Date:  Saturday February 25, 2017

Hike Times: 

History Hike with circa 1753 reenactors (30 minutes): 9:30 am, 10, 10:30, 11:30, Noon, 12:30 pm

Nature Walk with state park staff (45 minutes): 9 am, 11, 1 pm

North Country Trail Long Hike (7 miles): 9am


Jennings Environmental Education Center, 2951 Prospect Road, Slippery Rock 16057 (Junction of Pa Route 528 and Route 8.)



$2 donation requested at event. You MUST reserve your hike time by Feb 23. Log on to events.dcnr.pa.gov and search Cherry Pie”. This will get you to the events page for Jennings where you can reserve your hike and time.

Hike through history, stroll through nature, and enjoy some cherry pie (donated by North Country Brewing, in Slippery Rock) on Saturday, Feb. 25, in honor of George Washington’s birthday, and his journey through Western Pennsylvania.

It all happens at the Jennings Environmental Education Center, the Pennsylvania state park, at 2951 Prospect Road (Pa. 528) Slippery Rock 16057, just south of Pa. 8. Hikers will meet reenactors portraying Washington and his guide Christopher Gist, as well as Native Americans the two encountered. Echoing through woods that morning will be the reenactment of the gunshot that could have ended Washington's life when he was just 21. The annual commemoration is sponsored by the Butler Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, Washington’s Trail 1753, Historic Harmony, Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau, and Jennings Environmental Education Center.

Visitors can choose from several hikes and walks. To learn more about the history of Washington’s 1753 mission, hikers can sign up for a half-hour “History Hike” that includes the reenactment of the attempt on Washington’s life that happened on Dec. 27, 1753 near today’s Evans City.  Washington and Gist had spent the night of Dec. 26 camped in the snow somewhere close by the Jennings site. History hikes are scheduled for 9:30 am, 10, 10:30, 11:30, noon and 12:30 pm.

Nature lovers can learn more about the Jennings prairie and other park features by signing up for a 45-minute nature walk.  These are at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  

And for those who want more exercise, there is a 7-mile hike, led by members of the Butler Chapter of North Country Trail Association. It starts at 9 am, at the boat launch under the PA 528 bridge in Moraine State Park. Hikers will park their car at the boat launch and walk the North Country Trail to Jennings where they can enjoy Cherry Pie and refreshments. Hikers can choose to hike back to their cars, or can take a shuttle van back to the boat launch parking area.

While hiking on state park land is free, participants will be asked for a $2 donation to partake in the guided hikes and refreshments. Participants must reserve their hiking spot by February 23rd at the Jennings Environmental Education Center website. Go to: events.dcnr.pa.gov and search “Cherry Pie”. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. Exhibits and the reenactor encampment will be closed about 2 pm.

Even non-hikers will find fun things to do that day—interact with circa 1753 reenactors encamped near the main building at Jennings, meet noted history author Brady Crytzer, purchase books related to George Washington and his 1753 mission, and see and touch the equipment travelers and soldiers used to survive the harsh wilderness that was western Pennsylvania in 1753. There will also be information about the North Country National Scenic Trail, which passes through Butler County. It is 4,600 miles long between North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont, where it joins the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail.  

The day’s festivities honor the 285th birthday of the first president. But when he traveled through what is now Butler Country, he was just 21 years old.  He had volunteered to deliver an ultimatum from Virginia's lieutenant governor that French forces withdraw from British-claimed territory west of the Alleghenies. The French, building a line of forts south from Lake Erie, declined, demanding instead that the British stay out of New France. Washington’s adventure led within months to the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years War), and included two incidents that might have killed him decades before he would command Colonial forces against Britain in the Revolutionary War and become the new nation’s president.

The first incident was an errant shot from the musket of a Native American’s most likely sent by the French to end Washington’s trip back to Virginia. It is considered by many to be the first shot of the French and Indian War. Two days later Washington also survived a tumble from a rudimentary raft into the ice-choked Allegheny River, near what is now Washington’s Landing in Pittsburgh.

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