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3.28.2021

Spring Wildflowers at Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park is a lovely place to visit any time of the year, but especially as we come into wildflower season. The earliest wildflowers begin in March, but April is the time that the trillium and other wildflowers really thrive. 

Wildflowers at Cucumber Falls
Ohiopyle State Park, as you can see from our waterfalls and overlooks guide, is wonderful to visit at any time of the year, but the Great Gorge Trail, Cucumber Falls, the Meadow Run Trail, and Great Allegheny Passage Trail near the Ramcat Raft Launch Area have wonderful and abundant spring wildflowers. My recommendation for seeing terrific wildflowers in Ohiopyle is to park at the Cucumber Falls lot, check out the falls and the abundant wildflowers on the slopes of the gorge, and then head back up, cross the bridge just above the falls, and pick up on the Great Gorge Trail.
Red Trillium
The most abundant wildflowers on that trail are found on the portion of the trail immediately to the right of the end of the bridge, up and down the slopes leading down to the Youghiogheny River. This trail is very well graded and easy to hike, though not quite to the point of ADA compliant. Towards the further end of the trail it has some moderate elevation change, but still nothing too challenging. The trail measures in at 2.6 miles, though this is one way and not a loop, meaning a roundtrip hike clocks in at 4.2 miles. The hike did not nearly feel this long.
White Trillium
This certainly is a great place for a little nature walk/hike for people of all skillsets. Additionally, rainy springs make the waterfalls really swell, and lots of new waterfalls appear that are usually dry. Spend some time hiking anywhere in the park and you will not regret it, especially in the spring. Make sure you have a pair of boots that you do not mind getting muddy, because you will get dirty.
For more information on visiting Ohiopyle State Park, check out our guide to the park and its many waterfalls and scenic overlooks. 

For more wildflower hotspots, from early spring through the autumn, months, check out our list of 35 plus destinations that wildflower connoisseurs have to check out across the state. 

3.21.2021

Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel: Awesome Wildflowers, Waterfall, & Forest Near Pittsburgh

The Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel is a fantastic example of a community space that has been dedicated to the cultivation and preservation of early spring wildflowers. In addition to the wildflowers, there is a beautiful forest, with an amazing Hemlock specimen, along with a small waterfall. 

Unfortunately, me and CeCe were unable to walk this short trail together since it does not allow access for dog owners with their dogs. The three of us went to go here another time, but had to turn around because dogs are not allowed. I made a separate trip because it looked like a place that I really needed to visit. When it comes to the immediate Pittsburgh metropolitan area, meaning within a 15 minute ride of city limits, the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel can't be beat. Better destinations are located within an hour drive of the city, but if you have some time after work one day and want to get a quick hike in to see wildflowers and you live in Pittsburgh, this is the place to go. They have cultivated a wildflower preserve that is a fine example of what can happen when community interests work together for the betterment of the community. 
Virginia Bluebells
Because of how close this is to Pittsburgh, I was able to take a quick jaunt to the park and check it out without my canine companion. With how short the trail was, it only took me about 25 minutes to do the whole thing. The statistics say it is roughly a mile, but it did not feel like that. It is a fun little nature walk, though not quite level enough to be ADA accessible. This trail is especially easy and close to Pittsburgh.
The trail's little dual waterfall
The Trillium Trail is just one of a series of trails and parks that are spread in a line across the affluent Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel. Spring season with its wildflowers, and the autumn with delayed leaf color are some of the most easily visible natural demonstrations of urban heat islands, which are created from human activity such as the emission of greenhouse gases and the holding of heat from paved areas and buildings.
The flowers at this moment on the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel are about 3 weeks ahead of where they are at Wolf Creek Narrows, about an hour's drive north of Pittsburgh. These flowers are really popping right now, thanks to the bubble of relative warmth within the Pittsburgh Metro Area. Additionally, a portion of the preserve has been fenced to keep foraging down from white tail deer populations. This section holds most of the preserve of Trillium.


This massive Hemlock caught my attention the most. 
Virginia Bluebells are probably the second most dominant species at the preserve, with lots of them leading up to the small waterfall that is present at the preserve. Another nice option for seeing wildflowers is located nearby at the beautiful Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, but the flowers are not as plentiful there, and it too does not allow dogs 😕

For more information on visiting, check out this link to the Fox Chapel Garden Club.

For more wildflower hotspots, from early spring through the autumn, months, check out our list of 35 plus destinations that wildflower connoisseurs have to check out across the state. Trillium Trail made our list, especially for its easy accessibility to the Pittsburgh metro area, though several world renowned spring wildflower spots are located within an hour's drive of the city. I cannot stress enough how you should go and take advantage of the short window in March through mid to late April and check out these wildflowers. It is one of the most spectacular displays that Mother Nature puts on in this state, and it is so easy to miss because of how short the window is and how busy this season is in general. 

3.07.2021

Little Drummer Historical Pathway Trail: Hiking in Allegheny National Forest

In our last article we talked about the Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Area and Beaver Meadows Recreation Areas as awesome places to hike, and we talked about how the recreation areas within the 513,175 Acres/801.8 Square miles of land of Allegheny National Forest came to be and how the recreation ares within the forest have come to be as cooperative efforts to remediate prior industrial damage. A similar type of effort needs to go into effect to remediate industrial damage from the last few decades.  Another shining example of a recreation area within the ANF is the beautiful Little Drummer Historical Pathway Trail. Similar to Beaver Meadows, it goes through beautiful woodlands, wetlands, and around a small lake. The wetlands are traversed by way of boardwalks. For what the trail does not offer in challenge in regards to topography, it more than makes up for with its length and pretty scenery. It also consists of a shorter 1 mile loop, or a longer 2.1 mile loop near Ridgeway. 



Of all of the hiking areas within ANF, this low-key hiking area is one of my favorites. It is quiet, goes through stunning forests with beautiful stands of hemlock and pines, and it goes around a managed wildlife wetland area and pond. 
There are easily thousands of feet of boardwalk in the wetlands and surrounding the pond.
In the warmer months, this habitat area must just be teeming with wildlife. There is lots of great habitat for it and lots of places to take it in.

Markers are located all along the trail showcasing many of the species that call the area home, including the namesake of trail, the "Little Drummer" which is the nickname of the state bird, the ruffed grouse.

CeCe was having a blast, as she always does on our hikes.
Overall, the Little Drummer Historical Pathway Trail is one of my favorite areas to hike within Allegheny National Forest. There are many great hiking spots, including the extremely popular Minister Creek Natural Area, which involves a steep hike up to a large rock city, Hector Falls, which involves a hike to a waterfall that flows through a rock city, Rimrock Overlook, which goes on top of and between giant boulders to give a view the Allegheny Reservoir and valley, and the Beaver Meadows and Buzzard Swamp areas, Little Drummer is one of my favorites. 

The coordinates to the trailhead and parking area are:
41.408603, -78.869588

It is located near Ridgeway and off of Hallton-Spring Creek Road

For more info, check out the ANF Website 


 

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