The Laurel Highlands is one of the most scenic and diverse destinations in Pennsylvania. Its unique typography and natural resources of mountains and rivers, offers a wide range of active outdoor experiences for visitors year round. Thousands of acres of state and federal park land throughout the region are open for hiking, biking, water recreation and wildlife viewing. Incredible vistas open over white water and quiet pools as the parks are crisscrossed with hundreds of streams and tributaries.
One of the region’s significant National Park Service sites is the Flight 93 National Memorial which is now open year round to the public. A short distance away is another iconic site commemorating the Quecreek Mine Rescue Site, celebrating the successful rescue of none trapped miners, an event that captured the attention of the world a decade ago.
Those interested in active outdoor adventures should not miss the following experiences while in the Laurel Highlands:
Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob
The Laurel Highlands actually provides the setting for two outstanding examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture: Fallingwater in Bear Run Nature Preserve and the nearby Kentuck Knob. Fallingwater, Wright’s most widely acclaimed work, dramatically cantilevered over the waterfalls, is considered to be the best all-time work of American architecture and is his most sublime integration of man and nature. The house on Kentuck Knob exhibits the extraordinary warmth, serenity and functionality of a home Wright designed for family living, Enhanced by a breathtaking vista, its wooded landscape is the setting for the notable collection of artifacts and post- World War II sculptures of owner, British Lord Peter Palumbo. These famous architectural icons are open to the public throughout most of the year but reservations are essential.
Bear Run Nature Preserve
Bear Run Nature Reserve‘s 5,851 acres makes it the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s largest property. With more than 20 miles of well-marked trails, the reserve is managed to protect, conserve, and restore land and water for the diversity of the region’s native plants, animals, and their ecosystems. Streams and watersheds, forests, and common as well as rare native species are the focus of management.
The Great Allegheny Passage
The Great Allegheny Passage is a world-class rail-trail stretching from near Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD. Historic tunnels, bridges and viaducts carry cyclists and hikers on a nearly level scenic trip over and through the Allegheny Mountains. The trail follows the Youghiogheny and Casselman rivers for much of the way. In Cumberland, it connects with the C&O Canal Towpath providing a continuous non-motorized route to Washington, D.C.
Roaring Run Natural Area
This 3,070-acre tract of second and third growth forest in southeastern Westmoreland County is part of Forbes State Forest. Although the entire area is closed to all vehicles, it is open to hiking, cross-country skiing, and in the appropriate seasons, to access on foot by hunters and fishermen.