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6.21.2020

Hiking and Exploring the Quebec Run Wild Area, Forbes State Forest

Today we explore a pretty quiet and secluded place, the Quebec Run Wild Area. This spot in Fayette County is a lovely place to do some hiking along Quebec Run and multiple tributaries on the eastern slope of Chestnut Ridge. Quebec Run Wild Area is in Fayette County, just about due south of Laurel Caverns, the Route 40 Scenic Overlook, Jumonville Glen, and the enormous Jumonville Cross, and directly on the border with West Virginia. The area has a few old growth trees that remained after heavy logging in the area, and the third growth forest has some small and mature trees that have regenerated in place of those that were cut down. Quebec Run is Southwestern PA's largest natural area and it is pretty amazing to explore. Hiking, backpacking, wildlife watching, fishing, and taking a little dip and swim in the creek are popular activities to do at the natural area, but all of these activities require a decent hike to access. This makes this an especially beautiful place to go, for even on the busiest of days, the people are well spread out over the 7441 acre wild area. On a weekend day when the more developed and popular Ohiopyle State Park, half an hour northeast of the wild area, and West Virginia's beautiful Coopers Rock State Forest, 25 minutes south east of the wild area, are likely jammed with visitors, Quebec Run Wild Area sits as a relatively quiet place of respite. On a busier day, you could easily quickly take in the views at Ohiopyle State Park and Coopers Rock State Forest relatively quickly, and then come to the Quebec Run Wild Area for a quiet and secluded hike. While the wild area does not offer the extremely scenic views of those state parks, the serene setting in the woods and the varied levels of hiking are fantastic to check out. Personally, I find the hikes at the Quebec Run Wild Area to be my favorites in southwestern PA. 

Because this is a designated wild area, no campgrounds, facilities, gas wells, lines, utilities, or anything are permitted to be built in this spot. It is meant to be kept as a wild area, and the flora and fauna clearly reflect this. Aside from the creation of trail heads, the construction and maintenance of trails and some trailheads, this place is left untouched as it regenerates from heavy logging. The wild area was established in 1972, but not officially declared as such until 2004. It is part of a division of Forbes State Forest.
CeCe, our adventure dog, is ready to roll! We launched off from the Mill Run Parking Lot. 
Quebec Run Wild Area Trail and recreation map. 26 miles of hiking trails await visitors, with trails for hikers of all skill levels.  
We had a great time hiking. I would rate the Miller Run Trail as a mostly easy hike, with some moderate elevation change, and a few small rocks and stumps to keep an eye out for. The trail is varied enough to keep it interesting, and the walk through the woods along the creeks is just wonderful. 
This gnarly hemlock really caught my attention. This is definitely an old growth tree that somehow managed to escape getting cut down during the logging days. Partially up the tree, it grew a split trunk. 
There were some rains the evening before our hike, leading to some beautiful mushrooms that were randomly popped up. It is so nice to see the forests fully back to life now that it is the summer. 
Eastern Red Spotted Newt
 We saw a BUNCH of newts and salamanders. All of them managed to escape me and CeCe stepping over them, and Brit's keen eye caught them. All of them were right in the middle of the trail.
CeCe captivated by a newt
 Intersection of Miller Trail and Mill Run Trail
 I love seeing all of the green. 
Most of the small creek crossings are directly on stones through the water or across single wide logs, but there are several nicely constructed and maintained bridges as well. I always appreciate these and the effort that people have put into making them. 
 As with many of the state's gorge areas, there are huge thickets of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron, which have burst in color 
 Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron are one of my absolute favorite things to see during summers in Pennsylvania.
 Another one of the bridges.
 Quebec Run Wild Area is such a bucolic place
 Brit and CeCe taking a dip in the creek. I soon followed. 

I especially love scenes like this, with green just dominating the scene, and ferns covering the forest floor.
Yet another Newt!
Quebec Run Wild Area is well worth checking out and just wandering around at. There is so much to see and the trails and area are so nice. It is centrally located, half way between Ohiopyle State Park and West Virginia's Coopers Rock State Forest, two other must see places. The hiking is absolutely fantastic. You are free to take your furry friends, as long as they are always leashed and that you clean up after them.

Coordinates to the Mill Run Trail Parking Area 
39.763539, -79.663701

Coordinates to the Hess Trail Parking Area
39.767685, -79.681115

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