Nestled between the mountain ridges in Perry County is Sherman’s Valley. The valley is traversed by Route 274, with its heart in Blain, PA. I came here in search of a couple of covered bridges on Sherman Creek. The narrow valley feels remote due to its situation between two ridge lines. However, it is not to far from Carlisle and Harrisburg.
It was, unfortunately, quite a gloomy morning when I was there. Here is a sampling of what I saw (and, or course, those covered bridges):
It is one of my goals to try to visit every state park in Pennsylvania. I’ve made pretty good progress so far, but I think some the parks in the western part of the state will be a challenge due to distance. This May I was able to stop by Colonel Denning State Park and Fowlers Hollow State Park.
Colonel Denning State Park in Newville, PA is named after a William Denning, a sergeant in the Continental Army, who made wrought iron cannon for the Army. He was never actually a Colonel. His namesake park hosts hiking, camping, boating, skating, cross country skiing and a swim beach and all the usual picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.
I also made it to Fowlers Hollow State Park, a small state park in Blain, PA in the valley of Fowler Hollow Run. One can hike, fish, picnic, hunt, horseback ride, mountain bike, cross country ski and snowmobile at the park. There is also a small campground. Its trail system connects with the trails in the Tuscarora State Forest.
Nestled between South Mountain and the Blue Mountain ridge line lies the Cumberland Valley, an area known for fertile farms, world famous fly fishing, and an annual classic car show. I explored the farm country in the northern part of the valley.
On my way to Linn Run State Park, I came across the Powdermill Nature Reserve of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The Museum is in Pittsburgh, but the Powdermill Reserve is in a beautiful area of the Laurel Highlands. The reserve’s website can be found here.
Powdermill Nature Reserve is a field station and laboratory where researchers do long-term studies of natural populations in western Pennsylvania. It is a great place for outdoor fun and education.
You can explore the beautiful woodlands around the reserve via the hiking tails. You can also visit the nature center, which features exhibits that highlight local wildlife, a room of beautiful mounted specimens, an indoor stream, a fish tank, and a “marsh machine” that uses a living plants to purify waste water.
The reserve does permit hunting on a limited basis through a annual lottery for 100 permits. Due to some inclement weather and limited time, I confined myself to the visitor center on this trip.
Southwestern Pennsylvania is a great area for state parks. In my last post, I explored the state parks with “laurel” in their names (due to the fact they are on or around the long ridge line known as Laurel Mountain). Today we’ll add a few more in the area.
Starting in Bedford County, I exited the turnpike at Bedford and soon found myself a Shawnee State Park. This park has a large lake, campground, beach, disc golf, hiking, fishing and other amenities.
The following day I went to check out Kooser State Park. This one also has a lake with fishing, hiking and picnicking. There is also a very nice small cabin colony there.
On my way to Laurel Summit State Park, I passed through Linn Run State Park. This a beautiful, forested park follows along the course of Linn Run. It is adjacent to the Forbes State forest. It offers stream fishing, hiking, picnicking and has a beautiful cabin colony for overnight stays. Admas Falls on Linn Run is a favorite scenic spot and has a picnic table available.
Pennsylvania has 219 covered bridges, the most of any state in the US. The bridges were covered to protect the wooden structural supports and allow them to last longer. The also provided shelter for pedestrians and vehicles in bad weather. Columbia County has one of the largest concentrations of covered bridges in Pennsylvania. I photographed some of them on a recent trip.
This is the view from the Fireline Trail at Hickory Run State Park of the Lehigh River and an old bridge support. This view from the rim of the Lehigh Gorge is a fairly accessible half mile walk from a road. It should also provide a nice sunset view.