Isolating inside or getting outdoors?

Libby Darrell, Special Features Editor

As the semester progresses, and with Family Weekend and Homecoming canceled, students at the University may begin to tire of their familiar routine. Although students are unable to return home and have to limit extraneous travels for the time being, that doesn’t mean students have to remain stuck in their dorms or off-campus houses forever. Before the weather turns cold, students need to make sure we are getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. 


What Opportunities are Available?

Prior to the pandemic, the University’s Outdoor Education and Leadership (OEL) was a great resource, and it is even more so now for students looking to explore hidden, outdoor gems in Lewisburg and Union County. According to OEL’s website, they are remaining active this semester, engaging students in remote medicine classes and teaching backcountry navigation, technical skills, rock climbing and paddling, among other activities. In addition, OEL is continuing its outing club trips this semester — with the proper COVID-19 precautions in place, of course. Some of the upcoming outing club trips for this semester include: a hiking trip at Ricketts Glen (Oct. 3), Stargazing at Cherry Springs (Oct. 10), biking the Rail Trail (Oct. 18) and a spooky canoe trip at the Milton State Park in the spirit of Halloween (Oct. 31). More information about OEL’s upcoming event calendar and how to sign up for these trips can be found on the OEL website.  

There are so many unique spots surrounding the University, and am in some ways appreciative that COVID-19 has encouraged me to break my habits and discover other safe ways to have fun. One of these special locations is the Raymond B. Winter State Park (or R.B. Winters). 


A Fun Saturday Outing 

On a brisk Saturday morning, around 11 a.m., my seven friends and I packed into two cars. We were planning on driving to go to R.B. Winters for an outdoor, well-ventilated day of hiking and exploring. That morning, the drive to the state park was not bad; in fact, driving west of the University proved to be an enjoyable 20-25 minute ride with pretty rural scenery and windy roads, with the occasional local farmer’s market placed on the side of the road. A fair warning about the drive to R.B. Winter State Park: all phone service pretty much cuts out close to the park, so be prepared to either memorize the directions (if you’re good with geography) or be old-fashioned and print them out. 

When you pull into the parking lot, a wide expanse of trees provides ample shade; a dirt path, with scattered picnic tables around it, leads visitors further into the brush, closer to the lake and beach area. According to the park’s website, visitors must wear a mask, social distance, sanitize frequently, avoid touching their faces and have proper hygiene when coughing or sneezing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 


R.B. Winter State Park 

Located on 695 acres of land in Central Pennsylvania, R.B. Winter State Park had a lot to offer. My friends and I were able to hike the Overlook Trail to the top of a lookout area and then walk the flatter Rapid Run Nature Trail. After our little exercise, we traveled to the Halfway Lake and beach. Because it was Labor Day weekend, there was a decent amount of people at the park; however, the beach was expansive enough to over-accommodate social distancing guidelines, and other visitors remained near their respective groups. In addition to the trails that we hiked that day, R.B. Winter State Park has plenty of other areas to explore, such as the Central Mountains Trail, the Boiling Spring Trail, the Old Tram Trial, the Brush Hollow Trail and the Mid State Trail, among some on the park’s map. And although we also did not spend the night at the park’s campgrounds, there are campground offerings to accommodate tents, trailers and motorhomes. Additionally, R.B. Winters has three campaign cottages available with windows, wooden walls and floors, electric heat, a porch and electric lights/outlets, as their website states. 

Natalie Slupe ’21 also visited R.B. Winter State Park that day and explained the exorbitant opportunities the recreational area offers. “Escaping to R.B. Winters was such a nice reprieve from the craziness of campus,” Slupe said. “It was so wonderful to be outside in the fresh air with good friends enjoying the nice weather! The hikes were so fun and lounging on the sandy ‘beach’ was a pleasant ending to the trip.”

Overall, the park was a great way to not only get outside during a heavily remote time but also to find out more about the area surrounding the University. Instead of moping about the changes we are enduring this semester or the presence of feeling isolated, get outdoors to see all that Lewisburg and nearby have to offer.

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