by James Leonard | Staff Writer

SCRANTON – The University of Scranton resumed in-person instruction Wednesday following two weeks of remote classes. For students stretching their legs and leaving their dorms for the first time in a long time, Pennsylvania parks may provide some relief.

1. Nay Aug Park

The most well-known park in the Scranton area according to students, Nay Aug Park hosts more activities than meets the eye. Visitors can walk scenic trails that vary from paved walkways to more rustic, dirt hiking trails that run along the Gorge.

University student Ted Nelson often runs through park trails and explores off-trail locations with his friends.

“It’s a really nice park to walk through. Whether you got on predetermined trails or go off the beaten path through the woods or the rocks along the river, it’s always a great time. I don’t think my college experience would be the same without it,” Nelson said.

The park, located at 1901 Mulberry St., offers several overlooks to view the gorge from various angles, from the Wenzel Treehouse to the Kanjorski Bridge. The Everhart Museum, located within the park grounds, offers visitors a chance to view historical artifacts and artworks from Northeastern Pennsylvania and across the United States.

2. Lake Scranton

Offering over four miles of walking, biking and running paths, Lake Scranton is a near-by place to enjoy a fall afternoon of scenic views.

University student Peter Sims is an avid hiker and frequently visits the park to walk its trails.

“It’s a great trail to stroll through and it has a ton of picturesque spots along the path. I visit here often with my friends to go on strolls and it’s a great running trail as well,” Sims said.

The park is open from dawn until dusk and is located at 125 Scranton-Pocono Hwy. The park also strongly advises against veering off of the designated walking paths to protect the delicate ecosystems within the park.

3. Lackawanna State Park

Covering almost 1,500 acres, Lackawanna State Park offers a plethora of outdoor activities that cater to all demographics.

Peter Sims has only good things to say about parks in the Scranton area.

“Lackawanna State Park is very woodsy and features a lot of trails that take you deep into these gorgeous forests. If you’re like me and enjoy hiking I would check out this beautiful place,” Sims said.

The park offers swimming, fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, kayaking and more. Campsites can be booked directly on the park’s website.

According to the park’s website, social distancing guidelines are being enforced and a mask is required to enter all park buildings.

“Wear a mask, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly, avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose, cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow. If you are sick, stay home,” the website says.

4. McDade Park

McDade Park offers visitors a variety of short paved and non-paved walking paths. Where the park lacks in long paths, it makes up for in its view of the Scranton skyline accompanied by a scenic backdrop of mountains behind. Visitors may enjoy a fall picnic or even play a pickup basketball game at one of the four courts.

The park, located at 1 Bald Mountain Road, also hosts the historical Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour which allows visitors to gain insight on the life of a Scranton miner. A sweatshirt is strongly recommended. Protective head and mouth gear are included in the $10 admission fee.

The tour goes 300 feet below ground. It is open annually from April 1 through November 30.

5. Historic Scranton Iron Furnaces

As a part of Scranton’s Anthracite Museum, the Historic Scranton Iron Furnaces stand as a reminder of what was once the primary industry of the area.

The furnaces were used to melt iron from the mid-19th century until the turn of the 20th century. It is a part of the Anthracite Museum project, which is a nonprofit organization that aims to educate visitors and residents about the long-lasting impact the coal and raw material industry has on Scranton and the surrounding area.

It also provides opportunities for sitting down and having a picnic alongside the Roaring Brook.

The park is at 159 Cedar Ave. across from the ammunition plant.