Nature

Riding the GAP Trail

Rob and Nikki Fleming came with friends from Tarpon Springs, Florida.  Tom and Carolyn Cassell made the trip from Tucson.  And Jeremy Cline travelled from Connecticut.  Each year, bicyclists come to Pittsburgh from across the country and beyond to ride the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).  Last year, that number reached 1.4 million, according to …

Riding the GAP Trail Read More »

Streaming Views

Surviving Summit Mountain

Snowbound residents of Pittsburgh’s hilly neighborhoods may not share this view, but part of the appeal of being a Western Pennsylvanian is that our natural geography still imposes influence on daily life. Not all regions enjoy, or endure, that dash of topographic spice, but it’s inescapable on my travels over and atop Summit Mountain, looming …

Surviving Summit Mountain Read More »

Enjoy Hiking the Improved Trails in the Laurel Highlands

People in Western Pennsylvania are fortunate to have the beautiful Laurel Highlands nearby as a destination for hiking, fishing, hunting, boating and all kinds of exploring. One of the many great places in the Laurel Highlands to escape and explore is Bear Run Nature Reserve, a 5,100-acre natural area owned and managed by the Western …

Enjoy Hiking the Improved Trails in the Laurel Highlands Read More »

Stewards of the Stream

Monty Murty casts a tiny fly — a Parachute Adams — from his bamboo rod to the surface of a stream in Linn Run State Park, instantly tempting a wild brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) to bite. He brings the feisty fish to hand, pausing to admire its vibrant, speckled skin before removing the barbless hook …

Stewards of the Stream Read More »

Exploring the Islands

One way to see Pennsylvania’s natural landscapes is to paddle a canoe or kayak down its rivers and streams. Many of our regional lakes, creeks and rivers provide scenic views, wildlife habitat and remote experiences along their forested banks. Quietly passing closely along a stream shoreline and depending on the time of year, paddlers may …

Exploring the Islands Read More »

The Perch

I have found a perch. It’s at the top of a rocky, rutted trail that shoots up a 70-degree angle from terra firma. Today’s destination: closer to the clouds. I have a book, The Genius of Birds, an old, wooden folding chair that functions as a plant stand in our living room, and a bottle …

The Perch Read More »

Making the Cut

I need to get the chains from our chainsaws resharpened, but there’s a line at Lloyd’s counter. June is standing in front of me, a gas-powered, STIHL MS 251 CB-E with the 20” bar in her hand. June is 80 years old. Thin as a rail. Her back curves like an S, she kinda leans …

Making the Cut Read More »

Pittsburgh’s Urban Forests

Pittsburgh is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world ­— a beautiful skyline, stunning geography, a city set at the confluence of two rivers that form a third. And this is reinforced by its being such a green city — a city of large parks and of wonderful green spaces …

Pittsburgh’s Urban Forests Read More »

Nettle: The Weed that Stings

What is a weed? A plant in the wrong place is a common definition, or as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “a plant whose virtues we haven’t yet discovered.” But nettles — weeds to most of us — have virtues long discovered. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary of eating very good nettle porridge. In Aesop’s …

Nettle: The Weed that Stings Read More »

A Little Slice of Heaven

My chainsaw is little. Like, really little. A baby chainsaw. The love child of gas-powered monsters that guys twice my size use to slice through the trunk of a 200-year pine as if it were a stick of butter. Those blades are as long as my leg. This blade, the one on my chainsaw, is …

A Little Slice of Heaven Read More »

Fuller Brook Dreams

I had seen the stream many times before, in my dreams. As someone averse to synthetic sleep aids, I’ve always relied instead on my mind to take me to one of my happy places: a rugged and undeveloped coastline with soaring seagulls and salty air; my grandmother’s kitchen table; a sweet stream flowing through the …

Fuller Brook Dreams Read More »

