Written by Danielle Taylor | Header photo by Mountain Man Photography
With five counties, thousands of miles of roads, and more than a million acres of woodland to explore here, the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region is truly a land of endless adventure, and autumn is one of the very best times for a visit. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a fan of the arts, a history buff, or someone who just wants to have fun no matter what you’re doing, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained while you’re visiting this area. We’ve identified 10 of the top adventures you can enjoy here this season and some of the spectacular places where they can be found. Today, check out five more great options for fall adventure, and don’t miss Part One!
Go for a Hike
The region features hundreds of miles of spectacular hiking trails, and with October 2018 being the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, it’s a great time to take a hike.
The North Country National Scenic Trail, one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the nation, passes right through the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region on its journey between North Dakota and the New York/Vermont border. One of the most scenic sections in this area passes through Cook Forest’s awe-inspiring Forest Cathedral, a National Natural Landmark largely considered the best-preserved old-growth forest in the northeastern United States. In addition to Cook Forest, the trail also travels through Foxburg, Clarion, and the Allegheny National Forest on its route here.
The area also features a number of rail-trails, including the Clarion-Little Toby Trail between Ridgway and Brockway, the Rail 66 Country Trail in northern Clarion County, the Redbank Valley Trail between Brookville and East Brady, the Mahoning Shadow Trail from Punxsutawney to Valier, and the West Creek Trail from St. Marys to Emporium. These trails follow historic rail lines, and many feature relics of their industrial past.
Enjoy the Arts
The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region offers numerous unique outlets for the performing and visual arts, and you have many opportunities to enjoy their talents this autumn season.
The University Art Galleries of Clarion University are hosting a free gallery showing of photographer Maranie Rae’s powerful images from the Zaatari Refugee Camp, a Syrian refugee camp in the Jordanian desert. Fans of abstract and conceptual art won’t want to miss the Object/Ogetto Exhibition going on now through November 11 at the Red Brick Gallery in Foxburg. This exhibition examines the interpretation and representation of the object in contemporary art.
Nearby, Clarion Community Theater is holding a series of performances of “Stay As Dead As You Are,” an 80’s themed murder mystery dinner, at the American Legion in Knox. Join in on the Haldeman High Class of 1988 reunion and help solve the heinous “yard jart” incident! Performances are October 26, 27, 28, November 9, 10, and 11.
Find Your Favorite Flavors
The Uncork the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Wine Trail highlights a wide range of wineries, breweries, and moonshine distilleries in this always-surprising region, and at these, you can sample many of the area’s sweet and savory flavors. Foodies will also find plenty to please their palates; from fine dining to BBQ to monstrously huge hamburgers, the variety found here ensures everyone will find something they love.
Several venues here, such as Deer Creek Winery in Shippenville, feature live music on the weekends, while others offer regular food and drink specials to make trying something new even more affordable. The Appalachian tradition of moonshining is now legal in Pennsylvania, and you can imbibe in the homespun fun at Blackbird Distillery in Brookville or the brand-new Chicken Hill Distillery in Kersey.
Brookville has several lip-smacking events you won’t want to miss this season. On November 17, check out the Cork & Fork event at Laurelbrooke Landing from 2-6 p.m., which features a food, beer, and wine walk as well as a silent auction, wine pull, and more. Then from 6-10 p.m., continue your tasting tour on the Brookville Wing Fling, where a bus will take you to several area restaurants for wing tastings. Come back on December 1 for the Brookville Wine Walk, held during Brookville’s popular Victorian Christmas weekend.
Finally, if you’d like to partake in a delicious Thanksgiving feast without all the work and enjoy a luxury getaway beneath the trees, check out Gateway Lodge’s Thanksgiving Midweek Retreat from November 21-23. Packages include two restful nights in a suite, breakfast each morning, and a buffet on Thanksgiving Day.
Learn Something New
The region offers multiple opportunities for you to learn about the natural world, and you’re sure to find something to interest you and your family. Peirce Planetarium at Clarion University holds regular programs that explore astronomy and the mythology of the stars, and upcoming dates include October 18, 25, November 1, 8, 15, and 29. The school’s College of Business Administration and Information Sciences holds its annual Reed Lecture series on October 25, when 2006 graduate Mark Tarkanick will talk about how he worked his way up in the marketing world. The lecture is free and open to the public.
In Punxsutawney, the Weather Discovery Center makes learning about meteorology fun for kids of all ages. In Benezette, the experts at the Elk Country Visitor Center give lessons on everything from animal scat and track identification to compass navigation, and the Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park offers similar programs and educational exhibits.
Just north of Brookville, Quiet Creek Herb Farm and School of Country Living holds workshops on topics ranging from mushroom growing to solar panel installation. Over the next few weeks, workshops include herbal soap making on October 26 and November 2 and hi tunnel growing on November 8.
Drive the Back Roads
Endless miles of country roads beckon drivers here, and you’re likely to find a number of surprising discoveries as you go. One of the most popular places to take a ride is River Road along the Clarion River in Cook Forest. Historical markers and relics abound alongside the roads here, and you may come across intriguing roadside attractions like the charming Tionesta Market Village, a collection of miniature 1800s-style storefronts. Check out the Christmas in the Village event on November 3, which will feature live entertainment, a visitor from the North Pole, and a variety of food and drink tastings in addition to a quaint shopping opportunity. To get a good introduction to many of the scenic roads in this area, call (814) 849-5197 or go to our Free Information page to request a copy of your own Biker’s Ride Guide, or download it here.
Furthermore, the region boasts some of the darkest skies in the eastern United States, particularly in Cameron, Forest, and Elk Counties, so with the right conditions, a nighttime drive will reveal more stars than you can imagine.
Stay tuned to our event calendar for updates! For tips on more exciting things to do and places to go throughout the always intriguing Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region, check out VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197.