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4.25.2021

PA Classic Covered Bridges List Bucket List: Twenty of Our Favorites

There are so many beautiful and classic covered bridges across the state, with 197 to be exact. That is a lot of covered bridges, and out of that large number, there are a few that stand out for being especially beautiful, well preserved, and in spectacular natural settings. For more information about each covered bridge, click the names of each covered bridge for a link to their separate articles. To see all of the covered bridges that we have written about, check out our covered bridges tag category. For more information about the state's collection of classic covered bridges, our favorite resource is pacoveredbridges.com

Each covered bridge title features a link to an article showing the locations of each bridge. We love all 197 covered bridges within the state, but the following spans stick out as our favorites. 

McConnells Mill Covered Bridge

One of only a few Howe Truss covered bridges in the state, and one of the largest examples overall, this stunning covered bridge is only eclipsed by the beauty of the overall setting. It crosses the particularly strong and beautiful Slippery Rock Creek in the midst of a nicely wooded gorge and next to a historic mill at McConnells Mill State Park. The preservation of this 19th century industrial and natural tract is one of the great triumphs of what the PA State Parks system has accomplished. 

Academia-Pomeroy Covered Bridge - Juniata County

The Academia-Pomeroy Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the state, and a great collaborative effort has ensured that it will last for generations to come. This covered bridge is located in a pretty remote area within Juniata County and is well worth the effort to seek out.

Packsaddle Covered Bridge - Somerset County

This is a really well preserved covered bridge, though what makes this covered bridge stand out is the natural setting in which it presides. It traverses a creek at the crest of a waterfall, which makes this covered bridge a must-see for connoisseurs of covered bridges and waterfalls alike. I am a huge fan of both of those things, and the combination of the two is just spectacular.

Forksville Covered Bridge - Worlds End State Park

Pretty much all of these covered bridges are in bucolic settings, which is not surprising, considering their location in Pennsylvania. The setting for the Forksville Covered Bridge is just incredible though. It crosses over the beautiful Loyalsock Creek in Loyalsock Gorge and Worlds End State Park. It leads to an old village area, which includes the awesome Forksville General Store and Inn, an unexpected place to find an epic Philly cheesesteak, and more. The bridge dates back to 1850, it is giant at 153 feet, and it has these cool window portals on the side, complete with small roof awnings over each one. 

Sachs Covered Bridge - Gettysburg

Sachs Covered Bridge is an idyllic crossing that has been dubbed the "most historic covered bridge," which is definitely a great way to describe it. It was built in 1852, when Gettysburg was just another bucolic agricultural area. Little did they know that eleven years later, the area would face unfathomable carnage as the Union Army laid defeat and started the final retreat of the Confederate Armies en route to the expansion of freedom in this country. Both armies are said to have utilized this crossing during the battle. As for the bridge itself, it is stunning. The lattice work is on the sides is unusual, especially for a covered bridge of this size. It crosses a creek and small pond area that are a draw for people that go fishing. It is a pleasant and beautiful place to visit.

Bowser Covered Bridge - Bedford County

This covered bridge is within a cluster of many covered bridges within Northwestern Bedford County, and the county as a whole, which really makes this covered bridge stand out. It was the first out of the series of covered bridges that we saw in that area, and we ended up driving right to it. I will say that it initially found us instead of us finding it. The natural setting in which it is located is beautiful, but the bridge itself is what really makes it stand out. It is located within short reach of Blue Knob State Park, which is home to the state's second highest point, which makes seeking this covered bridge out a prime location for a beautiful afternoon scenic drive/road trip.

Mercers Mill - Chester and Lancaster County Covered Bridge

I was awestruck by this covered bridge when I first saw it. The setting of it, within a dramatic rugged gorge and woodlands after driving through seemingly endless farming fields, made seeing this covered bridge in this location a surprise. We initially sought out this covered bridge and as we were approaching it on Google Maps, we wondered if we maybe had the wrong location or what, but then the covered bridge and gorge came into view, seemingly out of nowhere. It is perfectly taken care of and in a stunning setting. 

Geiger Covered Bridge - Lehigh County

This covered bridge is a personal favorite of mine and it really introduced seeking out covered bridges for me, back in my initial years of driving. My first two years of college were completed at Lehigh Carbon Community College, and I would purposefully commute on the backroads to avoid the backups on Route 309 in this section. With my roundabout way of going, I would cross two covered bridges, the Rex Covered Bridge and Geiger Covered Bridge, which both span Jordan Creek, in and around the Trexler Lehigh Game Preserve. Of these two Geiger Covered Bridge is the span that is most memorable to me, specifically for its size and its vertical planked siding and stepped square planks in its entry portals, something that is uncommon for covered bridges. As far as personal memories go, this covered bridge has the most for me in general, though it aesthetically stands out when compared to the other covered bridges in the state. 

Wehr Covered Bridge - Lehigh County

The stonework entries are what really makes this span stand out for me. Its setting within a public park on the beautiful Jordan Creek also enables easy access to appreciate the span as well. 

