Western Pennsylvania is a great place for hiking. There are a variety of landscapes and habitats to explore, many interesting animals to see, and an abundance of trailheads and access points within a short drive of almost anywhere. Very little of Western Pennsylvania, though, is untouched by the over three hundred years of intense human use. Very few places are truly “wild” or “pristine”, but there is still a great deal of beauty and awe inspiring wonder to be found on its rocky ridges and in its wooded valleys.
My family and I have spent the last 25 years exploring and enjoying the hiking trails of Western Pennsylvania. Every hike reveals something new. There are an infinite number of ways to see Nature, and an infinite number of things to see. It is important to try to experience as many as possible in a lifetime.
When we go hiking we carry field guides, notebooks, hand lenses and binoculars. We have pencils and a digital camera at the ready to sketch and note and capture images. We are set to explore the very small and the very distant. Each hike reveals something new and unknown, to be admired and identified. Putting a name on something is a compelling process that connects us not only to the plant or animal but also to those people who came before us and who, often so very long ago, studied and named these species. In the hiking narratives, I have tried to use common names of the plants and animals whenever possible. I wanted to put up as few barriers as possible for the reader. The "Species List" and "Species Pages" provide more detailed information and scientific names.
A place is more than what you see before you. Everyplace has a human history, a “use” history, an ecological history. Everyplace also has a geological history that extends back over time spans about which our biological brains are capable of only dim conception. Whenever relevant, I have tried to include brief stories of the human, ecological, and geological pasts of the places of our hikes. These histories help to connect us to the vast continuities of our species and our planet.
This web site is dedicated to our children, Marian and Joe Hamilton. May they always find beauty and themselves in Nature.
This site is licensed under a Creative Commons license.