Written by Danielle Taylor | Header photo by Kyle Yates

These mountain laurel buds at the Laurel Fields are primed to pop and will blossom into a gorgeous display of blooms. Photo by Danielle Taylor.

The recent viral “Laurel” v. “Yanny” audio clip may have divided the nation, but in Pennsylvania, we’re Team Laurel all the way. The beautiful mountain laurel is Pennsylvania’s state flower, and one of the best places to see it is right here in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. Its first blossoms open in late May and peak bloom usually comes right around Father’s Day, making the next few weeks an excellent time to take a trip here.

As its name suggests, this evergreen shrub thrives on mountain forest slopes, and it grows wild throughout the region along rocky hillsides and scenic roadways. Although its lanky branches and broad, dark leaves can be seen throughout the year, its striking blooms seen in early summer give this plant its celebrity status.

Mountain laurel flowers first appear as small, pink, star-shaped buds, and as they mature and open up into cup-shaped blooms, they lighten to pale pink or white with a dark pink, 10-pointed, star-shaped band at the center of each blossom.

One of the best places to see mountain laurel is the Laurel Fields north of Brookville in Clear Creek State Forest. Here, you can explore acres of blossoms on a 3/4-mile driving loop, which also features an open field with tables and a shelter for a sunny afternoon picnic. The gate to the driving loop is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Each year, Brookville area contestants view for the coveted title of Laurel Pageant Queen.

The weeklong Brookville Laurel Festival occurs the third week of June during the height of mountain laurel season and serves as the town’s most significant summer event. Come join the fun from June 16-24 with events including the Laurel Pageant, Art in the Park, the Laurel 500 Wooden Car Race, Heritage Day, a hotdog-eating contest, a bike race, Hometown Hero Day, and of course the Grand Parade on June 23. Check out the event’s 2018 commercial here, and like their Facebook page for updates.

Learn more and find other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.

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