East and West Paden Twin Covered Bridges - Columbia County

Instead of making one giant covered bridge span, or in tying two spans together on a bridge pier, this covered bridge was created with two separate bridges that are built off of a large bridge pier in the center of a creek. I think this was a pretty ingenious plan in regards to cutting down on maintenance. The result is that it creates a uniquely stunning view. The surroundings are beautiful as well, within a mature forest and creekside area. Instead of being used for vehicular traffic, the bridge and surroundings have been converted into a large public park and picnic area, complete with picnic tables within the covered bridges, making these two covered bridges stand out as being the coolest picnic pavilions ever. 

Josiah Hess Covered Bridge - Columbia County

The Josiah Hess Covered Bridge is another beautiful bridge that stands out for its beautiful surroundings. Its creek crossing and wooded setting are idyllic. Similar to its nearby neighbors, the Twin Covered Bridges, it also does not carry vehicular traffic and has a picnic table in the middle of the span. Perfect places to go on a lovely afternoon picnic. 

St. Mary's Covered Bridge - Huntingdon County 

St. Mary's Covered Bridge is named after the church that is on one end of the bridge. It is the last remaining classic covered bridge in Huntingdon County and it is beautiful. Additionally, the creek that it crosses is a great trout fishing spot.

Colemanville Covered Bridge - Lancaster County 

The bridge and setting of this covered bridge are just awesome. The bridge is just massive, and it is surrounded by a rugged gorge with giant trees. This is one of the few times that I have gone up to a covered bridge and just been completely awestruck with its size. 

Dreibelbis Station Covered Bridge - Berks County

This was my favorite covered bridge prior to the restoration that was completed last year. I have not had the chance to visit since it was renovated, but one of the primary aspects that left me awestruck with this bridge, aside from its massive 160 foot+ length was the fact that it retained its original wooden support structure. Not many covered bridges of this magnitude remain with their original structure intact. 

The refurbishment of the bridge over the last year had the original support structure with steel and the original covered bridge structure was rehabilitated and placed upon the new bridge. While I really enjoy the aesthetic look of these bridges getting preserved and kept with minimal visibility of the steel support structure, I feel like some of the creaky character of these bridges is lost. The huge upside to these types of rebuilds are that they preserve the idea of the bridges and give them modern weight limits so emergency vehicles and others can cross them. I am not sure if I prefer the addition of a steel structure or if the original structure gets preserved and a new bridge crossing is constructed in a different place. Without knowing that a steel structure was added, it is tough to tell the difference and I do like the fact that the bridges get a strong second wind with steel reinforcement. The bridge definitely needed some refurbishment, and I am glad that it got preserved for generations to come instead of it being taken out and replaced with another boring poured concrete crossing. 

Banks Covered Bridge: Lawrence and Mercer Counties

On the border of Lawrence and Mercer Counties sits a pretty covered bridge. It just happens to have a crossover with one of my favorite TV shows of all time, The West Wing. The bridge was used in the filming when the area was used as a stand in for Indiana in the first episode of the fourth season in which President Bartlett campaigns during the primary for the election to his second term in office. While covered bridges are generally in agrarian areas, this one is actually located immediately adjacent to cornfields and a wooded setting. This Burr-Arch Truss bridge is just beautiful. 

McGees Mill Covered Bridge: Clearfield County 

McGees Mill Covered Bridge in Clearfield County is the last remaining covered bridge across any of the main branches of the Susquehanna River. When we first visited this covered bridge, we ended up stumbling upon it in a random drive and were amazed at its beauty. It is in a really cool forested spot as well. At 122 feet, this is a relatively substantial bridge, though it has been reinforced with steel, a process which we talked about earlier in this article. 

Kidds Mill Covered Bridge: Mercer County

This is one of the few remaining covered bridges with a Smith Truss. The unpainted wooden slats give it a more rustic look than the others we have listed here. It is also the only remaining covered bridge that is completely in Mercer County, which is not really a huge distinction, considering half of Banks Covered Bridge is also located in Mercer. This covered bridge is a great model for the community value that can be offered with the preservation. It has been bypassed by a newer bridge and converted to pedestrian traffic only, complete with a public park area. It is a great place to relax.

Knapp Covered Bridge: Bradford County

This classic covered bridge was recently rebuilt, and it is the tallest within the state. It comes up pretty unexpectedly in a rugged and unexpected location. Similar to the last covered bridge that we talked about, it too has unpainted wood, leading to a more rustic look. This rustic look fits in so well with the rugged surroundings. The crossing dates back to 1860.

Knoebels Covered Bridge

The Knoebels family has a history of saving old structures and giving them new life. The most substantial of which is the perennial coaster favorite, Phoenix, a masterpiece designed the Herbert Schmeck of Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas. The amusement park in Texas went out of business and the Knoebel family wanted to build a substantial wooden roller coaster. For pennies on the dollar compared to new construction, the park moved the entire priceless and legendary coaster, piece by piece, from Texas, and reconstructed it at their amusement park where it is world renowned for being one of the best. Over the years, the Knoebels have put their prowess in construction to use, gathering rides and more for the amusement park from other parks that have gone out of business over the years, in addition to building two roller coasters from the ground up that were based upon prior classic designs. 

