Nature

Bear Run

Bear run, the stream that inspired Fallingwater, flows under the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house. In dramatic cascades, it drops in gradient 30 feet to provide the iconic waterfall view that we all know.

Wolf Creek Narrows

Near Slippery Rock, 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh, lies one of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s landscape gems: Wolf Creek Narrows. The property affords a hike with streamside views and, at times, beautiful wildflowers. Wolf Creek, the property’s centerpiece, begins to the north at Pine Swamp, which the conservancy acquired and…

Our Endangered River

It’s a crisp November morning, some 25 years ago. Bob Ging and Don Gales are hunting on a ridge in Lower Turkeyfoot, Somerset County, where green hemlocks mingle with bare winter hardwoods. “Boy, this is beautiful,” says Ging as sunrise reveals the emerald waters of Laurel Hill Creek in the…

A Rhapsody in Blue

This summer, as Pittsburgh hosts World Environment Day and the world focuses on biodiversity, a small river 90 miles north of the city will do what it has always done. Quietly, its waters wind along a 117-​mile path from Chautauqua County, New York, into western Pennsylvania, where it joins the…

Protecting Cook Forest

Anthony Cook has a name that carries responsbility. He is the fifth generation of the Cook family — and the fourth named Anthony — involved in the creation and preservation of Cook Forest State Park.

The Ligonier Valley

Located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands, the Ligonier Valley rests between the northern stretches of Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Ridge. Its pastoral scenic beauty includes productive farmland, historic farmhouses, and fields and woods crossed by the Loyalhanna, Indian and Tubmill creeks.

The Coast of Lake Erie

Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie coastline is a place of beauty, drama and hidden environmental treasures. The bluffs and beach along this shoreline and the nearby forested ravines and gorges, seasonal pools and interior tributaries, make a special destination for anyone intent on exploring Western Pennsylvania’s most interesting natural areas.

Rocks of Ages

The Laurel Highlands. The very name hints of a special place. Its boundaries lie in the eye of the beholder, but most agree that the Highlands are east and south of Pittsburgh in Somerset, Fayette and Westmoreland counties. Thousands of skiers, hunters, hikers and rafters enjoy this unique geography, but…

Laurel Hill Creek

In Somerset County, the cold, clear waters of Laurel Hill Creek run through forests and farmland, state parks and backyards, joining the Casselman River and, just downstream, the Youghiogheny.

Fall Run Park

The verdancy of summer is best experienced in a narrow western Pennsylvania ravine. These places are particularly inviting after thundershowers wash the air crystal clear, polish the leaves to a glistening shine, and fill streams with roiling water.

Gone Fishing

At various times in a fisherman’s life, it becomes desirable to try a new spot. Perhaps an old place gets too crowded. Maybe the fish move on. Or maybe one simply wants a change of scenery. Of course, truly knowing a fishing spot means getting there early, before the fish…

The Origin of Spring

My benchmark for the onset of spring follows neither the facts of planetary motion, nor the predictions of a rodent. In my mind, spring starts when the daily average high temperature begins to increase after bottoming out in late January. By using this ruler, my favorite part of the year, spring,…

The River Starts Here

For the Allegheny River, a journey of 352 miles begins with a single drop of water. Emerging from a hillside in rural, wooded Potter County, in northern Pennsylvania, the trickle swells to a river that provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, 72 miles of navigable waterway for…

The Perfect Snow

I’m both amused and dismayed by media weatherspeak. I’m amused by the hyperbole of Storm Watcher Central and Severe Weather Tracker. You’ve seen the flashing alerts across the screen.

Crystal Clear Designs

Winter slows the primal routines of nature. Trees shed delicate, food-​factory leaves before they freeze. Forests subsist on sugar hived in roots protected from the cold by the consistently above-​freezing deep soils.
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