Editor’s note: This is the eighth installment of a nine-part weekly column about the Centred Outdoors program, organized by ClearWater Conservancy and community partners with funding from a Centre Foundation Centre Inspires grant.
This week you are welcome to join Centred Outdoors as we explore The Arboretum at Penn State’s Hartley Wood from 2-5 p.m. Sunday and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday. Come enjoy a walk through Hartley Wood beginning at the Sunset Park parking area on McKee Street and discover the Gerhold Wildflower Trail and Bellefonte Central Rail Trail.
The Arboretum is a central location for many outdoor activities around State College. The trails in Hartley Wood and the rail trail are great places to take leisurely strolls under a thick canopy of oak and maple trees. Out of the woods, a field opens up to wildflowers including milkweed, which are essential for monarch butterflies.
Hawks and vultures can often be seen soaring above the tree line, while bluebirds and other songbirds have nests nearby and swoop by as they catch insects. In recent years, The Arboretum has started sectioning off parcels of woodland where, with the help of hundreds volunteers from the university and the community, they work to remove invasive shrubs and trees and restore native plants.
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The H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens in The Arboretum consist of more than 800 species and cultivars of plants — both native and exotic — arranged in several striking gardens and collections. Visitors can experience the variety of flowers in bloom throughout the spring, summer and fall months.
A spacious pavilion provides a scenic view toward Hartley Wood and distant ridges, and a large stone sculpture next to it depicts a map of the Spring Creek Watershed, which has been explored throughout the summer during Centred Outdoors events. The nearby Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden is a wonderful place to take your kids to play around nature-related scenes, including a man-made cave, a gigantic hollow stump with chimes and a play scape with a giant caterpillar and mushrooms.
The hike starts at Sunset Park and enters Hartley Wood, where we will follow the Gerhold Wildflower Trail. At the end of that trail, we will follow a path leading onto the rail trail, heading toward the paved McKee Street/Clinton Avenue bike path and back to the park. In total, the hike is about 1.5 miles long and is relatively flat. Plan on taking about an hour and a half to complete the walk.
Wear comfortable walking shoes that you do not mind getting a little muddy. Be sure to bring a water bottle, and binoculars for birdwatching. Ticks may be present, so it is advised to wear long pants and complete a tick check after the hike. Dogs are allowed on leashes in the woods and fields, but are not permitted in the gardens.
On Sunday, hikes will begin at 2, 3 and 4 p.m. On Wednesday, hikes will begin at 6 and 7 p.m. We hope to see you out there!
Lanagan is a Penn State graduate in geoscience and science education. She is currently working for the National Parks Service.
If you go
What: Centred Outdoors guided outing
When: 2-5 p.m. Sunday and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: 850 McKee Street, State College