Nature

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.

Opening Day, Minus One

Dunbar creek runs into the Youghiogheny River just north of South Connellsville in Fayette County. Vestiges of the interurban streetcar lines are all over. A massive stone arch that was once part of a bridge crossing the Dunbar Creek valley stands like an ancient Roman aqueduct by the coke oven…

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…

Taking full flight

Pittsburgh’s once-​endangered National Aviary wrapped up 2013 as the most successful year in its 60-​year history and capped a dramatic six-​year expansion. With record visitors and record numbers of new birds joining its collection (many living two to three times their life expectancy), the North Side institution has come a…

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.

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.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

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.

Bennett Branch Forest

About two and a half hours northeast of Pittsburgh, almost to Benezette, Pa., there is a deeply forested property called Bennett Branch Forest. The 1,500-acre tract is owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and nearly surrounded by Moshannon State Forest. A visitor can hike Bennett Branch Forest on old logging…

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

Many of us from Pittsburgh regularly visit the Laurel Highlands to ski, hunt or fish. But to really get a feel for the forests and streams of the Laurel Highlands, a long hike can be a way to see more and to get a better sense of this exceptional place.

Lost Turkey Trail

One of the more remote hiking trails in western Pennsylvania is the Lost Turkey Trail. The western end of this 26-​mile trail is in Gallitzin State Forest in northeastern Somerset County. The trail then passes into Bedford and Cambria counties across State Game Lands 26, and ends in Blue Knob…

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…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

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…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

The urban bear

State bear biologist Mark Ternent pulls an oversized syringe from an arsenal of gear at the back of his truck, loads it with a strong sedative, and affixes it to a dart with hot-​pink fletching.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Sideling Hill

One of the wonderful qualities of western Pennsylvania is that it offers out-​of-​the-​way locations with varied landscape and terrain.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

White Rocks

One of the region’s most beautiful and diverse outdoor destinations is the Laurel Highlands. When people think of visiting the Laurel Highlands, they often focus on some of the best-​known spots, such as Ohiopyle State Park, Fallingwater and Bear Run Nature Reserve, or the Ligonier Valley.
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