White Rocks

In Fayette County
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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.

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.

Thomas Saunders

Thomas D. Saunders is president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the region’s exceptional places.

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