Hiking is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise, and connect with nature. Here are some tips and trails to help you plan your next adventure!
- Select a hike by considering the overall distance of the hike, and elevation change. Will the hike be relatively level, or will you be going up and down hills frequently?
- Always tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, and when they should expect to hear back from you that you have completed your hike.
- If you are a beginner, plan to hike earlier in the day so that you won’t end up in the dark if your hike takes longer than you anticipated.
- Check the weather for any storms.
- Wear supportive shoes with good tread.
- Start off hydrated and bring plenty of water to drink as you hike.
- Upon returning home check for ticks.
Fall Run Park features a beautiful waterfall hike less than 2 miles long located 94 acres along Route 8 in Shaler. I learned about this hike in the book Hiking Waterfalls in Pennsylvania: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes by Johnny Molloy. For a trail map click here.
Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve
Spring Hollow Trail passes through a variety of habitats including hardwood forest, a stream hollow, a pond, and even a meadow. Along the trail you can enjoy spending some time in the tree canopy at the Tree Top Overlook. This .45 mile trail is great for families, and if you want to extend your hike there are plenty other trails to explore. For a trail map click here.
Jennings Environmental Center is the only publicly protected prairie ecosystem in Pennsylvania. Sign up for their e-mail newsletter as they will send you updates on ‘What’s Blooming at Jennings.’ Plan a hike in late July/early August to see the Blazing Star. I prefer to take the Blazing Star Trail to the Prairie Loop Trail, and then to continue onto another loop trail to lengthen my hike. For a trail map click here.
Montour Woods Conservation Area is a 300-acre conservation area in Moon Township featuring over 10 miles of wooded trails. The main parking area/trailhead is located on Hassam Road, approximately 100 yards up the hill from the Montour Trail. By taking Meeks Run Trail to Powerline Trail to Honeydew Trail returning back to Meeks Run Trail you will have completed a 2 mile hike. There are so many trails to explore. For a trail map click here.
Todd Nature Reserve is a beautiful natural area featuring 6 miles of trails. I always plan my hike route so that I can visit the pond and the polypody rocks. Typically I will travel along the Red loop to Warbler to Red Loop to Pond to Red Loop to Polypody and back to the beginning on the Red Loop. Another beautiful trail to explore is the Ravine Trail along Watson’s Run. I learned about this hike in the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles – Pittsburgh Including Allegheny and Surrounding Counties by Donna L. Ruff. This book is an excellent resource for selecting a hike as it shows a visual representation of the elevation change of the trail. For a trail map click here.
McConnells Mill State Park encompasses 2,546 acres of the spectacular Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, a National Natural Landmark. The Kildoo Trail is a 3 mile loop that is considered a more challenging hike due to the rocky terrain. The trail begins at the area with the historic gristmill by the covered bridge on the eastern bank of the Slippery Rock Creek and leads to the Eckert Bridge where you cross the creek and return by continuing along the trail that follows upstream along the west bank back to the covered bridge. For a trail map click here.
McConnells Mill State Park also features Hells Hollow Trail which is a short .5 mile easy hike leading to Hells Hollow Falls. The main trail leading to the falls is level and smooth, but the steeper area by the waterfall can be slippery. This trail is especially beautiful in the Autumn. Near the waterfall you can also view the remnants of a lime kiln. For a trail map click here.
Latodami Nature Center located in North Park covers approximately 250 acres and includes a variety of habitats including forests, fields, wetlands, a pond, and streams. To enjoy the wide open views of the rolling meadow the North Trail is approximately .69 miles and starts with an uphill climb from the Nature Barn leading to an easy hike around the upper North Fields. For a trail map click here.
Raccoon Creek State Park Mineral Springs Loop is short 1.2 mile trail that passes through a historic area once known for the healing qualities of the mineral water. The remnants of the Frankfort Mineral Springs Resort of the 1800s are located above the springs. If you are willing to hike through the snow and ice during the winter you may be rewarded with a dramatic icescape! The trailhead is located off of Route 18 just South of the Rangers Station. For a trail map click here.
Raccoon Creek State Park Wildflower Reserve Jennings Trail is the longest trail in the reserve at just over 1.5 miles. Enjoy scenic views and spectacular wildflowers as you travel past the historic Hungerford Cabin, vernal pools, and the forested banks of Raccoon Creek. For a trail map click here.
Do you have a favorite local hike? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us on social media!
Written 5/6/20 by Linda