Nature

A Walk in the Woods

by Thomas Saunders
Cook Forest State Park, home to magnificent old-​growth forest, is a prime destination for anyone interested in scenic beauty, natural history and a variety of recreational opportunities.

A Belted Kingfisher

by Daryln Brewer Hoffstot
“From the porch at dusk I watched a kingfisher wild in flight he could only have made for joy…” —Wendell Barry (from his poem “Before Dark”)

A Waterway Renewed

by Thomas Saunders
A beautiful place to enjoy nature this spring is approximately two hours north of Pittsburgh along the banks of the Bennett Branch in Elk County. The Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area includes 24 acres of forested land, located off State Route 555 in Benezette Township, and provides direct…

Ode to an Ash

by Daryln Brewer Hoffstot
“When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder lions hunker down in tall grasses and even elephants lumber after safety…” —Maya Angelou

Old-​Growth Majesty

by Thomas Saunders
One of the most spectacular places to visit in western Pennsylvania is an old-​growth forest in the Hearts Content National Scenic Area within the Allegheny National Forest. A timber company gave the property to the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1920s, and today this area is home to one…

Erie Bluffs State Park

by Thomas Saunders
One of the most distinctive places to explore in Pennsylvania is Erie Bluffs State Park. Located west of the City of Erie, the park sits along more than a mile of lakefront near Lake City, west of the mouth of Elk Creek and north of PA Route 5.

The Best of Intentions

by Elizabeth Wiethorn
I just hope my mother doesn’t testify against me… if she does, I am in deep trouble.

The Clarion River

One of the best rivers in western Pennsylvania for paddling and nature watching is the Clarion River, starting about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. The Clarion River corridor between the towns of Ridgway and Clarion is remote, rich in public lands and hosts large expanses of uninterrupted forest.

Great Allegheny Passage

One of the most wonderful trail additions in western Pennsylvania has been the Great Allegheny Passage which runs 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md., where it joins the C&O Canal Towpath and continues to Washington, D.C.

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…

Nature’s Comeback

Every year, while spring was busy prying away the season from winter’s grasp, my family would make the trek down to Deep Creek, Maryland, to visit my grandparents’ cottage. The drive from our Long Island home was just over seven hours, which, to a kid with very little concept of…

Elk on the Alleghenies

Benezette, Pennsylvania is not a place you happen upon en route to somewhere else. There are easier ways across the Allegheny Plateau than to snake eastward in Elk County from Weedville along Rte. 555, with the Bennett Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek gnawing at the south berm while pine-​studded Allegheny crests…

Enlow Fork

by Thomas Saunders
Tucked away 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh is a stream called Enlow Fork, a tributary of Wheeling Creek, on the circuitous border of Washington and Greene counties. Enlow Fork flows nearly 20 miles east to west, before entering West Virginia’s northern panhandle to later join the Ohio River at Wheeling.

Jennings Environmental Education Center

Among the many delightful, ecologically interesting places to visit within a short distance from Pittsburgh is the Jennings Environmental Education Center. This gorgeous destination along Route 8 is about 12 miles north of Butler, across from the historic Old Stone House. It is a wonderful place for a quick hike…
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