But farther south are more remote parts of the Laurel Highlands that are unique, scenic and ecologically significant.
I recently visited such a spot; a dramatic rock outcrop in Fayette County called White Rocks. One of the best trails to it crosses pristine brooks and meanders through a dense, mixed forest of tulip, birch, pitch pine and oak.
When you reach White Rocks, the landscape changes dramatically. The massive, 100-yard-long outcrop protrudes high over a valley, providing sweeping views of the forest. White Rocks is made of a hard sedimentary rock called Pottsville sandstone. It is home to rare species, such as the green salamander and the one-spotted tiger beetle, which shelter in the small crevices in the stone and surrounding forest.
In 2007, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy protected the 800-acre White Rocks property and transferred it to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry. It’s now part of Forbes State Forest.