Pittsburgh Quarterly Contributors
Thomas Saunders

Thomas Saunders

Thomas D. Saunders is president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the region’s exceptional places.

Helen B. Katz Natural Area

Although colder temperatures and snow are upon us, there are still many things to do and places to see in our beautiful western Pennsylvania landscape. One is the 284-​acre Helen B. Katz Natural Area near Meadville in Crawford County.

The Miller Esker

About 23,000 years ago, a massive sheet of ice, likely a mile high, extended down from the Arctic. It travelled as far south as present-​day Moraine State Park in Butler County before melting and shrinking back to the north. It left behind a rare and subtle geological formation known as an esker.

Dutch Hill Forest

One of the many beautiful areas in western Pennsylvania for hiking or paddling is the Clarion River. Designated a wild and scenic river, the middle Clarion runs along the southern boundary of the Allegheny National Forest and is bordered by many other protected lands — state park land, state forest, game lands and privately conserved…

McConnells Mill State Park

In southwestern PA, it is a challenge to find remote and scenic hikes. But one is only about an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh, just off of Rt. 422 in eastern Lawrence County, in McConnells Mill State Park.

French Creek Watershed

When we in Pittsburgh look out on the Allegheny River, it can remind us that the water flowing past has its origins in some faraway places worth visiting and exploring. One of these is the broad valley of the west branch of French Creek in Erie County.

Exploring the Fort Necessity area

One of the most interesting historical sites in the Laurel Highlands is the Fort Necessity National Battlefield. And a new destination for hiking and exploring in the region is a property currently owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and about to be added to Forbes State Forest, adjacent to the national battlefield property.

Oil Creek State Park

Western Pennsylvania has an abundance of extraordinary places to hike. A few of these, such as Oil Creek State Park in northern Venango County, provide substantial regional history along with a scenic landscape.

Elk Creek in Erie County

Unusual and beautiful places lie just off the beaten path in Erie County — sites that even those who frequently travel to Pennsylvania’s northwesternmost county may not know.

Hardwood Trails, Bedford County

One of my favorite places to hike and explore is a property not far to the east of the Laurel Highlands. Driving east along the Pennsylvania Turnpike just past Somerset takes you across the eastern continental divide into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where the Laurel Highlands give way to the Ridge and Valley…

Quebec Run Wild Area, Fayette County

One of the nicest hikes in western Pennsylvania is the Quebec Run portion of Forbes State Forest. Quebec Run is located in the southern Laurel Highlands on the eastern flank of Chestnut Ridge, in Fayette County, and is a property with beautiful streamside trails, rhododendron thickets, sandstone outcrops, eastern hemlock groves, and a…
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