Pennsylvania’s state game lands are something to behold. Want to see for yourself? Take one of the tours through game lands the Pennsylvania Game Commission is holding in October. The first tours of the season are scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 3. More tours are planned each Sunday through Oct. 24.
In all, nine tours are scheduled. The tours provide a good example of the opportunities available on game lands statewide, while showcasing how habitat work taking place on these tracts benefits wildlife.
All tours are free, held rain or shine and open only to vehicles licensed for travel on public roads.
Here’s the schedule:
Sunday, Oct. 3
- State Game Lands 290, Perry County, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain points of interest and answer questions during this guided walking tour around the game lands more commonly known as Haldeman Island. The tour will highlight habitat enhancements, nesting structures and a variety of hunting and trapping opportunities. The tour will showcase what Game Commission wildlife habitat crews, with help from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl and the Middle Susquehanna River Chapter have accomplished through a lot of hard work on this public tract of land and once-deserted island. One-mile and 2-mile travel routes are planned for this tour. All participants will be required to park in designated areas located along Island Road which is just off Routes 11 and 15. From there, those joining the tour will assemble at the mainland side of the bridge to await Game Commission personnel’s instructions. There is a very high tick and mosquito presence on the island so dress appropriately and bring proper footwear for walking.
- 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. 10
- 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, Pa. This driving 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 and 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 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 downhill 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. 17
- State Game Lands 108, Cambria County, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – This 7.5-mile, self-guided, one-way, driving tour and will highlight mountainous terrain and early fall foliage on the Allegheny Front. 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 harriers, hawks and short-eared owls also inhabit the study area. There are also several forestry projects to improve habitat for wildlife, and herbaceous openings that have been planted to provide food for wildlife along the tour route. Each tour participant will be provided a pamphlet with information about features along the tour route. 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. Pennsylvania Game Commission staff will be located along the tour route to highlight projects and to answer questions. The tour will be held rain or shine.
- State Game Lands 252, Lycoming and Union counties, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Game Commission personnel will be at the SGL 252 Habitat Crew Building at 2495 Alvira Road, Allenwood, to provide a map of the tour route along with a brochure highlighting the stops on this 9-mile route. The stops mostly consist of habitat improvements with a few historical sites from the town and U.S. Army Depot that existed there prior to the Game Commission acquiring the property. The stops include several managed water impoundments, managed dove fields, woodcock management areas, warm season grass and old field management areas and even an opportunity to visit one of the many TNT bunkers from the World War II era. All-wheel drive vehicles are recommended, as some areas can become muddy in wet weather.
- 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.
Sunday, Oct. 24
- State Game Lands 169, Cumberland County, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – This self-guided tour will be a combined driving and walking tour that will begin at the State Game Lands 169 habitat crew headquarters at 375 Bridgewater Road in Newville. Those participating in the tour will have the opportunity drive 3.5 miles and walk a half-mile to observe various types of habitat including wetlands, grasslands, and woodlands. The tour will highlight several projects in progress for American woodcock habitat, pine/oak Savanah restoration and native grasslands restoration. Questions can be directed to the Southcentral Regional Office at 814-643-1831.