Tis the season for fall colors. This year I made it to Pittsburgh’s urban gem Frick Park.
As a reprieve from unusual heat during a workshop I offered at Touchstone Center for Craft located in Farmington, Pa., I arranged a tour for my students inside the Laurel Caverns where it is 54 degrees all year round. The great folks at the caverns provided us with a guided tour of the cavern with plenty of opportunity to photograph the rough limestone walls slowly carved out by slightly acidic rain water leaching through cracks in the mountain. The caverns follows the terrain of the mountain sloping down 15 degrees over 46 stories and is the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
Twenty miles of rough winding road warned the sign as the Jeep left the blacktop surface at Cedar Run for points north along the west rim of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. The Pine Creek Gorge cuts through the Allegheny Plateau beginning near Ansonia at the northern end to just a few miles north of Jersey Shore at the southern end.
Mile after mile of the Tiadaghton and Tioga forests unfold as the journey continues to the Bradley Wales Picnic Area. Here, there is access to the West Rim Trial. Hiking north, this section contains three remarkable vistas of the nearly 1000 foot deep and nearly one mile wide canyon. The third vista offers a nearly 180 degree view of the gorge, several miles to both the north and south can be seen. Vultures, hawks and eagles have been spotted here. This time only a pair of vultures were riding the thermals rising up from the valley floor. This out and back hike of about seven miles also winds along saddle contours of two mountain streams. The trail intersects with the larger stream at a small falls. The falls coupled with sunlight streaming through fresh glowing green leaves provides ambiance at a logical stopping point. Out of the woods and back in the car a bear is spotted grazing along the road side staying put only long enough for a portrait before darting out of sight into the dark forests lining the roads.
Check out this photo set to see more images from this hike
Thanks to everyone who came out for the Our State Parks: Western Pennsylvania opening exhibition. I appreciate your continued support. You can see more images from the opening here.
You can visit the exhibition at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks until Feb. 26, 2010.
Next stop, Mercer County…..
I recently paid a visit to my old hometown of Conway, Pa. I took a hike among the quarries, hillsides and gullies along Crows Run. The town is known for its large railroad yard, once the largest push-button rail yard in the world. As well the town founder and his family are buried in a remote wooded area of the borough far from homes and shops. The forgotten, overgrown cemetery from the hikes of my child hood is no more. The plot is now well visited and cared for as a rusty wagon holding crude yard tools is parked just outside the stone perimeter. The headstones and perimeter are likely mined from any one of dozens of abandoned quarries that dot the valley.
There have been discussions in state government over the past 20 years about using the valley, well situated between Freedom, Conway and Cranberry Township, as a high speed connection expressway linking I-79 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike with PA Route 65. The project has officially been cancelled, but lately has been discussed publicly as a development plan by local and federal elected officials.
The Conway family plot, dating to the 1880’s, lies directly in the path of the proposed highway.
See more photos from Conway here