The Oldest Guy by Pat McCloskey

The Oldest Guy

by patmccloskey


” Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming,” Wow! WHAT A RIDE!”

-Hunter S. Thompson

I have also heard this with the ending, ” missing parts, leaking oil and screaming “Geronimo.” I always subscribe to this way of living because I like adventure, travel and experiences in my own way. However, due to a series of events recently, I have had some thoughts that question my verve. Some of this began a couple of weeks ago when I was discovering that I was the oldest guy on the mountain bike rides. I really should not let that bother me but with the death of my brother in law at 61, and some other news of contemporaries who have had their troubles, I began to question my lifestyle as I march quickly towards 63. Sometimes, I feel like I am in an out of control vehicle and can’t stand on the brakes hard enough. Life is screaming by.

Then God plops me down right in the middle of Somerset county in an old barn for Biff Swager’s 65th birthday party( Is that the greatest name in the world?……Biff Swager!!!). Biff’s wonderful wife Annie organized the surprise party and all the old ski crowd came out in force. The food was wonderful, the band was GREAT, and the group danced their asses off( no other good way to put it), yes they danced their asses off and the joy of life was in full swing. Sue Baum Treacy summed it up best when she marveled at the group and vowed that we all have to get together this winter and ski because that is what brought us all together as kids in the first place. She and her husband John walk the walk by recently retiring and hopping on the back of their motorcycle, touring the west.

So, that was a real shot in the arm and dispelled any thoughts about age when I saw my group of contemporaries really enjoying each other’s company and killing it on the dance floor- of an old barn. Even Herman Dupre who is in his 80s, said he has so much work to do, he wants to live until he is 124. His wife Sis said “I will give him 100 from me and that is it.” We all laughed and as I drove off into the night, I thought what a great group and a great reason to keep living life as large as possible. You don’t have to climb Everest or do something outrageous to be adventurous. For me, taking that first ski turn down a chute out West, or rolling over a giant boulder field in West Virginia on the MTB is adventurous. Just have a positive attitude and engage in new ventures. The joy of a bike ride in cool fall weather can garner the same feeling of adventure that Jimmy Chin feels on a mountain peak. Not as dramatic, not as bold, but still relatively speaking, a personal adventure. Do what you can but like NIKE says…………just do it!!!

I remember asking Scot Nicol, the founder of IBIS Bicycles, one time on a ride,” how long do you think we can keep riding mountain bikes like this Scot?” He looked at me and said, ” Pat- don’t even think about it. Just keep riding.” This is sage advice from a Californian who really enjoys what he does. But what else dispels those internal thoughts that say, ” you are 63- who are you kidding?” Besides the joy of a ski turn and the beauty of the mountains, and the fitness created by riding a mountain bike, there are things that define self worth. The love of a spouse, the caring for friends, volunteering, being there for a cause, and spreading the good word of the Kingdom. True self worth is nothing more that knowing you are loved by the Good Lord. We are so blessed. It is incumbent upon all of us to care for each other, one person at a time, one neighborhood at a time. Make the effort folks, because as I have recently seen, life is fragile and we need to make the most of every moment. The time that is spent with your family and friends is so valuable. Sometimes you don’t realize it until someone is gone.

I know where I am going someday. But in the mean time, I will definitely leak oil, skid broadside in a cloud of smoke, and live life with that promise ahead of me. Who cares if I am the oldest guy? Thanks for reading.



The Bike and Box Turtle by Pat McClosky

So, I am pounding up the Bathtub Trail, kind of clearing my head on a solo mountain bike ride this week and I come upon a box turtle right in the middle of the trail. I did something unusual- I stopped. I checked him out and marveled at the way the color of his shell blended in with the rapidly changing leaves all around me. I looked at the texture of his shell and thought to myself, what a wonderful Creator who weaved this beautiful ecosystem we have to enjoy right in my own county park. As I made my way up the trail, I noticed the diversity of the leaves that were beginning to cover the ground. Flaming red maple leaves, brilliant yellow oak leaves, multicolored ash, chestnut, and other species of deciduous trees that spread their foliage like a patchwork blanket before me. Fall has arrived and I am contentedly happy.