A Refuge for Wildlife-Watching

About an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh, Interstate 79 is the 120-acre Cussewago Bottom Conservation Area in Crawford County. The preserve provides an opportunity to explore forests, wetlands and wildlife near a tributary of French Creek. Cussewago originates from the Seneca Indian word meaning “big belly.” Cussewago Creek flows south from Erie County for 35 …

A Refuge for Wildlife-Watching Read More »

A Trashy Ordeal

Last year, I rode my bike on back roads near our farm. I prefer swimming, but our YMCA was closed, so I dusted off my 30-year-old red Cannondale and set out in a beautiful valley between two ridges of the Allegheny Mountains. My favorite ride was a seven-mile loop with steep hills and as I …

A Trashy Ordeal Read More »

The Glacial Landscape of French Creek’s West Branch

Prehistoric continental glaciers sculpted the broad valleys and rounded hills of the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. And much of this region — Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Lawrence counties — is within the watershed of French Creek, a major tributary of the Allegheny River. French Creek is known for its abundance of freshwater mussels and fish, …

The Glacial Landscape of French Creek’s West Branch Read More »

Pittsburgh’s Huge Flathead Catfish Rule the Rivers

Late one August night last year, Dusty Learn, an Indiana County farmer and factory worker, caught what is, perhaps, the most spectacular catfish Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers have been known to ever yield. Although not the VW Beetle-sized beast of urban legend, Learn’s flathead — nabbed on a piece of cut bluegill — might have beaten …

Pittsburgh’s Huge Flathead Catfish Rule the Rivers Read More »

A Short Raucous Party

At night, like us, they stop making noise. Tired, I suppose. All day long they scream for a mate among the millions nearby. They don’t have much time, a few weeks at most, to ensure their brood will arise again. Perhaps their screaming is about that particular problem, a coordinated audible insect protest about what …

A Short Raucous Party Read More »

The Blackberry: The Humblest Jewel

If you were tasked with designing a wild fruit to represent western Pennsylvania, you might come up with the blackberry. Its familiar, arcing canes spread over logged hillsides and reclaimed strip mines, beside railroad tracks and across abandoned farmland reverting to woods. Blackberries are an unplanned bonus from hard-used land. Such a luscious treat, blackberries …

The Blackberry: The Humblest Jewel Read More »

Visiting Western Pennsylvania’s Wild and Beautiful Ohiopyle State Park

About 80 minutes from Downtown Pittsburgh in Fayette County is the town of Ohiopyle and one of our area’s natural gems of rare habitats, dense forests, breathtaking scenic areas and whitewater for paddlers — Ohiopyle State Park. Over the past year, visitation to parks, nature reserves and forests has increased dramatically, as people have sought …

Visiting Western Pennsylvania’s Wild and Beautiful Ohiopyle State Park Read More »

My Vegetable Garden, in Springtime

“The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.” —Rudyard Kipling My favorite time in the vegetable garden is in spring, after the soil is tilled and before the seeds are planted. Perennials are poking up—chervil, lovage, sorrel—but otherwise there’s little growth, just a blank canvas. The weather is cool, less humid and with …

My Vegetable Garden, in Springtime Read More »

Celebrating Spring in Penns Creek Wild Area

People who have spent time around state College know the surrounding mountains hold countless opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. From winter hiking in the rocky ridgelines and snowshoeing around Bear Meadows Natural Area to spring fishing in Penns Creek’s and Fishing Creek’s famous trout waters, Centre County offers beautiful, remote landscapes in any season. One …

Celebrating Spring in Penns Creek Wild Area Read More »

Exploring the Appalachian Shale Barren

An interesting, out-of-the-way place to explore in western Pennsylvania is the Sideling Hill Creek area. The Sideling Hill Creek valley is located in southeastern Bedford County and southwestern Fulton County, about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Its watershed is framed by the sandstone-capped Town Hill mountain to the east, and Big Mountain to the west. …

Exploring the Appalachian Shale Barren Read More »

Top
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...
Responsive Menu
Add more content here...