One of the most substantial early projects for the family in relocation involved the relocation of an entire classic covered bridge from Benton, thirty miles north east of the park, in 1936. It is one of the few classic covered bridges in the state that is both privately owned, and well maintained. The Knoebels family is uniquely qualified to pull off this task, with a spectacular staff of skilled carpenters and access to their own lumber yard. The covered bridge is one of two on the property, which serve as central recreation points for visitors to the park. 

Be sure to check out all of these awesome covered bridges, along with the rest that the state has to offer. To see all of the covered bridges that we have written about, check out our covered bridges tag category. For more information about the state's collection of classic covered bridges, our favorite resource is pacoveredbridges.com.  


4.18.2021

PA Wildflower Hotspot Guide: 39+ Wildflower Destinations in Pennsylvania

 

So March, April, and early May are the prime times of the year to see early wildflowers. As the leaves begin to grow on the trees, the red blooms begin on the maples, and the flowering trees show off their brilliance, the forest floor comes to life as well. From long fallen brown leaves on forest floors from autumn, new life sprouts up with beautiful wildflowers adding color back to what looked lifeless just weeks earlier. I have updated this list with a few more fantastic destinations that I have stumbled across since we first published this list.

Late May through autumn provide another spectacle as even more flower species bloom. This article will cover some of the finest places in the state to view wildflowers. Since we are based out of Pittsburgh and the time frame is so short with early spring wildflowers, the majority of our early spring wildflower photos will be from Western PA destinations, though we will also cover a some of the greats from central, eastern, and northeastern Pennsylvania as well, particularly when it comes to summer and fall wildflowers.

First, here are several pieces of rules and advice if you are going to visit these places.
Be sure to check with the property if you are a dog owner, for several of these places are not dog friendly and do not allow people that are exploring with their furry friends. The majority do allow you to take pets in, as long as they are leashedkept on trail, and picked up after. Under no circumstances should your dog be left unleashed in these areas, for obvious safety reasons, but also to protect these sensitive, and often rare/endangered, wildflowers.

Be sure to stay on trail. These wildflowers are very fragile, and any trampling or damage to them can ruin them, especially when it comes to trillium. That is why these places must be specially protected, because so many of their habitats have been destroyed with development.

Because these are wetter areas, ticks are very common, so be sure to put on some bug spray and to comb through your dog's fur, and make sure they are up to date with their Nexgard and Lyme disease vaccines.

These are sensitive ecosystems and it is critical for you and your dogs to stay on trail to preserve the beautiful wildflowers. Many of these specimens of flowers are actually quite rare, so it is critical that you treat these ecosystems with the best care possible.
Additionally, the places that these wildflowers really flourish are areas with above average moisture. That means that you will certainly get muddy, though any trail in Pennsylvania is going to be a muddy mess at this time of the year. Make sure you wear a pair of boots that you do not mind getting dirty. I have a pair of waterproof Keens that have held up like iron, though have seen better days, that I wear specifically on most trails during this time of the year.

Now on to some of the spectacular places to visit for wildflowers. The top seven are our absolute favorite standouts, but the rest are worth a visit as well.

  • Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area - Western PA - Butler County 
  • Miller Woods Natural Area of Slippery Rock University (located immediately adjacent to Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area)
Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area near Slippery Rock offers some fun hiking in a unique habitat. It is located along Wolf Creek, which is a stunning creek that is more like a small river this time of the year. The skunk cabbages begin to appear throughout March, but as April unfolds, the wildflowers make the forest floor look as if it has been painted with color.
The sounds of the creek are just so relaxing. The hiking trail is short, but really rewarding at just over a mile loop. The first part of the hiking loop goes through the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area proper, which is a wetland with many vernal pools.
One of the many vernal pools, with flourishing skunk cabbages
The same view, just three weeks later
This area and the slopes immediately around it are where the wildflowers flourish. The dominant wildflower is the skunk cabbage here, though in a few weeks, I can tell that this location will just be popping with color, for the plants that are covering the forest floor have not yet developed blooms.
Trout Lillies huddled up on a chilly morning
Of all of the places we mention in this article, I believe this will be the last to peak, possibly into late April and into May, and possibly the most spectacular. Virginia bluebell, spring-beauty, trout-lily, and white trillium have all been documented in high abundance at the narrows, with many other species that are rare and threatened.
As far as it comes to the experts, Wolf Creek Narrows is home to one of the most diverse collections of wildflowers in the state, with multiple rare and threatened wildflower species. Since it is a little colder in this location, the flowers are a little behind in growing compared to the other locations, but should be popping in the next few weeks. The other portion of the preserve is filled with a beautiful second growth forest up a pretty steep embankment.
Virginia Bluebells
This location is with us and undeveloped today thanks to ownership and preservation by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the same organization that fought for and won preservation of natural gems like McConnells Mill, Moraine, and Ohiopyle State Parks. This property is a gem to visit for hiking and exploring nature. From early spring through April and May, the sheer quantity of species within this tract, and the adjacent Miller Woods Nature Reserve of Slippery Rock University, and then the following adjacent tract of Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area offer a diversity of flowers that just cannot be beat.

Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed and cleaned up after. Leashing is critical to preserve the sensitive ecosystem of the park.

For more information on visiting, check out our article on it and the website of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
  • Ohiopyle State Park - Western PA - Fayette County:
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. 
  • Charles F Lewis Natural Area: Gallitzin State Forest Near Johnstown

I was amazed by the gorge walls covered with red and white trillium flowers. This location does not get a lot of hype for wildflowers, but between the rugged and challenging hiking up the Clark Run Gorge, and ultimately, the side of the large Conemaugh River Gorge, this spot is both a great spot for challenging hiking and for wildflower lovers. There is even a small waterfall on the hike.

The Charles F. Lewis Natural Area was named after the second president of the legendary Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which has lead Western Pennsylvania towards preserving and rejuvenating natural areas for the public good. Their efforts lead directly to the creation of state parks such as Ohiopyle and McConnells Mill. This natural area is named in his honor. For more information about the natural area and the other hiking opportunities at Gallitzin State Forest, check out this article. 
  • Frew Falls Trail - Slippery Rock Creek
I basically stumbled upon this hike on a random drive, and information is very hard to come by online. I found this spot just by driving and ending up at a pretty bridge with an old mill dam waterfall on Slippery Rock Creek, just north of McConnells Mill State Park and Route 422. Several times I have tried to explore to the south of this spot to see Grant City Falls from its southern edge, but struck out with it being private property. This time, I was cruising and driving around and heard the power of water from the falls on the old mill's dam and had to check it out. I pulled over in a stone pull off area at coordinates: 40.991949, -80.184256 and found a well worn trailhead and a rock city. I was amazed with the beauty and I walked down with CeCe and my camera and started hiking, just expecting this to be a quick stretch of the legs. It is clear that this area is a "party" spot for the locals, with light graffiti on many of the boulders, beer cans, and extinguished camp fires. Upon further research, it appears that some people use the creek as a swimming hole, which is very dangerous and you should not attempt, with how strong the currents are and how big the boulders are within Slippery Rock Creek. Several people die a year by drowning within the creek, from this spot and down through McConnells Mill State Park. 
Even with the vandalism, the beauty of nature still shines through in this spot, with a giant rock city, which feels even more imposing than the ones in McConnells Mill State Park, just a few miles downstream from here. I continued hiking down the trail because I realized that the trail had to end pretty shortly. I started to see some wildflowers begin to pop up and some beginning to bloom as I went further down the trail, where less people seem to go. About half way through on my hike, about a half a mile in, a rolling portion of the landscape was absolutely covered in beautiful white trillium in one of the biggest patches I have ever seen. I continued hiking until I reached a cross stream, and realized that this might be a way to access the ever elusive Grant City Falls, and low and behold, there it was, emerging through some enormous boulders. The northern side of Muddy Creek has access through hiking from the Frew Falls area and I was amazed at its beauty. Muddy Creek carries the outflows from Lake Arthur and it is powerful. Back to the topic of wildflowers though. This hike is a must for any trillium lover. I will say though that it is in the easy to moderate range for hiking, simply because of the rocky setting and slight maneuvering, but minimal elevation change until you reach the area of Grant City Falls.  
Grant City Falls itself has about three or four falls ranging from 4 feet to about 30 feet tall, and there are three other falls along this hiking route, from one seasonal waterfalls that is similar in size and flow to Alpha Falls at about 15-20 feet tall, one waterfall rapid in Slippery Rock Creek that is about 4 feet tall, and a spillway waterfall from the old mill dam. 
This is a fantastic little hike with the added benefit of a tremendous area of trillium growth. Beware though that there is only room for just a few cars to park there, so expect the chance that you may not be able to park to visit this one, but two other places on this list, Hells Hollow in McConnells Mill State Park, and Wolf Creek Narrows, are not too far from this spot. The hike from the parking area to Grant City Falls is about 1.2 miles each way.

Coordinates:

40.991949, -80.184256
  • Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail - Western Maryland and Western PA
Most of the length of the Great Allegheny Passage, throughout its 150 miles from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, has wildflowers along it. It passes through two of the places that we mention in this article, Ohiopyle State Park, and Cedar Creek Park, and passes near Braddock's Trail Park. This is a hotspot for early spring wildflowers, in addition to summer and early fall specimens. For more information on this adventure, check out this article.
  • Otto and Magdaline Ackermann Reserve - Western PA - Westmoreland County
This place is a hidden treasure in North Huntingdon Township that offers some really nice short hikes at varying intensity. I have visited this place several times, but during my latest visit this spring, I was awestruck at just how many wildflowers covered the forest floor. It legitimately looked like there had been a dusting of snow with how much cover there was over the fallen brown leaves leftover from the fall.
This property has some easy and relatively level hikes, and some other hikes that are steeper and more challenging. There is even a little waterfall on the property. The property is conserved and is maintained through the Westmoreland Land Trust, though be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the entrance, since it is easy to miss and located in between the yards of two houses.
The woods are located about 200 feet from the road. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed and cleaned up after. Leashing is critical to preserve the sensitive ecosystem of the park.