Usually I try to ride for a good workout and push myself, even on solo rides. But this day was reserved for more pleasant riding, kind of like mobilized hiking enjoying the natural world all around me. At this time of year, the trails are usually dry and you can pretty much ride as fast as you can and feel “in the zone” as you rail the corners and pound up the hills. This is the time when most of us are in peak shape and the euphoria that you feel after a fast paced ride is intoxicating. But, there are days in the fall when I like to just ride the bike for relaxed transportation in a world that is peaceful, welcoming, and shelters you from the pressures of the real world. The changing leaves are all around and along with the shorter evenings, the cooler temperatures, and the smell of the tannin in the leaves displays something that Western Pa. has in it’s bag of tricks to entice travelers and natives alike. If you are out in it, close your eyes and take a deep breath of that musty, woodsy, cool air into your lungs. Only at this time of year does it smell like that. Summer fragrances, winter blasts of cold air,spring evening smells, are all good eye closing intakes, but the fall air is the best.

The mountain trails in our Laurel Highlands are coming alive with color, and arm warmers, vests, tights, are all practical wear as the cooler temperatures welcome in the coming winter season.

But back to the box turtle. Instead of using him as a speed bump, I took the time to examine him and notice how he fits in. The diversity of the changing flora seem to welcome him as part of their patchwork of color. The buck are starting to surface and as they stare at you with their fully grown racks, they are part of this diversified animal kingdom that makes up the forest in the mountains and parks of Western Pa. Turkey, grouse, groundhogs, raccoons, birds of all species, including the majestic osprey and red tail hawk, are busy preparing for the long winter ahead. Bald eagles are visible in the mountains and their wingspans continually amaze me as I stop to take in their flight pattern in the ridges to the east. I see open chestnut pods releasing their treasure to the scurrying squirrels and chipmunks. Acorns,and seeds of all kinds are being scooped up by very busy little rodents who take great chances using the trails full of hikers and mountain bikers. The come perilously close to losing their life as they dodge the knobby tires of the many bikes on the trails.

But as my mind wandered, I thought about how all of this fits together. The trees, the leaves, the animals, all form the ecosystem that we call the forest. As I ride along, not in anaerobic debt, I take in the smells, the sounds, and the sights of a changing natural world. Yet it is one entity created out of a patchwork of diversity. Kind of makes you think doesn’t it? Enjoy the fall. Thanks for reading.

patmccloskey | September 28, 2017 at 11:41 am | Tags: Laurel Highlands | Categories: American Culture, Bicycling, Culture, Cycling, Diversity, Environment, Faith, Inspiration, Mountain Biking, outdoor activities, outdoor sports, Outdoors, recreation, trails | URL:

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A Natural Cause by Pat McCloskey

