Despite the recent cold weather, there is plenty of time to get outside, enjoy the sun while it’s still here and soak in the beautiful colors. One of my favorite ways to do this is to find a trail close to me to spend the day on. Pennsylvania is graced with numerous state parks that are home to trails that anyone can tackle. I started getting out on the trails while I was in high school, but I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to hiking.
- Adam’s Falls Loop, Linn Run State Park
Adam’s Falls was one of the very first trails I hiked. The path itself is a loop and took about an hour to complete including all of the stops I made to take pictures. The trail goes past huge boulders and a waterfall. There are parts that get rocky, so use extra caution if you choose to hike this trail right after we get some rain, because these sections will be slippery.
Even though Adam’s Falls Loop is tucked in the mountains, the trail itself isn’t super steep. There are parts with a more challenging grade, but for the most part it makes for a nice, relaxing walk.
- Grove Run Trail, Linn Run State Park
Just down the road from the Adam’s Falls Loop is Grove Run Trail, a longer, more challenging trail. The last time I was at Linn Run and hiked this trail, I didn’t actually get to the end. It had just rained the day before, and my shoes barely had any tread on them, but if you go with proper equipment on a dry day, you should have no problem! Parts of the trail follow along with Grove Run and make for an excellent way to spend part of your day.
I was able to get through about two miles out of the total four before I had to turn around and walk back to the car. During my time on the trail, I saw loads of wildlife and various type of flora!
- Any trail at Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle State Park is home to around 79 miles of trails. There are a variety of difficulties, so no matter what skill level you’re at, you’ll be in for a treat. Even before you get to the trails, there is a waterfall and rapids near the welcome center for the park. There are other falls along different trails and opportunities for activities such as rafting and sliding down natural water slides.
A large portion of the trail length comes from Ohiopyle being part of the Great Allegheny Passage, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has a complete list of all the trails at Ohiopyle.
- Schenley Park
Schenley Park is extremely easy to get to if you’re in Oakland or the Pittsburgh region. The park has a lot more going on than just Phipps Conservatory, an ice rink and soccer fields. There are several trails that vary in terrain and difficulty. One of my personal favorite sights to check out is the Panther Hollow Lake, as you can see the Cathedral of Learning from there, plus the colors of the trees reflect on the water to frame an amazing scene.
- Beam Rocks Trail, Forbes State Forest
I haven’t personally hiked the Beam Rocks Trail. However, it’s at the top of my list. The trail itself is a little under a mile long, but the reward at the top is an out-of-this-world overlook of the mountains.
If you’re looking for a longer trail that Beam Rocks, check out the neighboring trails in Forbes State Forest. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has a list of maps for all of the trail systems in the forest.
Hiking isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. For me, it’s a great way to ground myself after a really difficult period of time. If you’re in southwestern Pennsylvania and want to get out in nature, you have so many options that are basically in your backyard. Make sure you bring plenty of water, bug spray, snacks and anything else that you may need to spend a day in the wilderness. Many of the places I’ve mentioned don’t get great cell service, so you’ll want to download whatever map you will be using or go old school with a paper map.