State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Seniors on the Trail to Adventure

by on July 01, 2013 2:20 PM

At a time when most people their age are settling back in their La-z-boys, these senior citizens are on their feet and pushing themselves to new heights. Members of the Centre Region Senior Hiking group have been exploring local trails for more than 20 years now.

That's all the more impressive, when you consider that all of these hikers are at least 55 years old. One tireless woman is still hiking at 81!

Last week, nine senior hikers took on the Rock Run Trail that runs through Black Moshannon State Park. Why do they do it?

“It’s good for you, and you meet a lot of nice people,” says Carolyn Holt, one of the hikers, who's a former State College High School biology teacher.

The group includes men and women, although on this particular day, only lady hikers were blazing trails through the green hills, filled with ferns and mountain laurel. As the women navigated the path you could hear a woodpecker hammering away at a nearby tree. The hikers are always listening for rattlesnakes, which luckily don't appear too often. The hikers say one time they even saw a bear.

Falene Hamilton has been hiking with the group since it started. She says the Rock Run Trail can be one of the state's more challenging trails.

“When people hit Pennsylvania, they start using swear words, because there are rocks and rocks and rocks and rocks and rocks,” says Hamilton. 

Fortunately, there wasn't much cussing on this particular trip. After a leisurely one-and-a-half mile march through the rolling hills, the hikers were ready for a break and a meal. Lunch included peanut butter and crackers, and other snacks, to get fueled up for the return trip. 

Judy Rice, who coordinates the hikes, says the first priority is safety. She carries along a first aid kit each trip and reminds hikers to bring lunch and plenty of water.

The emergency supplies weren't needed as everyone made it through the hike without without a scratch.

Unfortunately, umbrellas were in short supply when the group was caught in a heavy downpour, leaving everyone soaking wet for the ride home. 

Even the rain couldn't dampen the spirit of these intrepid hikers. They'll be back out on Tuesday to hike on the John Wert Path in the Rothrock State Forest.  

Lee Bombaugh, the 81-year-old hiker says she especially enjoys going out to eat once they get off the trail and back to civilization. She loves the long walks, but says, “It’s nice when it’s over.”

To see's list of hiking trails in and around State College, click HERE.

Cynthia Hill is a Penn State student who's working as an intern for
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