Park.  The extra visitors to the parks is an encouraging thing...and in my opinion, a GOOD thing.  It is, after all, human nature for people to want to be out in nature enjoying the best that our parks have to offer.  The recent influx of users on the trails in in the parks has, unfortunately has had a noticeable negative effect.  Park budgets, which are already being stretched to the limit, are now being used to clean up littler along trails, wash away graffiti, and repairing things like picnic tables, pavilions, and signs.  


This sign was/is posted at the Big Flat trail head prior to getting on the Appalachian Trail.  Picture taken in Michaux State Forest. -- April 10, 2020

My normal parking lot near the old iron furnace was packed with visitors to Pine Grove Furnace State I found an alternative parking spot a few miles away right next to the trail head.  -- May 2, 2020

It takes a lot to really make me angry...but come on!  The effort required to dump this entire bag of trash this far in the forest had to have been significantly harder than finding a trash can.  Picture taken in Michaux State Forest.  -- May 25, 2020

I could have taken dozens of pictures like this one at Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Just like anything else, animal waste should be disposed of properly...not "hidden" along side of a walking trail near the lake.  -- June 4, 2020

There is absolutely no need for this.  Pole Steeple in Michaux State Forest. -- August 1, 2018

I"m sure the person who did this had good intentions and thought that they were helping other mountain bikers...but these yellow lines painted on the rocks at Rocky Ridge County Park are nothing more than an eye sore and graffiti.   -- May 14, 2020

I may agree with the message...but the vandalism costs money to repair.  Picture taken in Michaux State Forest. -- June 9, 2020

The world right now is a tough enough place without causing needless destruction to our natural resources or work for the people who have dedicated themselves to making sure that the integrity of our parks and forests is maintained, not just for us, but for future generations.  Personally, I'd like to thank those people and groups that take it upon themselves to make sure that the great outdoors remain great.  A good basic rule for all of us to follow is to make sure that we leave the trails, the pavilions, the campsites, the beaches, and the parks and forests in general, in better condition in which you found it.  Leave no trace so that others can enjoy it, too.  

Only a complete s**t head would go through the effort to haul an old port-a-pot three miles into forest to dump it instead of disposing of it properly.  Picture taken at Lake Williams County Park. --  July 1, 2019

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- June 12, 2020
If you want to know more about how you can help protect our state parks and forests go to  

My wife, son, and I took a hike to the vista on top of Blueberry Trail in Michaux State forest.  It was the perfect place to enjoy lunch and take in the view.  Just remember...what you pack in you also have to pack out!  -- May 23, 2020

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Here are the links to the GARMIN maps and data from the rides and hikes featured in this post.  #OptOutside2020

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