While most trails in the region are open year-round, Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Crawford County offers a unique opportunity. Its five trails include manageable distances for beginners and unique sights that will interest even the most seasoned hikers.
How to dress
Wear layers of clothes
That goes for your feet, too.
Sunburns aren't temperature dependent, so remember sunscreen.
Take to the refuge
Access is free year-round, and it's open from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset, said refuge Park Ranger Breanna Anderson. Trail maps are available at the visitor's center, 11296 Wood Duck Lane, Guys Mills, which is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and at fws.gov/refuge/erie/.
Try these trails
If you're a rookie, head to 1-mile long Muddy Creek Holly Trail on Seneca Division. As the refuge's only boardwalk trail, footing is surer than on the others, which Anderson said have a mulch base.
Tsuga Nature Trail on Sugar Lake is an intermediate choice. The traditional wintertime activities also happen on 3-mile Deer Run Trail, the refuge's longest trail.
One-mile Beaver Run Trail is in the Sugar Lake District. Trolley Line Trail follows an old grade for almost 2 miles in the Seneca District.
Without leaves on the trees, it's easier to spot birds and animals. They're most active early in the morning and around dusk.
The backpacks are filled with easy-to-play games, a pair of binoculars and guidebooks that will help you and your children identify plants and animals.