The winter season is a time of peace and natural beauty throughout Berks County, Pennsylvania. In this part of the country, wilderness and cold weather adventure abounds.

When the temperatures begin to drop, the pristine tranquility of our local lands only gets better, transforming this corner of the map into a secluded winter wonderland.

Check out these suggestions to get outside – a little differently, and experience Berks County this winter season.

Go Winter Camping

Cold weather camping may not sound appealing, especially during the harsh winter months. But maybe that’s because you aren’t looking in the right places.

Berks County serves as the home of French Creek State Park, a 7,730-acre landmass of protected wilderness made up of forests, lakes, and wetlands.

Despite being the largest block of contiguous forest between New York City and Washington DC, French Creek offers reasonable access to a nearby urban area. It is located just under an hour’s drive from Philadelphia.

While only 47 campsites at French Creek State Park allow for wintertime camping, the accommodations available allow you to determine your level of comfort. Book a modern cabin with indoor plumbing, heat, electric, and room for 6, or take it down a notch in a camping cottage or yurt. The park is never crowded during the off-season, enabling you to experience nature while enjoying the peacefulness of winter.

Try Ice Fishing

Once you master winter camping, why not give ice fishing a try? You’re in the perfect place to get started. French Creek State Park provides two excellent locations for winter angling, Scotts Run Lake and Hopewell Lake. The lakes offer some of the region’s more picturesque sites, with the latter ranked as one of the top ice fishing spots in Pennsylvania.

By late January, the ice on the lakes can reach a thickness of twelve inches or more. Bear in mind, the park management does not monitor ice, so it’s incredibly important to test its thickness for maximum safety before venturing too far from shore. Additionally, you can check the French Creek Winter Report for occasional ice and snow condition notices before going out.

Additional ice fishing locations in Berks County include Antietam Lake, Blue Marsh Lake, Lake Ontelaunee, and Kaercher Creek Dam. No matter where you decide to cast your line, make safety your number one priority. Keep friends and family informed of your location, wear a lifejacket, and carry ice awls and a whistle in case help is needed. Visit Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission or Pennsylvania Fishes, for all the information you need about fishing, laws and regulations, licenses, tips, and safety guidelines.

Take a Mural Walk

Another great winter activity is the Mural Walk of West Reading. Over the years, this unique celebration of public art has grown into an extensive collection of over 30 artworks spanning three blocks which is accessible to the public.

To experience the West Reading Mural Walk to the fullest, start at the corner of Cherry Street and South Fourth Avenue, before heading west on Cherry Street towards Fifth Avenue.

Dean Rohrbach, the founder of the project (and the man for whom it is now named), once said, “Public art is important to a community. We like our public art to be serendipitously discovered as residents and visitors wander around West Reading. Public art adds vitality and liveliness to our community, and best of all, public art is freely accessible.”

This winter, don’t spend the season trapped in the walls of your home. Throughout Berks County, you can experience all the natural and man-made beauty that this part of Pennsylvania has to offer!