Go to Pat’s blog for the story with photos
A Natural Cause
by patmccloskey

A number of years ago, my wife Janet and I were strolling through Sausalito, California when we came upon a gallery featuring the art works of Grace Slick. Now, I was a huge fan of the Jefferson Airplane when I was younger and Grace fronted the band with her sultry yet powerful voice. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she was also a very talented painter held in great esteem in the Bay Area. People surprise you. Not that you think they are not capable, but it is a pleasant surprise to see folks from one genre of accomplishment, move into another with relative ease. Case in point- my friend Angelo Ross.
I first met Angelo while we both were ski instructors and he was making his way up the PSIA ladder to his current position as a Development Team member of the Educational Staff. Angelo always took ski instruction seriously along with his main line of work as an Environmental Science teacher at Greensburg Salem High School here in Western Pa. I also ride mountain bikes with Angelo and on a recent trip to West Virginia, he told me about yet another passion that has turned into a very interesting business.
You see, Angelo is a talented artist whose work has developed over the years and now is featured on athletic and casual wear.
The story goes that Angelo became acquainted with the equally talented folks at Commonwealth Press in Pittsburgh who saw the value of his work and mentioned to him that they should begin the process of marketing Angelo’s art work on casual and athletic wear. Thus was the birth of One of the interesting things about this is that Angelo is marketing his art work through the medium of clothing, but he has another cause in mind besides pure mercantilism. You see, he lives Environmental Science – his passion, and therefore is dedicated to furthering the goals of local environmental causes like the Youghiogheny Defense Fund. This is part of the Mountain Watershed Project which preserves the environmental integrity of the Youghiogheny River among other waterways in our region. Whitewater rafting and fishing are prominent in these waterways and Angelo is dedicated to preserving these for generations to come. A portion of all proceeds that he generates through Natural Cause goes to organizations like these. Another cause for his generosity and passion is the Mt. Davis Challenge bicycle race, run in conjunction with the Confluence Tourism Association which promotes recreational activity in the Laurel Highlands. Jim Sota runs the event and it has been a successful race for many years. Angelo supports the cause. The man walks the walk and does not just talk the talk.
I am continually amazed by people. You know them through one area of your life and then you realize that there is much more to this person than you thought. People have abilities that cross over in their lives and it is refreshing to see that a young guy who you know from skiing and mountain biking has such a passion and such a talent and that he is creative enough to market it and donate to causes that reflect his passion.
I love hearing the stories like Natural Cause. I like to hear how they were created and how the business is doing. There is a lot of negativity swirling around these days and I make it my business to always be positive and encouraging. It is great when I see positive attitude and generosity come from others like Angelo. Natural Cause is a breath of fresh air to our local environmental causes and I hope that you all will go to his website, view Angelo’s art work, and order some product. You can wear it with pride knowing that your money has been well spent and that the beneficiary of your generosity are the watersheds, trails, and events that make our region so special. Well done Angelo Ross!!! Thanks for reading.
patmccloskey | July 27, 2017 at 11:59 am | Tags: Mt. Davis Challenge,,, Youghiogheny River | Categories: American Culture, Art, Bicycling, Culture, Cycling, Education, Environment, Friendship, Hobbies, Inspiration, Mountain Biking, outdoor activities, outdoor sports, Outdoors, Pittsburgh, recreation, trails | URL:


Family Fun at our Local State Parks Feb 19-21

Family Fun at our Local State Parks Feb 19-21

If you are looking for something different to do consider visiting Laurel Hill, Laurel Ridge, or Kooser State Parks over the weekend of the 19th to the 21st! Activities may include horse drawn sleigh rides, hillbilly curling, sled dog demonstrations, live music, snowman/snow sculpture contest, and outhouse dash, guided cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (equipment available), sledding under the lights and more! 814-445-7725


Trillium Time!

For those of you who follow our BLOG you know how much we love the Indian Creek Valley (ICV) Bike and Hike Trail. Most of you will easily find it because it is located across from the Somerset Trust Bank on County Line Road (Please, only use their parking when they are closed). Although there are multiple sections with each one having its own unique characteristics, including FLOWERS! One of our personal favorites is the Trillium and this weekend they will be blooming for all to see! Check out the ICV website!