For information on visiting the Ackermann Reserve, check out the website of the Westmoreland Land Trust and our article on this awesome place.


  • Braddock's Trail Park - Western PA - Westmoreland County

Braddock's Trail Park offers a little bit of everything. It is a great little hiking/nature walking destination, with forest floors that are covered with wildflowers. There is even a little waterfall and some nice little scenic overlooks. Several dozen different species have been documented.
As far as being overwhelmed at the sheer amount of wildflowers in one spot, this and the Ackerman Reserve are the two places that I have truly been awestruck with spring wildflowers. Much of the development for visitors at the park was actually underdone as a project by the Boy Scouts. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed and cleaned up after. Leashing is critical to preserve the sensitive ecosystem of the park.

For more information on visiting, check out this previous article, and the website for the park.

The following three Western PA destinations are bunched together since they are within minutes of each other.
  • Forbes State Forest - Spruce Flats Bog
  • Laurel Summit State Park and Forbes State Forest - Wolf Rocks Hike
  • Linn Run State Park - Grove Run Trail
This trifecta is fantastic for wildflowers, and all are located within minutes of each other in western PA's Laurel Highlands. Grove Run Trail in Linn Run State Park, and the Wolf Rocks Trail and Spruce Flats Bog in Laurel Summit State Park and Forbes State Forest. The latter two spots can be reached from the same trailhead in Laurel Summit State Park. 

Spruce Flats Bog

I list these three spots as basically being in one location because they are all located almost adjacent to each other and you should spend at least an afternoon exploring all three if you really love wildflowers. As far as impressive wildflowers, Spruce Flats Bog is an absolute must see. The bog is home to some of the only carnivorous plants that are native to Pennsylvania. The bog is also a rare example of a higher elevation bog, which is located within a mountaintop depression. Bogs, like waterfalls, are geologically temporary. They initially start off as open water ponds and lakes, but over time, dirt fills them in and plants begin to grow within them. Eventually the dirt and plants overtake the bogs and meadows and forests grow. This occurred over millions of years and eventually a full forest grew.
Boardwalk over a part of Spruce Flats Bog
Around 1900, lumbermen cut down all of the Hemlocks in this spot, and with this, it ended up reverting this spot back into a bog again. They referred to this as "Spruce Flats" because lumber industry people referred to any short needle evergreen as a spruce, even though hemlocks are not spruces. Spruce Flats Bog was purchased as part of a greater restoration project by the state in 1909.
The bog currently consists of six to eight inches of peat on top, and two to three feet of mud on the lower layer. The peat is very acidic and not suitable for most vegetation that is native to Pennsylvania.
Some hardy evergreens have taken to the bog, cranberries, and several carnivorous plant species have flourished in this setting. The bright red plants and dark green evergreens really pop with the dark peat waters of the bog. A short boardwalk takes you out into the bog.
Trailhead for the Spruce Flats Bog and Wolf Rocks Trail
The Wolf Rocks Trail launches off from the same trailhead as the Bog Trail, and lots of wildflowers can be seen on the longer hike to the beautiful overlook.
Wildflowers on the Wolf Rocks Hike
For an overview of the Wolf Rocks hike, which goes off from the same trailhead that goes to Spruce Flats Bog, check out this article.
Grove Run Trailhead
The Grove Run Trail in Linn Run State Park is relatively easy loop trail with a mileage of 4 miles, with a little bit of moderate elevation change. It follows a small tributary to Linn Run, and wildflowers are seen along the trail, it grows in intensity as you follow the trail and it ascends the Grove Run Gorge, but I still rate the trail as easy to moderate.
A wildflower growing through a fern and the dead leaves from last autumn. These kinds of scenes of  the cycle of life are a huge part of what really inspires me on these spring walks in the woods.

If you are into hiking, do the whole loop, but if you are just going for the wildflowers, launch off from either direction of the loop's trailhead for about a half mile to see the highest concentrations of wildflowers that the trail has to offer.

For more information on visiting all three, check out our previous articles on Linn Run State Park and the Wolf Rocks and Beam Rocks hikes. Spruce Flats Bog is located at the same trailhead as Wolf Rocks. Here are the official websites for Linn Run State Park, and Forbes State Forest, which is home to the Wolf Rocks and Beam Rocks Hikes, and Spruce Flats Bog.

