Chilly Philly

Instead of submerging your hand in a Doritos bag and your mind on Court TV all day, throw on some warm layers and attack this winter head on. Philadelphia’s countryside is full of rolling hills

Instead of submerging your hand in a Doritos bag and your mind on Court TV all day, throw on some warm layers and attack this winter head on.

Philadelphia’s countryside is full of rolling hills for cross-country skiing, bird-watching and winter hiking enthusiasts.

Right here at Temple, the snowboarding
club has several winter getaway opportunities to offer students and its current members.

If you like to ice skate (or fall down a lot), Columbus Boulevard is where to do it. The Fairmount Park system runs winter activities and programs throughout the entire season. To say the least, there’s enough frosty fun in Philadelphia to make anyone shiver.

Start the heart-pumping action by taking
a hike with the Philadelphia Trail Club. The club hikes all over the countryside, including places like Ridley Creek State Park, French Creek State Park and the Wissahickon Valley to name a few.

To get involved and find out more about the PTC, check out its Web site for a hike schedule and contact information regarding each weekend’s particular hike leader.
In some cases, you’ll need to provide your own transportation to hiking locations.
If group excursions aren’t your thing and you like to spend some time alone wandering
through the hills of Southeastern Pennsylvania this winter, Ridley Creek State Park is a good day getaway. It’s only 16 miles away from the city.

“When there’s snow, cross country skiing
and sleigh-riding is popular,” said Roger McChesney, Ridley Creek Park Manger. “You could glide the open areas or use the multi-purpose trail and other hiking and walking trails to cross-country ski.”

McChesney noted that without snow, park visitors stick to other popular activities
such as bicycling, hiking and running throughout the various trails within the park.

The park itself contains nearly 2,606 acres and 12 total miles of hiking trails. If Ridley Creek sustains open water conditions during the colder months, the park offers yet another treat.

“Trout fishing is also available in the winter,” McChesney said. “Especially on Ridley Creek’s upper section.”

The creek is stocked with trout by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
According to McChesney, Ridley Creek is classified as ‘catch and release, fly-fishing only’ water from Sycamore Mills Dam downstream to the tributary of Dismal Run. Any trout caught in this area must be on a fly rod and released.

Horseback riding is also offered at the park through Hidden Valley Farms horse stables. Weather permitting, you can set up a horseback ride through the farm’s stables for $40 per person.

The ride itself winds through the hills and along the trails of the park. You can reach Hidden Valley Horse Farms at 610-892-7260 for more information on setting up a ride this winter.

If you like big mountain skiing and snowboarding, get involved with Temple’s snowboarding club. With 116 members, the club just visited Killington, Vt., this past weekend.

For the upcoming winter break, the club has scheduled a trip to Tremblant, Quebec, Canada from Jan. 7-12.

Andrew Mullen, the club’s president, said 134 people have already signed up for the excursion.

Mullen also noted some of the club’s more popular sponsors: Buckman’s Ski Shops, Snowboarder Magazine, Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Nocturnal Skate Shop and Banchi Outdoor Adventure.

For more information about joining the snowboarding club, e-mail Mullen at

Not into the snow? You can always try your hand on the ice at the Blue Cross River Rink located at Columbus Boulevard and Market Street near Penn’s Landing.

Throw in some karaoke, and all of a sudden, ice skating isn’t just about keeping your balance.

The River Rink’s hours of operation are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays. On the weekend, it’s open from 12:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays and from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $6 and skate rental is $3.

“Our admission is very affordable,” said Laurie Heinerichs, director of public relations for the Penn’s Landing Corporation8. “You can download a $1 off coupon from our Web site, and you can get an additional $2 off with a Campus Philly tag. There’s group discounts available as well.”

The ice rink has a live DJ on Friday night and karaoke on Saturday night.

For more information about the ice rink, visit their Web site at
If there are any avid bird-watchers out there or those who are interested in taking up a new hobby this winter, 2006 marks the 107th Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

It just so happens that the Pennypack Environmental Center, located at 8600A Verree Rd. in Northeast Philadelphia, will be one of many plces worldwide to host the event.

The birding rally is responsible for identifying as many different native and migratory bird species as possible, recording that information and then relaying it to researchers and scientists to use as data in their studies.

Last year there were nearly 48,000 participants in the Christmas Bird Count.

And 65 to 75 different species of birds were identified in the Philadelphia area near Pennypack Park, which is a part of the larger Fairmount Park system.

You can reach the Pennypack Environmental
Center via SEPTA using the route 67 bus. More information about the environmental
center can also be obtained at Fairmount Park’s Web site,

These cool opportunities just may keep you warm enough through winter break this year. If they don’t, by all means, plunge your hand back into those Doritos and turn Judge Joe Brown back on.

T.C. Mazar can be reach at

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