Back on the Road Again

Enjoy the Ride

by Pat McCloskey

It is mud season now. April showers bring May flowers but for mountain bikers, it is a time for us to wait until the trails are dry so we don’t trash them for the rest of the summer. I bring out my road bike and begin the long process of trying to get in shape after a winter of maintenance trail running, snowshoeing and skiing. I can always ride in the rain on the road bike because I am used to the drill. If you don’t ride in the rain in Pittsburgh, you don’t ride much in the spring. Trust me, as I get older, the process gets a little harder but I am dealing with it in a more mature way which I will discuss in a short. Suffice to say, I don’t blast out of the parking lot these days. I ease on down the road. As I meander on the country roads north of my house, I think back to the painful rides at this time of the year when I raced a road bike. It was always a chore to try to get in shape so that you didn’t get dropped on a training ride or in a race. You had to scramble just to be able to ride with your friends. As I daydream on my current rides, I think back to when I used to meet Art Bonavoglia, Frank Habay, and George Sagan up on Saxonburg Boulevard waiting for a crew to come up out of Shadyside in Pittsburgh. I slowly dragged my sorry butt out of bed and made my way to the meeting point where George, Art, Frank and I waited for the freight train that was coming. Scott Dismukes, a former track cyclist- strong as hell, Bob Gottlieb- Cat 2 rider of local fame, Barb Katzenburg-national class road racer, and Mike Alex- PHD candidate in Electrical Engineering at CMU riding a mountain bike with slick tires. These guys could ride and when they came roaring up the road, you better be warmed up and ready to jump on the pace line or you were history. I would see them in the distance and sigh to my friends,” Here they come.” The pain began. The destination was always Lake Arthur up in Butler County. These are beautiful country roads here in Pennsylvania but all I saw on those rides was the backside of someone faster than me in the paceline. As we exchanged pulls, ( mine were always the shortest), we made our way through pastoral fields and dairy farms. Virtually no traffic which made the ride as pleasant as it could be but the pace increased with each country mile. By the time I got to Prospect, Pa with a stop at the country store to reload on food, I was exhausted. I can remember laying on the sidewalk jamming Fig Newtons in my face and washing it down with Gatorade as fast as I could swallow. I looked at Mike Alex and said,” How the hell do you ride that fast on a mountain bike?” He said the slick tires helped but he was only being humble. I looked at Art, Frank and George and said, ” How am I going to make it back?” But I always managed it somehow. Fig Newtons and bananas were the Cliff Bars and Power Bars of the day. That type of energy food was not available yet. The Newtons and the bananas generally did the trick but when I pulled into my townhouse I was totally gassed. The killer crew left me and roared back to Shadyside logging in excess of 100 miles.

As I come back from my daydream on my road rides now, I am usually alone. I think back to that far away time in a galaxy far, far away. Painful spring rides, wool jerseys, leather hair nets, toe clips and cleats, downtube shifters, and steel road frames. Today I ease into my spring road rides. The equipment is lighter, smoother shifting, and carbon fiber rides a lot more comfortable than Reynolds tubing, although there is something to be said for the classic steel frame. I don’t stress myself. I don’t need to train. If a hill comes, I shift down and noodle up until I reach the top. I don’t have to do what Mac Martin used to tell me. ” Take it out of park McCloskey, and when you reach the top of the hill, don’t just coast- put the hammer down because your competition will be coasting behind you.” I don’t need that pain anymore as the 60 year old kid. My road rides now are enjoyable. I can look at the spring blossoms, ride in the softly falling rain, and really……enjoy the ride. I mostly mountain bike these days but I must admit that I look forward to bringing out the road bike in the spring. It reminds me of my past and I definitely don’t have the pain that I used to go through at this time of year. Like life- I am now enjoying the ride. I see flowers, trees, farms, and sights other than the back of some guys lycra shorts. Haul that road bike out guys and gals, let the trails dry out. Thanks for reading.


Stoneycreek Rendezvous Whitewater Festival

Stonycreek Rendezvous,

Kiski-Conemaugh Sojourn

The Stonycreek Rendezvous will be held May 15-17 based at Greenhouse Park in Somerset County. The Rendezvous has become one of the biggest whitewater festivals in the country.

A water release is planned all three days to assure adequate flow through the Stonycreek Canyon (Class III-IV whitewater).  If flows are high enough, six other streams in the area offer Class II to V whitewater.  The festival also features food, music, beer, camping, a whitewater rodeo, races and more.  On the web:

The Kiski-Conemaugh Sojourn will be held June 4-7.  The schedule: Thursday, Johnstown to Seward through Conemaugh Gap, 15 miles, mostly flat paddling with a few Class I or II ripples; Friday, Robinson to Blairsville through Packsaddle Gap, 10 miles, mostly flat paddling with a few Class I or II ripples; Saturday, Conemaugh Dam to Avonmore with stop in Saltsburg, 12 miles, flat paddling; Sunday, Avonmore to Roaring Run; 7 miles, mostly flat paddling. See