  • Trillium Trail - Western PA - Allegheny County, Fox Chapel:

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 a few weeks ago but had to turn around since dogs are not allowed.
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. Pretty much any trail we mention in this article would be fine to do with children, but 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.
  • Presque Isle State Park - Western PA - Erie
Presque Isle State Park is best known for its beautiful sand beaches, but the peninsula is teeming with flora and fauna. The flora is well balanced, reaching from early spring through the fall. The wetlands are especially great, but the dunes leading up to the beaches are great for wildflowers as well. For more information on visiting, check out our myriad of articles on this fantastic place. 
  • McConnells Mill State Park - Western PA - Lawrence County:
Awaiting blooms on the wildflowers at McConnells Mill State Park. My last recent visit had a quick morning snowfall come through
The Hell Run Trail at McConnells Mill comes to life with wildflowers in the spring. The hillsides and hollow valley leading to Hells Hollow Falls are a great place to check out spring blooms. Our last attempt to visit saw a random snow squall, but the flowers still managed to show through the dusting of snow. In late April, the flowers should hit peak.
Hells Hollow Falls in the midst of some spring snowfall
A huge added upside is in seeing beautiful Hells Hollow Falls. While this is the hotspot for wildflowers in the park, you will see them throughout the park as well. For more information on visiting, check out our guide to McConnells Mill State Park and the park's website.
  • Hoverter Box Huckleberry- Central PA - New Bloomfield, Perry County
The Hoverter & Sholl Box Huckleberry Colony in Central PA is not very well known and one of the overall oldest living organisms on the planet. This time of the year, its beautiful blue/purple blooms dominate the forest floor. This is a relatively small area, but it is definitely worth a stop if you are located in, or passing through, Central PA.
GPS Coordinates:

40.403941, -77.174757

For more information on visiting, check out this previous article of ours.
  • Latodami Nature Center at North Park - Western PA - Allegheny County:
Skunk Cabbages at the Latodami Nature Center
This place is a lovely gem on the northern edge of Allegheny County's North Park. The park is split into two halves by a road. One half primarily consists of an old farm with a pond, old barn, old farmhouse, picnic grounds, wetlands, a steeply banked forest, and a giant meadow that was once farmland. This half of the park does not have many spring wildflowers, except for some skunk cabbages near the pond area, but it will be vibrant in summer and into fall in the meadow area. The nature trails are just wonderful for some longer, but generally easy strolls through area teeming with birds and white tail deer. The meadow area just bursts with color once the late spring and summer wildflowers grow. The other half of the park goes into a nicely forested hollow with a lovely nature walk. Similar to Braddock's Trail Park, this portion of the park was also improved by the Boy Scouts, who built bridges, benches, trail grading, and even some manmade vernal pools for wildlife. The entire area is teeming with Skunk Cabbages.
The upper meadows section will come to life with wildflowers in the summer and early fall seasons. This is a noted location for birding. 
The fact that they have even been able to preserve this significant chunk of land is pretty impressive when considering how much suburban development has just exploded around the park. The farm area was a strategic land conservation project and was consequential to the region. Countless other farms within a 10 mile radius of the park were snapped up and have been filled with cookie cutter suburban developments and McMansions. When I think of the effort that was made to preserve this pristine spot and keep it from being absorbed into suburbia, I think of one of my favorite episodes of The Wonder Years, "Whose Woods Are These" where the kids fight against a suburban developer who planned to, and succeeded in tearing down "Harper's Woods" a place where the kids all played when they grew up.
Instead of this pristine spot succumbing to suburban development it was saved and it is lovely to explore. When coupled with the rest of what the North Park area has to offer, this is just a lovely place to spend an afternoon, evening, or even a relaxing day. While Skunk Cabbages are the primary spring wildflower you can see at the nature center, summer wildflowers are just radiant at this location.

For more information on visiting, check out this article from Allegheny County Parks.
  • Fall Run Park - Western PA - Allegheny County:
Fall Run Park in Shaler Township, just outside of Pittsburgh, is one of my favorite short nature walks/hikes in the immediate Pittsburgh area.
It is home to a nice creek, complete with a roughly 20 foot waterfall and some small cascades. Along the steep banks, and in the meadow above the main waterfall, spring wildflowers bloom and then summer flowers grow as well. This is a lovely small place really brings the community closer to nature. Species include bloodroot, trillium, jack-in-the pulpit, wild geranium, Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauties, violets, and great bellwort.

For more information on visiting, check out this previous article from us.
  • Raccoon Creek State Park and the Raccoon Creek State Park Wildflower Preserve - Western PA - Beaver County
Raccoon Creek State Park's Wildflower Preserve is a nice place to hike at, but the wildflowers have never really overwhelmed me. Unfortunately, the Wildflower Preserve itself bans dogs with their owners. The upside is that you can still explore other areas, namely the actual highlights of the state park, with your furry friends and you will still be able to take in some wildflowers that are scattered throughout the state park.
Frankfort Mineral Springs. For more background information on this, and the other fun places the park has to offer, check out this article

I was disappointed that the two of us were unable to go into the Wildflower Preserve, so CeCe and I had to "settle" and hike my favorite part of the state park, Frankfort Mineral Springs. No need to fret  if you are a dog owner and want to see wildflowers because there are plenty throughout the state park as well, and they are just as prevalent in many parts as they are in the preserve itself. Even at peak times, in prior years, I was not overwhelmed by the flowers at the Wildflower Preserve like I've been at the locations that I have mentioned earlier in the article, though it is still worth visiting just as a fun hike.

