Cook Forest State Park hosts wildlife expeditions

From staff reports

Just because the herds of people have migrated away during the wintertime, doesn’t mean the wildlife is gone too.

Matter of fact, winter along the Clarion River is one of the best times of the year to observe wildlife in the park, especially some of the oddballs that you don’t get to see in the summer: migrating birds, river otter, and fisher.

How many species of birds and mammals do you think we can document along the National Wild & Scenic Clarion River, 30, 40, 50?

To find out, bring your binoculars to the park office for an interpretive driving tour of Clear Creek State Park, the Clarion River, and Cook Forest.

The expedition begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, at the park office in Cook Forest.

The expedition should be done around 11:30 a.m.

Hot chocolate and coffee will be available at the park office to warm up.

Cross-country night ski expedition

Bring your cross country skis and headlamps and meet at the Nuthole Cabin, located at the entrance to Ridge Camp, for a candlelit evening interpretive flat cross country ski trip beginning at 6 p.m. Jan. 25.

This expedition travels among 350-year-old white oak and hemlock trees within the old growth forest of Fire Tower Road and Mohawk Trail.

If snow conditions aren’t good, there will be a snowshoe or hike instead.

Hot chocolate and a cozy cabin will be available to warm up.

For more information about the events, call (814) 744-8407.

Cook Forest features 27 marked trails totaling some 29 miles for hiking.

The terrain is of rolling hills and cool valley streams. Special scenic areas are the old growth forest, Fire Tower/Seneca Point and the Clarion River.

Among Cook Forest’s primary attractions is the “Forest Cathedral” area of old growth white pine and hemlock trees, some of which top 180 feet.

A somewhat more minor attraction is the short rock “grotto” found in the midst of the mountain-laurel thickets along Seneca trail, roughly halfway between the Fire Tower/Seneca Point area and the end of Deer Park Trail.