We’ve shared how much we love the Indian Creek Valley Trail (ICV Trial)  just across the Somerset Trust bank on County Line Road for hiking, biking, and flowers.  This week while checking out the banks of BLOOMING white trillium and looking for the rare red and pink ones, Wags came across a whole bed of the red ones!   We did some research on Google and found a link for some more details on these stunning flowers! They may be found by walking from the trail across from the bank OR from starting at Dipola Lane and walking towards the bank. Right after the big fallen tree on the trail look over the left or west bank towards Indian Creek and that’s where you will see them! This is the biggest bed of solid red trillium we have ever seen. Enjoy.


Lifestyles Map in Information Tab

Laurel Highlands Living has a activities and life style mapping feature on the activities page in the Information Tab. This map uses google maps for its backdrop and adds local dining, activities, entertainment, and attractions. The default map opens with these amenities already loaded, but users can expand the map to included information about schools, zip codes, shopping, and much more. Any vendor who would like to be on this map and is not can enter their information on, the source for the activities information.
[spatialmatch_map id=1 width=100% height=650]


Bridge open on the Laurel Highlands Trail

This is a repost of a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Bridge is back on Laurel Highlands trail

Sunday, February 05, 2012
By Shannon M. Nass, Special to the Post-Gazette
Bridge spanning the Pennsylvania Turnpike on  the Laurel Highlands Trail.

 Outdoor enthusiasts who traverse the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail are  hiking, skiing and snowmobiling for joy. They are celebrating the Jan. 28  completion of a new bridge that spans the Pennsylvania Turnpike and rejoins the  70-mile trail stretching along Laurel Mountain from the Youghiogheny River at  Ohiopyle to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown.

Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the Department of Conservation and  Natural Resources (DCNR), said the bridge has been long-awaited and much  anticipated by those who traverse the trail.

“They love it,” he said. “It’s a very, very popular trail … through the  heart of some of our prettiest of state park and state forest land in that  area.”

The bridge project was awarded last March and totaled nearly $1.3 million for  work on the 10-foot-wide, 184-foot-long span.

The previous structure had been built in 1970 but was closed in late 2009 and  dismantled after an inspection found conditions that could endanger hikers and  snowmobilers using the bridge, as well as commuters passing beneath.

“It was in really bad shape both for the users of the bridge and passersby on  the turnpike,” Brady said. “It was starting to literally fall apart.”

The new bridge, located midway between the turnpike’s Somerset and Donegal  interchanges between mileposts 36 and 37, reconnects various trail systems in  the Laurel Highlands and facilitates foot traffic as well as snowmobilers and  cross-country skiers.

Bicycles and horses remain prohibited from the trail. Brady said all-terrain  vehicles also are not allowed on the bridge.

“What it won’t allow to cross — the way it’s designed — is ATVs,” said  Brady. “The trail is off-limits to ATVs, and we don’t want ATVs using [the  bridge].”

To ensure their exclusion, Brady said the bridge was designed with a  step-down ledge that prevents them from crossing.

With through passage again possible, Brady said he hopes the bridge, which is  owned by the Bureau of State Parks, will encourage more people to get out and  use the trail.

“That trail is just incredible,” he said. “The idea is just to get people  out, especially during nice weather.”

First published on February 5, 2012 at 12:00  am

Read more:


Laurel Highlands Trail Bridge to open in January

This is a repost of a recent Daily American Article
VICKI ROCK Daily American Staff Writer

Two years ago the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Bridge was closed because an inspection found major structural deficiencies.

The old bridge, built in 1970, was demolished. Now a replacement bridge is scheduled to be opened to recreational use on Jan. 6. A dedication ceremony will be scheduled for the spring.

The bridge spans the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Somerset and Donegal interchanges. It connects the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, a 70-mile corridor running north and south through state parklands and the Forbes State Forest. The Bureau of State Parks owns the bridge.

