New Castle News

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December 5, 2013

Hikes to benefit park hemlocks

NEW CASTLE — Two winter hikes are planned for this month at McConnell’s Mill State Park.

The first of the Hemlock Hikes will be Saturday. The second is planned for Dec. 14. Both will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hemlock Hikes are a series of hikes designed to provide support to McConnell’s Mill State Park to suppress an impending threat to the hemlock trees.

Visitors will be joined by park staff and local hiking club members from the North Country Trail Association to explore a trail in the Slippery Rock Gorge to observe hemlock stands.

Pennsylvania’s state tree, the Eastern Hemlock, is threatened by an invasive pest, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Those taking part in the hike will learn about it and what everyone can all do to help.

Participants should meet at the old gristmill, dressed for the weather and carrying food and water.

Parking is at the Kildoo Picnic Area, which is a 10-minute hike to from the mill.

Anyone who does not care to hike can go to the gristmill for a 20-minute information session.

Park staff will use information from hikers’ efforts to help suppress this pest and save hemlock trees.

Because the rocks are slippery enough without snow or ice, the hikes will take place only during good weather, meaning dry roads and trails.

Participants can check Facebook at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/mcconnellsmill/index.htm or call (724) 368-3612 between 8 and 10 a.m. the morning of a hike to be sure.

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