PROMPTON, PA — Smiles abounded on the faces of the young and the young-at-heart at Saturday’s Winter Trail Day held at Prompton State Park, PA. It was a day for embracing the white stuff and all of the outdoor winter fun that goes along with it.
Hosted by the Friends of Prompton State Park, a group dedicated to the improvement of park facilities and promoting tourism there, the well-attended event featured a variety of free demonstrations, including snowshoeing with Northeast Wilderness Experience, cross country skiing lead by The Lodge at Woodloch, geo-caching explained by a representative of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, disc golf with the Pocono Disc Golf Association, ice climbing information presented by Back Country Summit Guides, an ice safety demo by the PA Fish and Boat Commission, and an ice fishing tournament organized by Seaman’s Marine.
“It’s a great thing for the kids,” said Tino Penzone, a local Boy Scout leader who couldn’t wait to return to do some hiking with Troop 8 of Carbondale. Prompton State Park holds fond memories for Penzone. “We did a lot of ice fishing here over the years. We did a lot of fishing during the summertime, and kayaking. We had a great time—my brothers and my sons and my grandsons. It’s a nice place and not that far. We have so much within a close area here. People don’t realize what’s right in their own back yard that they’re not enjoying,” he said.
Having just jumped off a dark green, fat-tire mountain bike, 12-year-old Kayla McDonough, Penzone’s granddaughter, was exhilarated. “You could feel more traction than on a normal bike,” said the Carbondale area student.
“Everybody is stopping by because they’ve never seen bikes with wheels and tires this wide. They’re up to four-and-a-half inches wide, and the normal bike tire is only about two inches wide,” said Zach Wentzel of Sickler’s Bike and Sport Shop of Clarks Summit. Calling Prompton State Park an underutilized gem, Wentzel said, “I live at the dam. This is basically my backyard. I do everything here. I use the lake for my canoes with my family. We fish. There are eagles to watch. We use the trails to hike on and bike on. We hunt in the park.”
Saturday’s visit was a first for William Smith of Canadensis. Big on mountain biking and hiking, Smith said, “I’m really impressed with the variety of activities that they’re offering here. It’s kind of a one-stop-shop for fun.”
Speaking with the Friends of Prompton State Park, Smith said he’d like to volunteer. “That’s what it takes to get projects like this done, to get people involved. Even if it’s one time, what a difference that can make.... If everyone was willing to do that, it could be that much bigger.”
The Barnes family of Dalton traveled 45 minutes to share in the grand re-opening of the 1,700-acre state park. Laurel Barnes, mom Linda, and family friend Nancy Fleming of Lake Winola were all keen on snowshoeing. A smiling Laurel said she even managed to convince her dad, Lee, to strap on a pair and take them for a test walk.
“My dad did it. He’s going to be 62 next month. My dad doesn’t do strenuous outdoor activities like skiing or ice-skating like we do, and he liked them,” said the younger Barnes.
A snowshoeing enthusiast, Fleming said, “You want to see the future generation getting out there and getting exercise and being outside.”
Having fun with brightly colored plastic sleds, Lori Curtis and son Seth, 15, of Waymart, were whooping it up on the snowy slopes with friends Maria Fox and Lyn Thorpe, 12, of South Canaan. Thorpe says nothing beats the great outdoors, with its offer of hunting, fishing, sledding, camping, snow boarding, etc. Curtis, who grew up swimming at Prompton State Park when it was allowed years ago, said she now enjoys the extensive trails.
There are 23 miles of trails to be exact, says Friends of Prompton Vice President Tim Pender. Though swimming is no longer permitted, Pender said Prompton State Park’s attributes are unlimited. Pender and his young family, wife Lindsey and boys Owen, 4, and Keegan, 2, are always up for a hike. The two little boys have a lot of questions, and they’re eager to know where the cliffs are and the waterfalls. “Every single time you go up there, you’ll see something different, whether it’s the park or the animals, nature abounds,” he said.
Pender invited everyone to come see what Prompton State Park has to offer. “We’ve got some really nice geography and we’re just looking to share it with others.”