“The removal of the old bridge cut the Laurel Highlands trail in half,” said Mike Mumau, Laurel Hill State Park complex manager. “It also cut the multi-use trail system in Forbes State Forest — about 120 miles of connected trails — in half.”

People who use snowmobiles or mountain bikes could only use half of the trail. There was a six-mile detour for hikers on township roads and forestry roads.

Mosites Construction Co. of Pittsburgh was awarded the contract of $1,297,060.  It was funded by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The final work to be done includes installation of a protective cage over the bridge, installation of right of way fencing and trail gates and the final seeding and landscaping.

“People miss the bridge,” Mumau said. “It is arguably the most vital trail connection in Pennsylvania. It is a major link between the hiking trail and the multi-use systems that allow hiking, snowmobiling and equestrian use. It’s one of the main bridges in the system.”

Because the bridge was demolished, that gave park managers a chance to re-evaluate their plans, and they will now allow equestrians on the new larger, wider bridge in addition to hikers, mountain bikers and snowmobilers.

“It makes sense to work with our sister bureau, forestry, because mountain bikers and equestrians use the Forbes State Forest trails on both sides of the bridge,” he said. “Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is still for foot traffic only. The signage directs people to the multi-use trails.”

Ed Callahan, district forester, Forbes State Forest, said there are some adventurous people who use the entire 120-mile Forbes trail system, which is near Route 30.

“When people want a long ride, this is it,” he said. “I know the snowmobilers especially will be glad to hear the bridge is opening. Not having a bridge cut the trail in half. This is a big deal for us.”

Another problem for the Forbes system was that the old bridge was too narrow for the snow grooming equipment to cross. The new bridge is wide enough.

“It is a nice, stunning bridge,” Mumau said. “Mosites Construction has done an outstanding job on this project and we are very pleased with it. This project moved very quickly. We’re excited it’s being opened for recreational groups. We look forward to it being in place for many years to come.”


Copyright © 2011, Daily American




Fall Foliage Peak is Here NOW in the Laurel Highlands PA

Repost from the Somerset Daily American.
Article written by Ralph Couey

7:10 p.m. EDT, October 14, 2011
After 11 long months of waiting, October, my favorite month, has finally arrived.

I’ve written a lot about my love of autumn, maybe too much. But I can’t help myself. I love forests, but when the chlorophyll is withdrawn from the leaves and their natural colors reveal themselves, a dormant part of myself comes alive.

It is the month I actually make time to spend in the woods, camera in hand, or winding along the roads through these mountains trying to capture forever these all-too-ephemeral days.

We are so very fortunate to be in an area that rarely disappoints us leaf hunters. Vermont and New Hampshire may boast and brag, but the Laurel Highlands is truly a fall foliage paradise.

We live in what is called “Fall Zone 2” a…well…tree-shaped area of Pennsylvania. The roots and trunk start in the east in Pike, Monroe, and Northampton counties and runs west as far as Centre County where it “branches” northwest to Erie and southwest to Fulton, engulfing the rest of the western half of Pennsylvania. As far as I can determine according to several authoritative websites, the peak of these counties should arrive this weekend.

The warm summer and abundant (in some cases over-abundant) rainfall, along with the prompt arrival of cool weather has provided the set-up for what I’m told should be one of the most spectacular years in recent memory.

The great thing about living in the Laurel Highlands is that you don’t have to go far at all for spectacular vistas. For some, all that will be required is a glance outside the kitchen window.

I’ve found a few favorite places to go to absorb Fall’s karma. One of my favorites is the drive (or ride for us motorcyclists) along Route 381 from US 30 running south past Ohiopyle to the National Pike, US 40. Another favorite is the heavily forested Route 31 between Bakersville and Laurelville. For a short jaunt, I take Trent Road south from Route 31, through Laurel Hill State Park, to the Copper Kettle Highway/County Line Road past Seven Springs to Champion.

