One of the more forgotten outdoor recreation activities is disc golf. This is not because nobody enjoys it, because it is growing in popularity every year. The sport has grown up from the days when I was in high school learning about Frisbee golf. Moreover, the growth is evident with the number of tournaments and courses popping up.
The opportunities for disc golfing in the Johnstown area have grown over the past five years. Where there were only two or three disc golf courses in the area five years ago, there are now at least six courses throughout the parks in the Johnstown area of the Alleghenies. Of the nine courses in the Johnstown area, all but three are nine-hole courses. The three eighteen-hole courses are private courses that have a fee to play.
Part of the increase in the number of courses is due to additional courses which were constructed in three local Pennsylvania State Parks within about an hour of Johnstown. Each of these courses were originally designed as nine-hole courses in an effort to support the Get Outdoors PA initiative through Pennsylvania DCNR. Prince Gallitzin and Shawnee State Parks completed their courses in 2009 and Canoe Creek completed their course in 2011. Now the disc golfers can rejoice some more.
On January 28, 2013, Prince Gallitzin received final approval on plans to expand their course to eighteen holes. Most of the new holes will be added on to the end of the course, while a couple will be integrated into the current course. The current course which was originally established in 2008 with funds from the parks regional office utilized by picnic areas and trails with a few holes being set along an abandoned power line right-of way. Most of the current course is located between Muskrat Beach 2 and 3. The expansion will include the Muskrat Beach area 1.
The current process requires approval from DCNR in Harrisburg. In recent years DCNR has also started requiring an environmental risk assessment. This ensures that any course s added to a park avoids environmentally sensitive areas. While this protects the natural resources in the park, it has added additional time to getting projects like the disc golf course started. Construction will begin when possible with no final date released at this time. While park maintenance staff maintains the course, the park will also receive support in keeping the course clean and clear from the Blair Bedford Cambria Disc Golf Organization whose president designed the course at Prince Gallitzin.
The disc golf course at Prince Gallitzin is open year round and play is free. It is a great way to get out and enjoy nature while getting some exercise and having fun. Check back for updates as work proceeds on the course.