There is plenty to see out on the trails in Central Pennsylvania, and friendships to be made with other hikers. A group from the Centre Region Active Adult Center gets moving and making friends along the trails all season long.
Every Tuesday, in the summer heat through the cold of winter, they meet at the Westerly Parkway Shopping Plaza at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. November to March), gather up and carpool on out to the trail. Everyone pitches in a small fee to help pay for gas, and they venture out to various locations around the county to see what nature has to offer.
People like the hiking group so much that members started meeting on Thursdays as well. The Thursday group hikes closer to the State College area, where the Tuesday group gets further out to the many state parks and other natural areas. Sarah Malone has been involved with the group for about 15 years and now helps organize the group.
“Often people think of the Tuesday hikes as the ones you have to take tick precautions for and the Thursday ones you generally don’t need to,” said Malone.
She started hiking with other groups, but the timing of this group worked well with her schedule. Now she helps organize the hikes, and loves getting out with other older adults and seeing what the region has to offer.
“Anyone can come. We generally have seniors, people over 50 or 60 and all the way up to who knows what, because some of our hikers have been well up into their 90s,” said Malone. “I enjoy the exercise, getting out in nature and the socialization.”
Gary Moorman, of State College, has been hiking with the group for four to five years. He enjoys getting out and getting to new places. He said it is convenient because it is a usually just a half-day hike. He said that people who want to try hiking, but are a little nervous about getting into the woods, will have support from the group if they want to give it a try.
“We have nice folks. We generally have three groups of walkers, the fast group, the middle group and a slower group. So you just pick the ones you are comfortable moving along with. Some walkers only go part way and turn around and head back. So you can always find someone to walk with,” said Moorman.
Vonny Boarts said she likes to see new things and that it is nice to have a group to go with.
“I like it because they go all different places and I learn new places. I am somewhat reluctant to go off by myself in the woods, so it is nice to have some people you can rely on. We have all different skill levels — some of them are very fast and some are very slow. Sometimes if a hike is too strenuous and you think you don’t want to finish it, you can lag behind and there is a group you can fit in with,” said Boarts. She said she loves to see the different parts of the region.
Judy Rice has been hiking with the group for 12 years. She enjoys the fellowship and the chance to get out in nature and see the flowers bloom.
“We stop and smell the flowers, we don’t zoom past them. It is just a nice group of people with similar interests. You might find one or two people you might relate to better and you might do other things than just hiking; it is nice,” said Rice.