Another great drive is Route 271 from Westmont over Laurel Mountain to Ligonier, then going west on 30 through the Loyalhanna Gorge. It’s so pretty, I have to do it twice. Mt. Davis Road around High Point Lake provides some beautiful vistas as does Route 56 through the Conemaugh River Gorge northwest of Johnstown. There’s also US 219 from Somerset through Berlin and Meyersdale, leading to the Maryland border.

Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, is highly recommended, essentially running from the Loyalhanna Gorge all the way to Gettysburg. An area I found last year is along Old Forbes Road, starting just east of Stoystown and going to Ridge Road, which takes you back to the Lincoln Highway.

These are few of my favorites, but I’m sure everyone reading this has found their very own autumn nirvana, which is one of the many benefits to living around here. The challenge, of course is to do this safely, ensuring I don’t drive off the road or into the oncoming lane while rubbernecking at the leaves.

You don’t even have to be in a car, for that matter. The Laurel Highlands has an abundance of forest trails, including the 70-mile-long Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, for both casual strollers and hard-core hikers that will take you through the hills amongst the glowing trees. There, of course, you get to enjoy that unique fall aroma of the leaves, and that soul-satisfying experience of swishing through them while walking along.

I particularly enjoy the two-mile path that leads to the Allegheny Portage Tunnel near Mineral Point. You walk in the darkness of that 900-foot tunnel and suddenly a hillside lit up in reds and golds appears at your feet. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Words are my tools, my toys, my playground. But even after years of effort, I have been unable to fully articulate the miraculous joy that I feel on an autumn day. The bright sunlight, cool air, and the glorious colors in the trees combine to create in me an inexpressible happiness.

This is a busy time of year, especially for families. But try to find the time in that short span of time when the leaves are peaking to take a drive, take a ride, or take a walk somewhere. It’ll be a memory you’ll treasure forever.

Oh, and don’t forget your camera!


Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Newsletter

This is a repost of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative and is their content. Credit also goes to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Please support these important organizations.

Articles in this issue
Register Now for Laurel Highlands Summit
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Bridge on track
Stony a close 2nd; valve dedication set
Rails to Trails Sojourn coming to Highlands
DEP’s latest Growing Greener grants
Projects advance, Boat Commission sets sessions

About the CLI

The Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) is a partnership that strives to raise the region’s quality of life while crafting a model of sustainable development tied to the natural and cultural assets of the region. The initiative connects communities and partners in the area with state agencies and funding partners to conserve and protect the high quality assets and enhance the region’s economic viability.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has created seven CLIs. Pennsylvania Environmental Council is proud to serve as lead external partner to the Laurel Highlands CLI.

Laurel Highlands CLI
Laurel Highlands e-blast update Vol. 3 No. 1

Register NOW for April 4 Laurel Highlands Summit

Advance your knowledge about trail development, conservation, capacity building, funding opportunities in the new era, and the economic benefits of trails, conservation, recreation and tourism at the second Summit of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.

The Summit begins with registration from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on Monday, April 4, and continues until 4 p.m. at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

The incoming secretaries of DCNR, DEP and PennDOT are being invited to speak and another keynote speaker will be Todd Poole, principal of 4ward Planning, an economist who has been involved in economic impact studies across Pennsylvania who compares the economic benefits of development versus open space.

Please see for an overview and links to the full schedule and registration information. You may need to copy and past that web address rather than just click on it.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge on track

news on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge-replacement project: Funds are in place and bids will be opened on March 10 to replace the structure over the Pennsylvania Turnpike. DCNR was forced the remove the bridge last year when serious structural issues were identified that could risk the safety of Turnpike travelers.

Project updates are available by calling (814) 445-7725.

This critical project will not only re-connect the LHHT but also open access to the multi-use trail system for snowmobile, equestrian and mountain-bike users at Forbes State Forest.

