This is the time of year when lots of folks who just love the outdoors find they just love the indoors a little more. But at least three local clubs won't let the cold slow them down. The Audubon Naturalist Society, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and Wanderbirds Hiking Club all have active winter programs and welcome outsiders to join them for forays in the wild.
Last Sunday, for example, Wanderbirds left 17th and K Streets at 9 a.m. for a tour of Prince William Forest Park in nearby Virginia. They staged two hikes, one of six miles for novices and one of 12 for winter stomping veterans.
An hour and a half earlier and about three blocks away, PATCers and their guests left to climb Old Rage Mountain in Virginia on a seven-mile circuit hike that the club calls "moderate."
The cost of each of these trips was around $5 for nonmembers. The Auduboners had nothing slated Sunday, probably because many were recuperating from the free trip they ran the day before at the National Arboretum.
If you missed last weekend's offerings but are interested, here are some trips the clubs have scheduled this weekend and in the near future, and information on how to get complete schedules.
WANDERBIRDS HIKING CLUB
Jan. 15: Corbin/Thorofare Mountains, Shenandoah National Park. Chartered bus leaves 17th and K at 8 a.m. Hikers follow banks of Hughes River to secluded Corbin Cabin for lunch. Those picking the long hike press on to the summit of Thorofare Mountain. Long hike is about 10 miles, short hike about seven. Fee is $5.50 for nonmembers, $5 for members. For information contact Ted Tidwell (256-5071) or Irmgard Wagener (820-6344).
Jan. 22: Beahm's Gap, Fork Mountain, Piney Ridge and Butterwood Branch, Shenandoah National Park. Bus leaves 17th and K at 8 a.m. Two hikes, one six miles and one eight, the longer including the peaks of Fork Mountain. Cost, $5.50 or $5. Trail leaders are John Anderson (820-2514) and Elinor Ridley (942-5540).
Wanderbirds have other hikes slated through March. For complete membership information and schedules write to Alice Ruddiman, public relations director, 5511 Cornish Rd., Bethesda 20014.
POTOMAC APPALACHIAN TRAIL CLUB
Jan. 14 or 14-15: Trail work-hike, George Washington National Forest. Participants will help trim limbs and clear brush on scenic national forest trails, including Mill Mountain, Lookout and Massanutten Trails. Departure is at 7 a.m. from 1718 N St. or at 7:30 from Mapel Avenue Shopping Center in Vienne. Cost is $2 a person, plus a share for cabin meals. Overnighters get to stay in PATC cabins. Call 530-5452 for details.
Jan. 15: Hike up the Big Blue Trail in Virginia. A seven-mile trek along the ridge of North Mountain to Cedar Creek. Reservations through hike leader Carol Niedrislek (525-4109). Cost is $5 for members, $5.50 nonmembers.
Jan. 21 or 21-22: Trail contruction hike on the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park. Participants may stay overnight in Doyle River Cabin and help relocate sections of the trail. Cost is $2 plus share of meals, departure same as Jan. 14 trip. Details, 521-6329.
PATC has other hikes and work trips slated through February, including some as close as Rock Creek Park. For Complete schedules and membership information write or visit the club at 1718 N St. N.W. or phone 639-5306.
AUDOBON NATURALIST SOCIETY
Jan. 14: A half-day trip to Hughes Hollow, Md., 45 minutes from Washington for a look at winter songbirds of the fields, woods and inland marshes, as well as some water birds along the Potomac. Departure at 7:45 a.m. from Peoples Drugs, Wisconsin and Western Avenues NW. No charge. Contact leader Ray Prybis (529-5244).
Jan. 21: Cave trip to Massanutten Caverns, Harrisburg, Va. Cavers will meet at 7:45 a.m. at Gallows Road and Route 50 in Virginia for a trip to a "small, interesting cave" at the southern end of the Massanutten. The owner of the cave will lead the two-hour walk, and there is a limit of 15 people. Costs $2.50 for adults, $1.25 for children under 12. Sherry Wood (229-5182) is trip leader.
Jan. 21: St. George's Island and Point Lockout, Md. An all-day bird trip for winter waterfowl and other water birds. Birders meet at 8 a.m. at People's Drug Store in Waldorf, Md., shopping center, Route 5. Leader is Harvey Mudd (530-7322). Reservations necessary.
The Audubon Naturalist Society has other hikes, bird census previews and bird-watching trips scheduled through March. For complete information on trips and membership write to or visit the society headquarters at 8940 Jones Mill Road, 20015.
You don't have to get fat this winter.