Nature

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.

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…

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…

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.

Sideling Hill

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

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.

Facing Extinction

Wildlife biologists Greg Turner and DeeAnn Reeder slip into the sort of coveralls you would expect to see on an infectious disease ward and enter the cold, musty confines of an old Fayette County mine.

Bring Back the Paddlefish

A century ago, as work neared completion on the region’s locks and dams and Pittsburgh was producing half of the nation’s steel, paddlefish disappeared from the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

Raccoon Creek

In 1960, newspaper columnist max henrici recounted his first visit, 20 years prior, to Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve: “It was a revelation. My eyes were opened to a multitude of interesting things… It is not too much to say that my life was revolutionized by this experience….”

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…
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