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Shikellamy State Park: Scenic Overlook Above Susquehanna River, Boating, & Hiking

Shikellamy State Park hosts some fantastic views of the Susquehanna River, at the confluence of the West and North Branches of the Susquehanna River. This is a terrific place to take in the view and have a picnic lunch. This beautiful spot has been sought out for centuries. A one mile nature trail goes around the small area. 
The upper section of the state park with the overlook is the older section of the park, and the lower section of the park has Lake Augusta, which is formed from a dam that creates a lake at the confluence of the rivers. The dam is thought to be the world's largest inflatable dam, and it is only kept in place during the warmer months.The Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam is 8 feet tall and 2300 feet long. There is a marina for utilizing the lake area for recreational opportunities. Its proximity to I-80 makes this a great place to stop and stretch your legs if you are headed across the state, along with its close proximity to Knoebels Amusement Resort and points north and points south. 


Pikes Peak Scenic Overlook Above The Susquehanna River, Liverpool, PA

Pikes Peak Overlook is located halfway between Harrisburg and Sunbury, just off of Route 15. It gives a great view of the Susquehanna River from State Game Lands. The ride between Harrisburg and Sunbury is very pretty and underrated in regards to its scenic aspects. Be sure to check it out. It is located just off of Overlook Road, with a 50 foot hike over. Be careful driving up Overlook Road because it is a state forest road and steep. The wide views over this scenic stretch of river and highway are really worth checking out. I was thoroughly impressed by this overlook because of the wide expanses of views that you get. 

GPS coordinates are 40.609803, -76.954436


Exploring Beautiful Black Moshannon State Park Bog & More, Centre County

Black Moshannon State Park is a nice and little outdoor recreation gem for Central PA. It has a lot to offer for the region, with the central focus being a nice mountain lake, with lots of opportunities for boating with small boats, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming at a beach, picnicking, sightseeing, hiking, and more. CCC era cabins can be rented out, complete with fireplaces. There is even a one room schoolhouse that is preserved at the park. It is a lovely little state park near Philipsburg, Centre County. The highlight that brought us though is the unique bog habitat. 

The Bog Trail consists of nearly a half mile of hybrid shoreline and boardwalk hiking. The bog has wildflowers, three species of carnivorous plants, and lots of frogs, salamanders, and snakes, and is pretty neat to explore. I love these bog habitats in Pennsylvania, which are pretty rare for the region. Other great examples include the Spruce Flats Bog, and the bog on the John Taylor Trail. 
A look at a boardwalk portion of the bog trail.
Because of the higher elevation of this state park on the Allegheny Front, it stays cooler and migrating bird species that are generally seen in more northern areas are seen at this state park. 

The bog trail is easy to get to, located at the end of the road on the eastern side of the lake area. The Bog and Moss-Hanne Trails are cool. We highly recommend stretching your legs and checking out this rare habitat for Pennsylvania. 


6+ Raystown Lake Scenic Overlooks and Vistas

There are lots of great places to take in scenic views at Raystown Lake. Specifically at Raystown Dam you get views of the Juniata River valley to get a sense of what the valley looked like before it was filled in with the lake, and in the other direction towards the lake you get a view of the giant lake itself. On the river side, you can even get views of eagles and an eagles nest. 

Coordinates to Recreation Area at Dam:

40.431419, -78.006977

If you continue up the road to the dam, you also get a look at the start of the lake from this cool amphitheater area that is built like a pagoda, giving a great place to both reflect and take in views of the lake.

Hawn Overlook at Sunset
Up at the Hawn and Ridenour Overlooks you get sweeping high level vistas of the lake. 
Parking Area Coordinates:
40.431635, -78.016826
Ridenour Overlook. On this particular visit we watched an eagle glide around for like 20 minutes.
Ridenour gives a view of the dam and lake and is especially great for bird watching and it within feet of a parking area. 
Hawn's Overlook is just a few hundred feet walk down a trail from the parking area that give sweeping views of the lake. It is especially cool at sunset and approaching dusk. You can see the boats go by and their lights from all the way up at this vantage point and they look so small. 
The Seven Points Recreation Area has lots of places to take in scenic views of the lake and the valley in which it is located, and multiple places to take a dip in the water, fish, canoe, kayak, boat, camp, walk or bike along the shoreline. 
The Coffee Run Overlook is roadside on a pull off from Route 994. It gives a great view of the lake, across the lake from the area of the Lake Raystown Resort. 
40.316226, -78.179576

Raystown Lake is a beautiful place for sightseeing and relaxing and it is well within weekend trip distance of most people within the state. For all of the articles we have written on Raystown Lake Destinations, check out this link. 


