Stone soup & hiking boots

The morning air is crisp. Leaves are beginning to turn gold, orange and brilliant red. It is the perfect time to head out into the woods with family and friends for a fun autumn hike.

If a three-mile hike in the woods with awesome folks sounds good to you, the Leafpeeper Volksmarch is a free, guided trail outing for hikers of any age taking place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9.

The Leafpeeper Volksmarch is a free afternoon hike developed by the Running Revolution and made possible through partnerships with the Allegheny National Forest, Allegheny Outfitters and Straub Beer.

Hike registration will open at 12:30 p.m. (in the main parking lot at Tracy Ridge) and will remain open until the hike begins at 2 p.m. Participants will sign in and the first 200 hikers will receive a commemorative metal leaf ornament.

Hikers are asked to bring a can of vegetables to the hike to add to our simmering 25-gallon kettle of vegetable broth before the hike. Whether you call it stone soup, hobo soup or plain old vegetable soup, the contents of the combined cans will be cooked and ready for hikers to enjoy a hearty bowl at the conclusion of the hike.

Registration will be a campsite number 42 adjacent to the main parking lot. Allegheny Outfitters will be setting up tents, hammocks and tubby tubes, but feel free to bring your own outdoor seating. Allegheny Outfitters will also be supplying coloring pages for kids of all ages.

Straub Beer will be on hand so that participants over the age of 21 with valid ID may enjoy a cold autumnal brew before or after the hike.

The guided hike will start promptly at 2 p.m. from the Tracy Ridge trailhead. Tracy Ridge Campground offers 33-miles of trails and is situated in a mature oak stand on the top of a hill, surrounded by streams and rock formations.

The hike will cover three miles of relatively flat terrain with a few gentle inclines and declines. The trail has been cleared of obstacles other then some felled trees that are easily stepped over.

Nature is waiting and no reservations or fees are required. Just lace up your boots or sneakers, grab your water bottle and bring a can of vegetables to Tracy Ridge this Sunday to join in the fun.

Getting there:

Travelling on Route 59, turn onto Route 321 North. Proceed 10.5 miles on Route 321 North and then turn left at the brown and yellow Allegheny National Forest sign designated as Tracy Ridge Campground. In half of a mile you will arrive at the first parking lot near the Tracy Ridge trailhead. There will be yellow sandwich boards along the side of the road to guide you beginning on Route 59 before the turn onto Route 321. The sandwich boards will be printed with the word “VOLKSMARCH” and will have directional arrows.