These two parks, located about an hour north of Pittsburgh, are essentially neighbors, but they are completely different experiences. McConnell’s Mill is a rather quiet place, with a playground and a few trails, as well as the mill itself, of course; although the park proper is far larger than it might initially seem, most of its activity is concentrated in one tiny space. Moraine State Park, on the other hand, is a sprawling, expansive park with two distinct sections; in fact, each half (a northern area and a southern portion) could be considered a separate park in its own right.… Read the rest
Prince Gallitzin State Park, located in Cambria County, is not the easiest state park to access, which lends it a remote charm. That said, when I visited last summer, the campground was rather crowded (though not overwhelmingly so), all of the best parking spots in the fishing areas were taken, and the lake was populated with a healthy number of boaters, so it’s no ghost town during the peak season.
Returning to the park more recently, in the off-season, the situation was rather different; boaters were now the exception, and aside from the marina, most of the parking lots were… Read the rest
Ok, Erie is hardly the most obscure selection for a day or weekend trip from Pittsburgh, but it deserves a mention here, if only as a reminder, because Presque Isle State Park is simply one of Pennsylvania’s most enjoyable state parks and one of the best ways to spend a Saturday off.
One of the factors that paradoxically makes Presque Isle so magnetic is its proximity to the industrialized downtown Erie; driving to Presque Isle necessitates navigating a series of unattractive highways and strip malls, and so arriving at the park itself makes its natural charm that much more evident… Read the rest
The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania has its headquarters at Beechwood Farms, off of Dorseyville Road. Beechwood Farms is probably best known for its annual Apple Jam, which usually occurs in September. The Apple Jam is basically a fall festival geared towards kids, with all the usual activities; face painting, hay rides, etc. Although I haven’t attended in recent years, I have fond memories of the Apple Jam from when I was very young, and if the intense traffic in the area during each year’s Apple Jam is any indication, the quality has not suffered since then.… Read the rest
The trails themselves might be officially dubbed “Xen’s Trail,” “Upper Trail,” and “Falls Trail,” but locals refer to the collective nature area off of Squaw Run Road as “Trillium Trail,” and indeed, maps recently posted at the site are headed with the moniker “Trillium Trail.” There are two parking lots available; both provide access to the ends of Xen’s Trail, so neither lot is inherently preferable; it all depends on how crowded they are (and apart from, say, the first few days of warm weather in March, the lots are rarely so crowded as to preclude finding a spot).
Xen’s… Read the rest