For more information on visiting, check out the park's website.
  • Cedar Creek Park - Western PA - near Belle Vernon 
Cedar Creek Park, on the edge of Westmoreland County near Belle Vernon, is a place that is noted for having a great collection of wildflowers. I was not overwhelmed by the wildflowers here, but the location is worth a visit nonetheless as a short hike if you are in the area. Cedar Creek Gorge is filled with a nice second growth forest and has a trail that leads up to it from the Youghiogheny River and the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail. It is a great community gathering place. For more information on visiting, check out the park's website. 
  • Schenley Park - Western PA - Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh's Schenley Park offers a little bit of everything. While there are not too many early spring wildflowers at the park, summer and early fall are wonderful for seeing wildflowers, especially within the Panther Hollow Section of the park. Schenley Park is also home to Phipps Conservatory, which is home to world class botanical gardens. For more information on visiting Schenley Park, check out this article.
  • Moraine State Park to Jennings Environmental Education Center: Glacier Ridge Hike - Western PA
The Moraine State Park to Jennings Environmental Education Center Glacier Ridge Trail takes you across a glacial ridge that has been covered with sediment, dirt, and forest over the years. The conditions are perfect for growing wildflowers and the hike is long, but pretty. As far as hikes go when compared to the others that we have talked about, this is about 13-14 miles from one end to the other, so If you are into doing a slow marathon, park on one end and do it as an out and back. If 13 miles is about your limit, maybe go with a partner and have them park at one end and then park and start at the other, or go part way in and then turn around. Jennings Environmental Education Center is a rare example of a prairie in Pennsylvania and it begins to come to life in early spring, and peaks with summer wildflowers.

For more information, check out the park websites for Moraine State Park and Jennings Environmental Education Center.
  • Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve - Central PA - Pequea, Lancaster County
Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve Map, Courtesy of the Lancaster Conservancy
Shenks Ferry is home to one of the most noted collections of wildflowers in the state and it is an absolutely lovely place to hike. Between here and the surrounding nature areas on the western boundary of Lancaster County on the banks of the Susquehanna River, you will be sure to have a great time. More than a hundred different species of wildflowers have been documented on this tract. They have really done an impressive job with conservation in this area of Lancaster County. The topography and geology of this specific location of the Susquehanna River is breathtaking and looks unlike any other area in the state. Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is dog friendly as long as they are leashed. For more information on visiting, check out the park's website with the Lancaster Conservancy.
  • Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area - Central PA - Dauphin County
The Old Field area of Boyd Big Tree Preserve is noted for great summer wildflowers. Map courtesy of DCNR.
People in the Harrisburg area have a really great option to hike in the forest really close by at Boyd Big Tree Park. Wildflowers abound in this tract, which was spared from development, similar to many of these places throughout our list. Instead of it succumbing to suburban sprawl with housing developments, retail, and industry, this tract was saved in 1999 by a developer and ownership transferred to the state. It is a great property to hike around if you are in the area and it is home to a decent collection of wildflowers, though it is more of a summer and early fall blooming centric location. This location is dog friendly as long as they are leashed. For more information on visiting, check out the preserve's website.
  • Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania - Eastern PA - Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
 Photo courtesy of Morris Arboretum
The Morris Arboretum in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia is a gem for relaxing outdoor recreation in Philadelphia. It is the state's official arboretum and it is home to 2500 varieties within 13,000 labeled specimens. This is another place that trends towards more summer wildflowers, though the flowering trees and some spring wildflowers make this a place that you need to check out in the spring, especially the cherry trees in the Japanese section of the park. For more information on visiting, check out the arboretum's website. Unlike most of the places we have listed, there is an admission fee and it is not dog friendly. Unfortunately, the Arboretum is closed to visitors due to the Covid 19 situation.
  • Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area - Central PA
While the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is best known for its late winter bird migration, in which hundreds of thousands of birds have been counted, it is also a great place to check out wildflower specimens. It has a balanced selection of spring and summer wildflowers and is worth a stop if you are in the area. For more information on visiting check out the area's website.
  • Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve - Eastern PA - New Hope, Bucks County
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve Map
New Hope is an absolutely beautiful and historic suburb of Philadelphia. Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve is located just off the banks of the Delaware River and near Washington's Crossing State Park. It offers a wild variety of wildflowers that range from early spring all the way through the fall. It was specially cultivated by experts in the Philadelphia region over the better part of the last century to be an excellent preserve for wildflowers. This is a lovely place to visit, though the grounds are closed to the public as a result of Covid-19. For more information on visiting, check out the park's website.  They are also not dog friendly and they charge an admission fee.
  • Greenland Tract - Weiser State Forest - Central PA - Dauphin County
The Greenland Tract of Weiser State Forest in Northeastern Dauphin County near Tower City is appreciated as a decent place for wildflower viewing. This spot is particularly brilliant in mid summer-fall, though the short hikes are wonderful year round. For more information on visiting, check out the DCNR page.
  • Ann Rudd Saxman Nature Park- Western PA, Greensburg - Westmoreland County:
While not a huge spring wildflower hotspot, this is a really nice place to go for a nice walk in the woods. There are some spring wildflowers, but this place trends towards summer and early fall blooms.
We did see some skunk cabbages and thoroughly enjoyed our time here. This place will really pop in the summer through fall months. While I would not go from a far distance to visit, I certainly recommend checking it out if you are in the area. It is a really nice local conservation project. For details on visiting, check out the Nature Park's website.
  • Hawk Mountain - Eastern PA - Orwigsburg, Berks and Schuylkill Counties