Roaring Run Natural Area Hiking Trails: Laurel Highlands, Forbes State Forest: Creek Crossings, Wildflowers, Woods & Great Elevation Changes

Roaring Run Natural Area in Forbes State Forest and the Laurel Highlands is a fantastic place to hike. Thousands of acres that include very steep ascents up to rocky outcroppings, and descents into creek valleys and dozens of creek crossings at valley level. Wear a pair of boots that you don't mind getting soaked, because they will get soaked. This natural area is on the hill heading up to Seven Springs Ski Area, and adjacent to Hidden Valley Ski Area. In the spring, it has great opportunities for checking out wildflowers. In the summer, the hike is very well shaded, breezy, and involves crossing a beautiful mountain stream to cool off. If you have a pup that loves to hike and wade in the water, this is a fantastic place to go. This hike offers a little bit of everything that you often find on hikes across the state and the views are pretty dramatic. The land encompassed by the natural area is a mix of clear cut land and farm fields reverting back to nature. The trail in the creek valley was the grade of an old mountain logging railroad. Certain areas were not cut due to lower lumber quality oaks and hard accessibility, so forest age is pretty varied. Overall though, this is a fantastic place to go spend an afternoon relaxing in the woods, for it is within an hour of Pittsburgh. This beautiful property was purchased by the Western PA Conservancy and transferred to the state. 
The hikes are varied, offering a glimpse of most of the different kinds of hiking conditions that you run into across the state and it is extremely scenic. If you took a "core sample" of what the state has to offer in a hike, you would find just about every kind of condition in this location. 

You also get a glimpse at this site of what the landscapes of Hidden Valley and Seven Springs Ski Resorts would look like without the development. In the spring, the hollows and hillsides in many areas are covered in spring wildflowers, especially trillium.  We hiked about 15 miles and it was a challenging, varied, fun, and sometimes treacherous hike, especially at the dozens of creek crossings. 

Early spring shows a green and colorful blanket of fresh shoots of spring flowers. In my opinion, spring, summer, and fall wildflowers are more exciting than autumn color change, because they always deliver and offer such a stark contrast to the dormancy of winter in the Pennsylvania forests.
Beautiful trillium.

CeCe loving those creek crossings.

This hike is well worth checking out. It is varied enough to cover most of the types of hiking conditions that you will find anywhere within the state, and the wildflowers are fantastic. It is also very easily accessible from most points within western PA, including just an hour drive from Pittsburgh. 



A Relaxing Early Spring Day on the Beach at Presque Isle in Erie

I usually go for more structure in an article, but today I decided to loosen up a little bit and do something different. It was an April day that was unseasonably warm, with temps up in the 80s, which ended up being just shy of the overall record for the day in Pittsburgh and western PA. Morning came along and we wanted to do something. We headed up to Erie to do one of our favorite things on a warm day, spend a day on the beaches at Presque Isle State Park. 

Naturally because it was just coming out of winter, the water was still frigidly in the 30s and the air temps were also significantly cooler out on the peninsula due to winds from the lake, but it was a lovely spring day and way to cool off from a quick heat wave/ 

CeCe, being all about play as usual.
"Hmmmmm waves. What do I do with these things?"
We dipped our feet in for half a second before we could feel the hypothermia already kicking in like pins and needles, so swimming this early in the year is not only a no go, but dangerous as well, but we knew we would not be swimming anyways. 

We sat out on the beach, played, CeCe explored, and Brit flew a kite. Sara's Drive in had just opened back up for the year. It had been a long pandemic winter and getting out on a weekend like this was just perfect. 

This was just a perfect day and relaxing days like this are what really sticks out in memories. Hopefully seeing the fun we had lifts your spirits a little bit.
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