For those who need extra enticement to get outdoors, June 12 is Get Outdoors Day in Pennsylvania. An official celebration like that is helpful to people who aren’t typically outdoor oriented. It hints at how enjoyable an outdoor lifestyle can be, and it reminds of the outdoor pursuits that abound here.
We are fortunate to have a wide range of citizen organizations, businesses, and state agencies here that facilitate outdoor experience. If your family is looking for some outdoor activities, or to learn new outdoor skills, a few minutes of research online plus the resolve to “go for it” can open the outdoor world. Around here, you don’t have to do it alone.
The Mountain Watershed Association (MWA), based at Melcroft, offers a diverse selection of activities designed to help locals and visitors appreciate the outstanding ecological diversity of our mountain region, especially the Indian Creek basin. They conduct frequent bird-watching hikes and wildflower walks. An innovative new program is MWA’s Trail Tuesdays. Every Tuesday evening throughout the summer MWA staff will lead guests along a different segment of the beautiful Indian Creek Valley Trail. These gentle hikes last about an hour, and always begin at 6:30 pm. Those who have never heard the raw plunge of Indian Creek through its gorge between Rte. 381 at Mill Run and the Youghiogheny River will not be disappointed.
Mountain Watershed has invested years of volunteer effort to build the Indian Creek Valley Trail. It’s used primarily as a bicycle route, but the Tuesday evening programs are more of a leisurely stroll.
For more information about Trail Tuesdays, or any of MWA’s educational and recreational programs call 724-455-4200 or email Forrest@mtwatershed.com.
No region of Pennsylvania has a denser cluster of state parks than the Laurel Highlands of Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. Group activities were closed or restricted during the worst of the pandemic, but are opening again, with precautions and safeguards. The educational staffs at Ohiopyle and Laurel Hill state parks devise a creative menu to help visitors learn about our wildlife, waters and forests, as well as hone new skills in paddling, backpacking, camping or skiing to get out among these wonders.
You can go to the websites for these state parks to find out what’s being offered on upcoming dates. The easiest route to find events is to first visit the general Pennsylvania State Parks page at www.dcnr.pa.gov. Once there, you can select the state park you want to visit, then search its Calendar of Events. As an example of what’s offered, on Memorial Day weekend you could go to Laurel Hill State Park near Somerset for a free Fishing Skills program or a Birdwatching Basics hike. Registration is needed for all programs. Call Laurel Hill State Park at 814-352-8649. Laurel Hill also has a very appealing swimming beach along its mountain lake.
There will be a lot going on outdoors in Connellsville on Sunday, June 6. The General Braddock Fishing Club is sponsoring its annual Yough River Rally at the Yough River Park. Promoting fishing is the General Braddock group’s main objective, and they will have heavily stocked the river with trout. You can find more details on the General Braddock Fishing Club Facebook page.
Westmoreland County’s diverse and well maintained park system also helps people learn to enjoy fishing. They’re holding a free fishing derby at Twin Lakes Park near Greensburg on Father’s Day, June 20. The following week, also at Twin Lakes, will feature a Family Learn to Fish Day, June 27. Visit www.co.westmoreland.pa.us for more information.
Private businesses in the region also offer learning experiences outdoors. Wilderness Voyageurs Outfitters in Ohiopyle will conduct a Women’s Fly Fishing Clinic on June 10-11. The two-day workshop starts at the beginning fundaments, so no experience is necessary. Most participants are catching a beautiful trout from the Youghiogheny River or Meadow Run by the time the clinic is finished. Rods are provided for the session, but participants are advised to bring waders if they have them. There is a fee. Check out the Women’s Fly Fishing Clinic and all of Wilderness Voyageurs’ other outdoor opportunities at www.wilderness-voyageurs.com.
This is one of the best times of year to get outdoors. Learn a new skill, experience beautiful places, and meet new people. You’ll never know boredom again.