Map courtesy of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
While Hawk Mountain is best known for its world renowned raptor migration observation and fantastic scenic vistas, it is also home to a multitude of wildflower species that range from early spring all the way through fall. Unfortunately though, due to the Covid 19 situation, the sanctuary is currently closed to the public. They also charge an admission fee and are not dog friendly. For more information on visiting, check out their website.
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area - Northeast, PA - Pocono Mountains
    • Hornbeck's Creek Trail
    • Dingman's Falls and Silverthread Falls Boardwalk Trail
    • Raymondskill Falls 
Silverthread Falls on the Dingmans Falls Boardwalk Trail
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a wonderful place to check out wildflowers. This is a terrific destination for people who love hiking, and waterfalls, with the added bonus of beautiful wildflowers. The Delaware Water Gap offers the finest, and tallest, waterfalls that the state has to offer. Hornbeck's Creek Trail offers a plethora of wildflowers with about seventy different species, and beautiful Hornbecks Creek/Indian Ladder Falls. It is a 3.7 mile out and back hike and the most difficult hike of the three places mentioned here in the Delaware Water Gap when compared to Dingman's Falls trail largely consisting of an ADA compliant flat boardwalk, and Raymondskill Falls having a really short hike. I have seen wildflowers at the latter two, but Hornbeck's is the ultimate place to go to see wildflowers in the Delaware Water Gap and the greater Pocono region.
For more information on the Hornbeck's Creek Trail, Dingman's Falls Trail, and Raymondskill Falls, check out this listing from the National Park Service. You can also read more from our articles on Raymondskill Falls and Dingman's/Silverthread Falls.
  • Ricketts Glen State Park - Northeast, PA - Endless Mountains Region
Summer Wildflowers on the Falls Trail
While I have not seen Ricketts Glen in early spring, I can vouch for the park being filled with terrific summer and early fall wildflowers, especially in the meadows on the northern edge of the park and within the glens.
Wildflowers in the Hayfields meadows on the northern boundary of the park in summer.
The park is also known for having decent spring wildflowers throughout the park's many glens, slopes, and wet areas. For more information on visiting, check out our guide to Ricketts Glen State Park.
  • Worlds End State Park - Northeast PA - Endless Mountains Region
Canyon Vista at Worlds End State Park
The region surrounding Ricketts Glen State Park, including State Game Lands and State Forests, are home to endless adventure and perfect habitats for wildflowers. Heading up to both Canyon Vista within Worlds End State Park, and up to the nearby High Knob Overlook, the forest floors have so many spring wildflowers. 

For more information on visiting Worlds End State Park, check out this article. For more information on going to the nearby spectacular High Knob Overlook, check out this article.

  • Hickory Run State Park - Northeast PA - Pocono Mountains

Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Run State Park in the Poconos is a wonderful hiking and outdoor adventure destination. The Hickory Run Trail is particularly noted as being great for wildflowers. For more information on visiting, check out our guide at this link.

  • Erie National Wildlife Refuge - Western PA - Crawford County

Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Crawford County is a wonderful birding destination and place to observe wetland habitats. The wildflowers in the summer and fall are just beautiful, especially when the Lilly Pads bloom.

Summer and Fall wildflowers are abundant throughout the refuge. For more information on visiting, check out this article. 

  • Winslow Hill/PA Elk Region - Western PA - Pennsylvania Wilds - PA Great Outdoors Region

PA's Elk Herd is majestic to see in any season, but for wildflowers it is fantastic towards late spring through the summer. Winslow Hill Is a prime grazing pasture for the elk. It is one of the greatest environmental reclamation projects that has ever been undertaken by the state. It was once stripped barren and scarred with strip mines. Restoration projects converted the land rolling hills and meadows, filled with wildflowers and grasses that the state's elk herd and deer thrive on. Late spring and summer as it comes into bloom is simply incredible. For more information on visiting, check out this article.

  • Raystown Lake - Central PA - Raystown Lake Region

Seven Points Recreation Area
The area around Raystown Lake trends towards late spring and summer wildflowers, and they are particularly vibrant around the Seven Points Recreation Area. This area is also especially lovely to camp at, so for any of you that are into camping, this is a wonderfully well rounded place to visit. 
For more information on visiting Raystown Lake, check out this article

By no means is this a complete list. There are many great places to check out wildflowers across the state, but these are some really decent hotspots. As always, when it comes to our suggestions to see natural beauty, our best suggestion is to look outside your front door. With how much natural beauty is within our state, it is likely that you will run into some great spots for wildflowers.

We have included a map with the locations mentioned within this article.

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