BMT, Ricketts Glen among spots to stay active outdoors


Maria DiBuo

The Back Mountain Trail, located at 97 Parry St., spans from Luzerne to Dallas, Pa.

Among activities COVID-19 has limited, exercise is no stranger. Due to the spread of the virus, gyms have closed their doors and reduced exercise options for many. 

While some facilities are beginning the process of re-opening, some patrons feel the risk of contracting the virus is still too high to hit the weights once again. 

Whatever the reason, the trend in exercising outdoors has increased as of late. There are many spots in the Wilkes-Barre area for outdoor exercise, including parks, community-funded trails and recreation areas. 

Luzerne County Levee Trail

The Luzerne County Levee Trail, affectionately known as “the dike” to many Wyoming Valley locals, is a paved 12-mile path that spans throughout Luzerne County and protects neighboring communities from flooding during periods of high-water in the Susquehanna River. 

The trail stretches through the communities of Wilkes-Barre, Hanover Township, Plymouth, Edwardsville, Kingston, Wyoming and Forty Fort. It is frequented by joggers, walkers and bikers. 

A portion of the trail lines the river, and provides relaxing scenery for any workout. There are also numerous access points for the trail, such as Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre. These access points also provide parking at no fee. 

For information on the Levee Trail, including access points, visit 

Back Mountain Trail System

The Back Mountain Trail System spans from Luzerne to Lower Demunds Road in Dallas, Pa. The location affords hikers, joggers and bikers with a location to safely see some of the scenic views in the Wyoming Valley. 

The trail system was originally a train-route for the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, and was restored by the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association in 1996. In 2009, two more miles were added onto the trail, making the system a hometown favorite for many locals. 

In Luzerne, the Back Mountain Trail System can be accessed at 97 Parry Street. More information on the Back Mountain Trail System can be found on the Back Mountain Trail’s Facebook page, or 

Francis E. Walter Dam 

A short 20-minute-drive from campus, the Francis E. Walter Dam is located just outside of Bear Creek, and provides the space for boating, picnicking, running and jogging. 

“One of my favorite places for outdoor recreation has always been the Francis E. Walter,” said Jake Peters, a 25-year-resident of the Wilkes-Barre area. 

The Lehigh River, which feeds the Francis E. Walter, is also another popular location for boating and fishing; however, it is a further distance from campus. 

Swimming is not permitted at Francis E. Walter Dam, and can be extremely dangerous. WRemember to use caution when visiting any area in the Wyoming Valley. For more information on the Francis E. Walter, visit

Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park is described as “one of the most scenic areas in Pennsylvania,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. A 35-minute-drive from campus, Ricketts Glen offers the perfect location for hiking, swimming, camping, boating and fishing. 

While much of the park was closed temporarily due to the pandemic, as of June 26, all areas are open, including the beach on Lake Jean. 

“Ricketts Glen has always been my favorite spot back home,” said Ky Rice, a Wyoming Valley native who recently moved away from the area. 

If you are eager to visit the park, driving directions, as well as maps of the area, are available at 

Visiting Procedures

Remember to use caution when visiting any area in the Wyoming Valley, especially in these “new-normal” times. Face masks, as well as social-distancing, are required for many recreation locations in the area, especially those that are state-funded. 

Familiarizing yourself with trails and packing essentials, as well as telling a friend where you are going, are also important tips suggested on many recreation-area websites. 

For Erin Tollinger, an earth and environmental science major at Wilkes, these tips ring true. 

“I would definitely say to be familiar with where you’re hiking,” explained Tollinger. “The trails in NEPA have a bunch of different paths you can go down, so it’s easy to get lost. I would definitely bring sunscreen and bug spray, too — those are two of the biggest things that bother me while hiking.”

Keeping them in mind can make all the difference while you are sweating off the stress this semester.