PENNSYLVANIA — Roll the windows down, enjoy the scenery and breathe in the fresh air. The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s driving tours through state game lands are just up the road.
Eight tours are scheduled throughout the state in 2023, the first of which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 1. Other tours will be held on Sunday, Oct. 8, and Sunday, Oct. 15.
The tours provide a good example of the opportunities available on game lands statewide, while showcasing how habitat work being done on these tracts benefit wildlife.
All tours are free, held rain or shine, and open only to vehicles licensed for travel on public roads.
The tour schedule follows:
Sunday, Oct. 1
- State Game Lands 12, Bradford County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – This tour will highlight habitat enhancements, infrastructure improvements and hunting opportunities. The tour will showcase what Game Commission wildlife habitat crews, as well as dedicated volunteers from several conservation organizations, have accomplished on public land. The 28-mile, self-guided, circular driving tour through State Game Lands 12 will take about two hours to complete. State Game Lands 12 consists of nearly 24,480 acres in Bradford County. The route will start at the game lands parking lot on top of Wheelerville Mountain on state Route 154, just south of Canton. Vehicles with good ground clearance are recommended. The route travels east to the Barclay Cemetery, then down the hill to Laquin before turning west onto the railroad grade to Wheelerville. The tour ends at the intersection with state Route 154 in Wheelerville. From there, those on the tour can travel north on state Route 154 to Canton, or south to Shunk in Sullivan County. The tour goes by Sunfish Pond County Park, so a picnic lunch may be the order of the day! Those taking the tour will find the local history of the mountain and the Game Commission’s refuge system intriguing. A pocket guide with historical information and photographs will be provided to each vehicle at the start of the tour.
Sunday, Oct. 8
- State Game Lands 26, Bedford County, Noon to 3 p.m. – The public is invited to tour State Game Lands 26, a 12,000-acre tract situated in Blue Knob. The tour begins off Route 869 near the Bedford/Cambria county line and covers approximately 7 miles. Participants will find ample opportunity to enjoy the historical aspects of the game lands and the quality habitat improvements conducted by Pennsylvania Game Commission habitat crews in partnership with cooperating organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation. Work by the Game Commission’s forestry staff also will be showcased through the viewing of vast timber production brought forth through timber sales and timber stand improvements.
- State Game Lands 57, Luzerne and Wyoming counties, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain points of interest, including wildlife habitat-improvement projects. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance are required for this 30-mile, self-guided driving tour and it will take about three hours to complete. The tour will pass habitat-improvement projects completed by the State Game Lands 57 wildlife habitat crew with help from the National Wild Turkey Federation, Whitetails Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. The route will start at the game lands parking area on Mountain Springs Road just off state Route 487. Each vehicle will be provided with a map and brief explanation of wildlife habitat management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land.
Sunday, Oct. 15
- State Game Lands 67, Huntingdon County, Noon to 3 p.m. – This driving tour of a 5,700-acre tract begins off Route 913, between Coalmont and Dudley (look for the sign) and covers approximately 7 miles. Participants will find ample opportunity to enjoy the historical sites, quality habitat improvements conducted by Game Commission habitat crews in partnership with cooperating organizations such as the Huntingdon County Conservation District and the Shoup’s Run Watershed Association, as well as controlled-burn and quality forest management areas. This tour will be a self-guided driving tour only, as there will be no staff available to lead the excursion as in past years. Information will be provided to each vehicle at the start of the tour to help guide them on their way.
- State Game Lands 108, Cambria County, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – This tour will be a 7.5-mile, self-guided, one-way, driving tour and will highlight mountainous terrain and early fall foliage on the Allegheny Front and this 23,086-acre game lands. The tour begins at the game lands access road three-tenths of a mile north of Frugality, along state Route 53, in White Township. Look for the sign. The tour will conclude on state Route 865, near Blandburg in Reade Township. Items of interest along the tour route include a rehabilitated strip-mined area that has been converted to small-game habitat, where the Game Commission releases pheasants. The area also serves as a study area for grassland nesting birds, including the Henslow’s sparrow, a grassland species of special concern. Endangered northern harrier hawks and short-eared owls also inhabit the study area. There are also several forestry projects to improve habitat for wildlife, new road maintenance projects to improve access, and herbaceous openings that have been planted to provide food for wildlife along the tour route.
- State Game Lands 110, Berks County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – This tour begins at the Mountain Road gate approximately 5 miles west of Hamburg Borough and ends at the state Route 183 gate, 4 miles north of Strausstown. Game Commission personnel will be stationed along the tour route to provide site-specific information and answer questions.
- ·State Game Lands 211, Dauphin County, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Known as the Stoney Valley Tour, this tour begins at the Ellendale Forge gate, located 6 miles east of Dauphin Borough, along Stoney Valley Road, and ends at the Gold Mine gate. Game Commission personnel will be stationed along the tour route to provide site-specific information and answer questions.
- State Game Lands 252, Lycoming and Union counties, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – This tour primarily will focus on the varied habitats this game lands have to offer, including managed water impoundments, managed dove fields, woodcock management areas, warm-season grasses and old field management areas. Additionally, the game lands is home to the remnants of a World War II-era military installation and a historical town.