Update: Hiking Indiana County (and Beyond)

While I had every intention of updating the blog following each hike I did over the summer, life got in the way.

Murphy and I on the West Penn Trail outside of Saltsburg.

Murphy and I on the West Penn Trail outside of Saltsburg.

I’ve made a dent in the list of trails I was going to hike. You can read about those here.

It amazes me that anyone can spend any of their free time indoors when the area that surrounds us is filled with beautiful parks and trails. Over the course of the past month or so, I’ve seen so much of the natural beauty that Indiana County has to offer — all with my trusty sidekick Murphy by my side.

Being outdoors is the ultimate stress-relief. At least, that’s how it works for me. Nothing eases my mind more than spending a few hours, to an entire day, surrounded by nature.

Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far:

1. Blue Spruce Park. This park will always be one of our favorites. A friend that had grown up in the area introduced me to this park just after I started college, and it soon became the go-to place to read a book, have a cookout with friends or take a long walk around the lake. Can I count it as one of my “hikes” for the summer? Probably not, because we go there so much, but it’s worthy of noting.

2. Buttermilk Falls. Who knew that this gorgeous little park was so close? I sure didn’t. Though the lack of rain made the falls a little, well, wimpy, the park itself was great to explore. In addition to the hike down to the falls itself, there’s a short trail through the woods on the other side of the park.

3. Yellow Creek State Park. Yellow Creek wasn’t on the list of places to visit this summer, although I knew we’d venture out there anyway. The lake itself is 720 acres, surrounded by trails. Though I still need to venture through many more of the trails that Yellow Creek has to offer, we explored a path that, on one side, goes to a spot that we can now say is a new hangout (but don’t tell the park ranger we’ve been swimming there!) and, in the other direction, visits the lake’s dam. A coworker explained how to get to this “secret spot” one day, and we spent that afternoon swimming, grilling in the make-shift fire pit and exploring.

4. Co-op Park. Indiana University of Pennsylvania has a park at the edge of town for its students to visit. It has a pretty intense 5K hiking trail with a lot of steep hills that we hike regularly. On one end of the park is the Co-op Farm, an area where, once upon a time, students were able to rent plots of land to grow their own gardens. Now, the Farm serves as a catch-and-release fishing spot for some locals at its small pond.

5. West Penn Trail. Though I didn’t get to hike the full length of the trail due to time restrictions, we made a short trek on the West Penn Trail earlier this week, briefly crossing the Allegheny River on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. It’s definitely something we’ll be exploring further.

Enjoy the photos from our adventures!

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