10 Ways to Make the Most of an Erie Winter

not everyone hates winter.

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

To date, Erie has received 108.5 inches of the white stuff this winter and our fair frozen city stands atop the snowfall derby race with a commanding 13 inch lead over Buffalo. (WE are the champions, my friends….)

Suffice to say this is a tough place to live if you hate winter.

Look, I get it. It’s cold. It’s wet. You have to drive slower. You break your credit cards scraping the ice off your windshield (Whaa? Is it just me that can’t hang onto an ice scraper/snow brush?). Blah, blah, blah.

But, here’s how I—a reformed winter-hater— see it:  You can sit around inside your room for months, grumbling, whining about the weather and trading germs with one another while you wait for the Earth to turn, or you can find ways to have fun and learn to love winter.

Trust me, if I could learn to embrace the winter season, you can, too.

Here are eight ways to get started:

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1. Go sled riding. Behrend offers no shortage of hills to choose from. You could try the big hill behind the Otto Behrend science building (Years ago students skied on this hill. There are still remnants of the tow rope pulley system up there). It’s aweseome. If you’re not up for climbing the monster hill, try the shorter and less steep (but no less fun!) hill from Niagara Hall to Kochel Center. No sled? No problem! Stop by the RUB desk and sign one out. Or, you can buy one at Valu Home Center on Buffalo Road for less than $10.

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2. Walk on water. Presque Isle Bay (at the foot of State Street) currently has a layer of 8 to 12 inches of solid ice. Drive down to the bayfront and take this rare chance to hike across the bay. It’s about a two-mile walk (four miles round trip) If you start behind the Bayfront Convention Center (lots of parking, easy access to the water) and walk over to Presque Isle State Park’s Cookhouse area.

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3. Hit the links, er…lake. Love to golf? Gather up your friends and form a team for the Frostbite Open on February 16 and play 9 holes of golf on the frozen bay (now that’s something that none of your golfing buddies have ever done!).

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4. Take a hike. There is nothing more peaceful than walking through Wintergreen gorge after a fresh snowfall. You’ll be surprised at how different things look in winter and the complete silence (no birds singing or insects buzzing) is serene. Dress warmly and wear winter boots – the trails aren’t plowed, of course. Enter the main trail in the lower right hand corner of the parking lot to the right of the Witkowski Building.

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5. Go snow tubing. Hate lugging your sled back uphill after each run? Then, tubing is for you. You just sit your rump on the tube and hitch a ride to the top on the resort’s pulley system. It’s all “weee” and no “ugh.” Both Peek ‘n Peak Ski Resort, in nearby Clymer, N.Y., and Mount Pleasant of Edinboro, offer tubing for about $10 an hour. (Tubing passes are BOGO on Mondays & Thursdays the Peak!)

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6.  Spread winter cheer. Build a snowman. Or build an army of 100 tiny snowmen outside of your residence hall to amuse everyone else on campus. Give those outdoor seating areas outside of Bruno’s and/or Burke some life and build a snow family having a winter picnic.

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7. Pretend you’re Big Foot. Snowshoes will really let you get off-trail and explore in winter. You can rent snowshoes at all of the following place (which also offer trails on which to use them): Asbury Woods Nature Center, Presque Isle Ski Center (Cabin No. 2 near the Waterworks area at Presque Isle State Park) and Wilderness Lodge. If you check their websites, you’ll see that all three of these places offer group classes/lessons, too, but…you don’t really need a lesson to snowshoe…unless you haven’t figured out the walking thing. ;)

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8. Document it. Winter offers dramatic lighting for nature photography. Grab your camera (OK, fine, your phone will do)  and look for the exquisite beauty that this season offers. Post your photos to Instagram with #behrend so we can see and share them, too.

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9. Brag about it. When all your friends in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia or Washington D.C. whine about the three inches of fresh powder they got overnight or the black ice that shut down their campus, send them the photo above of the patio outside the cafe at the Burke Building and tell them to shut it because, clearly, you win this one.

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10. Hit the pool. Had enough of the cold? Take advantage of open swim times at the Junker Center pool and pretend it is late August when we’ll all be complaining about how hot and humid it is.

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