UNION DALE– The snow has melted and Spring’s sunny days have finally arrived. And to help dispense any remnants of cabin fever, the Rail-Trail Council (R-TC) of Northeast PA has coordinated some of the season’s first warm-weather events.

“Spending the day outdoors is so much fun,” said Carissa Butler, R-TC’s Program Director. “So to kickstart some of our seasonal events, on May 26th Tiffany Debish will be back with us to share her unique mix of Yoga and hiking along the local rail trails. Tiffany runs her Studio Be Yoga in Forest City and help us with some of our recurring trail events.

“On Saturday May 26th, Debbie will take hikers to the Stillwater Cliffs,” said Butler. “The surrounding views from the cliffs are really magnificent. From the summit, we can view the Stillwater Dam, the surrounding valley area, and it’s fun to spot various wildlife along the way. We’ll meet at 10:00am at the yellow gate on the O&W Trailhead on St. Rt. 171 just north of Forest City.

"There, Tiffany will start us off with a few basic Yoga exercises. Further along we’ll all stop for another Yoga workout where she’ll teach us some more Yoga postures and exercises. Overall, this hike will run for about 2-1/2 hours. It’s a comfortable medium-level hike suitable for all ages, and the combination with Yoga is really fun and enjoyable for everyone.”


As Debish added, she teaches “from a posture and alignment base, and the benefits of Yoga also aid in oxygenating the blood and increasing overall body flexibility. Yoga is great for all ages and being outside amid Nature is one of my favorite places to practice Yoga movements and exercises.” While the hike is free of charge to all participants, R-TC requests a $5/per-person donation to cover the Yoga instruction.

Gathering at 8:30am on Saturday June 2nd at the R-TC office at 948 N. Main Street in Union Dale, participants will join Nancy Wottrich for a Birds on the Trail hike from the local trailhead.

“This easy hike is another enjoyable event because Nancy helps participants see, hear, identify, and learn about many of the area’s birds.” Having spent her career working in environmental education centers, leading countless classes in botany, birds, and general Nature, Wottrich enjoys teaching those who are anxious to learn about the outdoors.

“This event is an easy birding walk that can be fun for all ages,” said Wottrich, “and it will be especially geared to beginners who are just getting into learning about birds. I’ll focus on the birds that are more common to our area and will help participants identify them by both sight and song.”

Through bird guidebooks and the judicious use of electronic bird guides, Wottrich is able to bring birds closer to those observing them so they can better see their many shapes, sizes, and colors and hear their varying melodious songs.

Wottrich is also an interpretive naturalist with the Montrose Area Adult School’s Spring and Fall programs and frequently leads wildflower and bird walks along with winter discovery walks.

Three weeks later, on Saturday June 23rd, participants will meet R-TC at 9:00am at the Simpson Trailhead on Homestead Street for a morning Hike to Panther’s Bluff. “This is one of our longer outings,” said Butler.

“It will last about 3 hours or so, depending on our guide’s presentation. And while it’s a relatively moderate-level hike, it does include a somewhat steeper climb on a rocky path to the top of Panther’s Bluff. But this is well worth the effort!

“Naturalist Jane Fry will lead this very beautiful and educational hike,” Butler continued. “Jane is an expert on hiking, plant and tree identification, and she has lead and knows this particular area very well.”

As Butler explained, Panther’s Creek crosses under the rails-trail just north of Mile Post No. 1.

“The mountain to the east is part of the Wildlands Conservancy’s 1500-acre property and site of the state’s first Native Plant Sanctuary. We’ll leave the trail at this point to start our hike to Panther’s Bluff. Along the way, we’ll see remnants of the D&GH Gravity Railroad and Shepherd’s Crook, a late 19th Century open-air rail car tourist attraction, and the path is lined with native rhododendron and many varieties of wildflowers. One of the most interesting aspects of this hike is that Panther’s Bluff Stream flows down through picturesque waterfalls and pools. This really is an especially enjoyable hike.”

While these events are widely open to men, women, and children of all ages, only the June 2nd Birds on the Trail hike is limited to 20 persons and requires an RSVP by May 25th.

Hikers are reminded to dress appropriately, depending on the weather. All hikers should bring water, a snack, bug spray, sun protection, and their own binoculars and camera. For additional information, like R-TC on fb.com/railtrailnepa, contact them at trails@nep.net, or call the office at 570-679-9300.