Nature Trip Ideas in Pennsylvania

Pack your binoculars and hit the road on a wildlife-watching trip in the remote and scenic Pennsylvania Wilds or experience miles of trails and feasts for the eyes in the Laurel Highlands!

Pennsylvania Wilds

Day One: The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle

See what takes flight at the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle, a southern gateway to the Pennsylvania Wilds. The inn, with its LEED-certified green technology, is a hub for bird watching in Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County. Take in the sweeping views of F.J. Sayers Lake and surrounding mountains where bald eagles nest and migratory birds stop for a respite. The inn and surrounding park offer seasonal programs about bird identification, migration and bird calls. Viewing stations and trails make it easy to spot our winged and four-legged guests. Sleep in downy comfort and wake up to a hearty breakfast set in front of a grand fireplace. 

Day Two: Elk Country Visitor Center

For a rare glimpse of Pennsylvania’s only elk population, head northwest from Bald Eagle to the Elk Country Visitor Center (1.5-hour drive). Take the road less traveled on the Elk Scenic Drive, one of the most picturesque backcountry trips you can take in Pennsylvania. Along the way, stop at natural areas, overlooks and viewing blinds. In Benezette, you’ll find the East’s premier elk-watching facility, the Elk Country Visitor Center. In addition to elk-watching trails and viewing stations, the center features a 4-D immersive theatre, interactive displays, educational programs and a gift shop stocked with memorabilia and artisan crafts. Nearby accommodations include the adjacent Homestead and B&Bs just a short drive away. 

Laurel Highlands

Day 1: Great Allegheny Passage (Ohiopyle State Park)

Get ready to hit the trails with a trip to the Great Allegheny Passage in Ohiopyle State Park. The 150-mile Passage connects with the C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland, Md., to form a 334.5-mile traffic and motorized vehicle-free route between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., with plenty of trail towns in between. Located at the southern reaches of the Laurel Ridge, Ohiopyle State Park encompasses approximately 20,500 acres of rugged natural beauty, 79 miles of hiking trails and 27 miles of biking trails guaranteed to please bikers and hikers of all ages.  

Bear Run Nature Reserve 

The Bear Run Nature Reserve at Mill Run lies along the west slope of Laurel Ridge, facing the spectacular Youghiogheny River Gorge, and is home to a diverse group of wildlife and plants. As you traverse the Reserve's trails, you’ll see everything from the beauty and solitude of dense oak and hemlock forest, to the sparkling-clear waters of Bear Run and Laurel Run, to a stunning view of the Youghiogheny River Gorge. You’re also only a short drive away from modern architecture’s gift to Pennsylvania–Fallingwater. Frank Lloyd Wright’s brilliant merger of house, hillside and waterfall offers an unexpected view via unique walkways and natural terraces.

Check out weekend road trip ideas or visit The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to read more about what Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks have to offer.

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