Cooler temperatures inspire loads of winter fun in Pennsylvania, from ice boating to snow tubing. As Old Man Winter works his magic in Pennsylvania, summer crowds disperse and snow-dusted beauty abounds in state parks and forests bustling with outdoor fun for all ages. Add one of these stimulating outdoor activities to your Keystone State itinerary.
Dogsledding excursions supply tail-wagging experiences amid Pennsylvania’s gorgeous snow-carpeted landscapes. The adorable and athletic Alaskan Huskies at Nemacolin power snowy treks across the southwestern PA countryside. The indelible outing is enhanced with a kennel tour and a visit with the musher.
Get your motor running on thousands of miles of roads, trails, and fields open for snowmobiling in our state forests and parks and federal lands. Opportunities range from scenic paths through woods to straightaway runs on closed-to-cars roadways. Most routes are open from mid-December to early April; check current dates and trail conditions.
McKean County has more than 140 miles of trails that connect to an additional 365 miles of pathways within the Allegheny National Forest, including the Allegheny Snowmobile Loop. Other popular places to snowmobile include Bald Eagle State Forest in central Pennsylvania, which boasts 250 miles of roads and trails open for snowmobiling, and Tioga State Forest in northern PA, where 177 miles of trails draw riders from near and far.
3. Cross-Country Skiing
While Pennsylvania has a robust roster of ski resorts and areas for downhill enthusiasts, the state also hosts plenty of opportunities for cross-country skiers. Hit groomed and ungroomed trails in state and local forests situated in Susquehanna, Wyoming, and Sullivan counties in the Endless Mountains of Northeastern PA. Book a stay at a friendly lodge for a multiday adventure; the Eagles Mere Inn, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, is just two blocks away from the Conservancy Trails — perfect for cross-country skiing, and Eagles Mere Lake.
A hub for hikers and bikers in the summer, the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage is regularly groomed for cross-country aficionados on the portion that passes through Ohiopyle State Park. Presque Isle and Parker Dam State Parks also become Nordic wonderlands when summertime pathways are converted into pristine ski zones.
4. Snow Tubing
Many Pennsylvania ski areas offer snow tubing, a fantastic alternative for those who prefer not to don ski boots. And forget dragging your ride up the hill — magic carpets and rope tows do all the work for you! Camelback Mountain in the Pocono Mountains boasts the largest tubing park in the U.S. with more than 40 sledding lanes, while AvalancheXpress at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York has a seven-story, 900-foot tubing hill.
Mercersburg’s Whitetail Resort is also known for its excellent sledding terrain; book a tubing party or purchase a two-hour block of riding time. For an old-fashioned ride, try Eagles Mere Toboggan Slide, which has amused kids of all ages since the early 1800s.
A mix of sailing, ice skating and sledding, ice boating is an ideal endeavor for extreme recreation enthusiasts. Iceboats, essentially sailboats with sled rails, can glide up to 70 miles per hour across frozen surfaces. Set sail on the frozen waters of 19 Pennsylvania State Parks, including Moraine, Codorus, Beltzville, Pymatuning, Black Moshannon, and Presque Isle (state launch permits are required). Those who’ve never sailed on ice should consider connecting with the Erie Yacht Club, an excellent resource for first-timers.
6. Ice Fishing
Home to more than 2,500 lakes, Pennsylvania teems with outstanding ice-fishing locales in the wintertime. Hot picks for ice fishing include Lake Chillisquaque at Montour Preserve in Danville, where schools of yellow perch, northern pike, and walleye hide under the ice, and Crook Creek Lake, a hangout for bass, musky, sunfish, and crappie just 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Lyman Run State Park near Coudersport is known for rewarding anglers with catches of rainbow and palomino trout, while Black Moshannon State Park near Philipsburg has yellow perch, bluegill, northern pike, and largemouth bass.
7. Ice Skating
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced skater, Pennsylvania has divine surfaces for gliding outdoors on picturesque lakes and reservoirs. Cook Forest, Gifford Pinchot, Nockamixon, and Presque Isle State Parks and Green Lane and Oxford Valley parks are just a few of the many PA lakes and ponds offering ice-skating fun. Cook Forest State Park‘s lighted pond offers a fire ring, skate rental, and a nearby sledding hill.
For an urban delight, consider the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink at Dilworth Park in Philadelphia, which has a warming hut with hot chocolate, coffee, and snacks, while the Earl E. Schaffer Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink has an outdoor Olympic sized rink and offers an adaptive skate session for those with special needs. Find more places to ice skate in PA.
8. Carriage Rides
For a relaxing and romantic cruise through Pennsylvania’s postcard-worthy winter woodlands, book a horse-drawn carriage ride. Gateway Lodge in Cooksburg offers beautiful rides along snow-dusted trails in the heart of Cook Forest — a perfect way to enjoy a winter stay at this iconic property.
To learn about more winter adventures in Pennsylvania, check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.