Each year, the Butler Chapter of the NCTA, along with NCTA affiliate Butler Outdoor Club, the Slippery Rock University Old Stone House, and the North Country Brewing Co. hold the Cherry Pie Hike on the Saturday closest to George Washington’s birthday (Feb. 22). A multi-faceted program, the event consists of a history presentation at the Old Stone House, a hike on the North Country Trail commemorating Washington’s 1753 journey through Western Pennsylvania, and a cherry pie reception paying homage to the legendary “George Washington and the Cherry Tree” story we’ve all heard since childhood. Hikers also have the option of joining the Butler Chapter for dinner at North Country Brewing after the hike.
Because of amplified promotion and communications efforts, this year’s Cherry Pie Hike, held on February 20, 2010, drew an incredible public response, with over 80 hike attendees calling to RSVP in the weeks before the event, and additional walk-in hikers on the day of the hike! Because of the large numbers, the Butler Chapter divided the group based on hiking preference, sending one-mile and two-mile hikers out on their hikes while long-hikers listened to their presentation at the Old Stone House.
Slippery Rock University history professor and Old Stone House curator Dr. Aaron Cowan gave a presentation, titled “Beyond the Cherry Tree: George Washington and Early Americans’ Complicated Relationship with Nature,” in which he entertained visitors with a dramatic reading of the tale of George Washington and the cherry tree and enlightened them about Washington and his contemporaries’ perspectives on “wilderness.”
Additionally, on this sunny day, with temperatures just below freezing and plenty of snow on the ground, this year’s Cherry Pie Hike provided a perfect opportunity for snowshoeing at neighboring Jennings Environmental Center. Here, hikers could try out snowshoeing and cross-country skiing free of charge thanks to the friendly and dedicated staff at Jennings.
Overall, the day was a tremendous success, providing diverse options that catered to novice and experienced hikers alike!