Busy summer? Try these short vacations

Mike Bleech Outdoors Columnist

Vacations are all about getting away, seeing new things, doing fun things, recharging the body’s batteries. Vacations should be considered essential to a healthy life. Walking a harmonious path through life may depend on it.

Vacations can be spiritual awakenings, or re-awakenings. A really great vacation clears the mind, making us more efficient in everything we do.

Do you find yourself making excuses for not going on vacation? Is the reason usually a lack of time?

Surely you have a weekend when you can sneak away. This is enough time for a nifty, short vacation. A three-day weekend is even better, although many places get crowded on official three-day weekends like the Memorial Day Weekend we just got through.

If you are the camping and canoeing sort, a float trip from Warren, or hereabouts, to Tionesta is a great way to spend a weekend. Camp overnight on one of the wilderness islands. Bring along fishing tackle because there is excellent fishing for smallmouth bass, walleye and muskie all through this stretch of the Allegheny River.

This is a good lesson in planning a short vacation. I can just about guarantee that thorough research will make the vacation better. Canoes can be rented in Warren. Check Allegheny National Forest headquarters in North Warren for maps and especially the brochure about the Allegheny Islands Wilderness. This brochure will detail the special regulations for using wilderness islands. Most regulations can be summarized as leave it as you found it. Most of the information you need can be found on the Allegheny National Forest web site, www.fs.usda.gov/main/allegheny/home .

Another excellent place for a floating-fishing-dipping toes in the water vacation is along the Clarion River in the area of Clear Creek State Park and Cook Forest State Park. This area has pretty good fishing for smallmouth bass and trout. Canoes can be rented at Cook Forest or in Ridgway. Get information by going to the Cook Forest State Park web site.

You can reach this web site, and the web sites for other state parks and state forests through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources web site, www.dcnr.pa.gov .

For more comfort and shelter, try a few days at a state park cabin. These are not available at all state parks. When you can find cabins where you want to go, and are able to secure reservations, this can be relatively inexpensive vacationing at very pleasant places. Pennsylvania state parks are noted for being very well managed, and staffed by helpful, friendly people.

Some of the nearer Pennsylvania state parks are at Pymatuning Lake. This is a large fishing lake. Maximum horsepower for boats is 20 hp. This helps to keep things slow paced. Cabins are very nice. Most are situated quite close to the water.

Pymatuning State Park cabins tend to be booked well in advance during the peaks of tourist season. This is one of the finest fishing lakes in the country. Currently it is loaded with fat walleye in the 19-inch to 23-inch class. It holds a very good number of large crappie, has very good muskie fishing, and it is loaded with channel catfish.

Cabins are rented through a private service that is linked through the state park web site, here and for the other state park cabins.

The most spectacular state park with rental cabins close enough for a short vacation is Letchworth State Park, in New York. This is the site of the ‘Grand Canyon of the East’, a long, straight-walled, 550 foot-deep canyon created by the Genessee River, and it holds much more than enough to keep you seeing new things for at least a couple of short vacations. We have on several occasions driven there for a one-day trip.

Letchworth State Park is highlighted by three majestic waterfalls. I suggest driving to the north entrance to the park, then driving south, upriver, through the park. This way the canyon becomes increasingly impressive. Stop at one of several picnic spots. Save some time to visit the museum which is on the main park road.

One last thought on this subject I want to share; I would like very much to hike the North Country National Scenic Trail through Allegany State Park and the Allegheny Nation al Forest.