Stonycreek close 2nd for River of Year; valve dedication set

Lined up for Rendezvous Rodeo
The Stonycreek River finished only 216 votes short of the Delaware River in public voting for River of the Year.
Mike Quinn of the Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative helped to publicize the Stony’s nomination and said, “Congratulations to them. But considering that the Delaware folks had a significantly larger population base from which to solicit votes, I think the Stony’s finish says volumes about the high level of support for your efforts to make the Stony environmentally safe and a recreation destination.”

The release valve recently installed in Quemahoning Dam to provide water for whitewater boating will be dedicated Friday, May 13, to open the three-day Stonycreek Rendezvous. The Rendezvous typically attracts 800 to 1,000 whitewater enthusiasts from across Wisconsin to Florida but historically has been run in April when the water is often icy cold. With additional water from the Que, the Stonycreek will be boatable on every other weekend into October provided sufficient water is available in the dam pool.

Rails to Trails Sojourn coming to Highlands

The 9th Annual Greenway Sojourn of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) will be held July 19-24 on trails that are in or border the Laurel Highlands. Almost 2,500 people, representing every state in the country, have participated in these memorable bicycle rides, experiencing the joys and benefits of rail-trails and the communities that support them.

The 2011 Sojourn will focus on the Ghost Town, West Penn and Hoodelbug trails in Cambria, Indiana and Westmoreland counties, and an optional day will feature the Path of the Flood Trail in near Johnstown in Cambria County. See

Tom Sexton, director of RTC’s Northeast Regional Office, said, “Bringing the Greenway Sojourn to the region will show business and government leaders that an investment in trails is worthwhile. Last year, our 300 riders spent over $200,000 along the corridor they biked just that week.”

DEP’s latest Growing Greener grants

DEP has announced its latest round of Growing Greener grants – a much lesser amount than in previous years because of expiring and diverted program funds. The grants approved included:
 Mountain Watershed Association, $179,510 for operation, maintenance and replacement plan for its watershed restoration projects in Donegal, Saltlick and Springfield townships.
 Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, $38,515 for watershed monitoring of the Conemaugh and tributaries.
 Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, $110,800 for streambank stabilization and the UNT 2 abandoned-mine discharge treatment project.
 Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, $216,000 to restore Hypocrite Creek, a tributary to Loyalhanna Creek.
 Westmoreland Conservation District, $97,590 for stormwater retrofits at an industrial parks.

Regional projects funded include $130,000 for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Drainage and $236,000 for Trout Unlimited for AMD assistance, $116,883 for Pennsylvania Environmental Council stormwater and green infrastructure assistance, and $79,591 for Stream Restoration, Inc., to maintain Datashed, a web-based data-management tool for watersheds.
All four counties in the Laurel Highlands adopted resolutions supporting Renew Growing Greener!

Projects advance; Boat Commission sets sessions
Lincoln Highway State Heritage Corridor has selected Smeltzer Construction of Apollo, PA, to restore two historic diners to museum standards inside the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum. The contract includes restoration of one an 1938 tourist cabin.

AMTRAK work in Connellsville

A new AMTRAK station is under construction in Connellsville. A temporary station is in place and will be removed once the new station opens. Much concrete work is being done now, mostly for the platform area around the new station.

Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority has “purchased” the right of way of the former Johnstown and Stonycreek Railroad from the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority for $1. Two sections of the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail have been completed in the City of Johnstown and will be connected using this ROW to make a 3.5-mile trail through the community.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has scheduled public meetings to receive comments about the agency’s draft river management plans for the Ohio and other major water basins. Based on factors affecting the rivers’ biological health, PFBC biologists will prioritize fisheries-management needs. Sessions are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 19 at Doubletree Hotel, Monroeville, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Conference Rooms 301 and 302, Stover Campus Center, Waynesburg University, Waynesburg. See


DCNR funds Laurel Highlands Hiking trail bridge

DCNR has found funding internally to build a new bridge for the Lauren Highlands Hiking Trail over the Pennsylvania Turnpike. the bridge crosses the Turnpike between the Donegal and Somerset exits. With the bridge down hikers had to take about a 6 mile detour and the bridge is essential for connecting the northern and southern sections of the snowmobile system.
The old bridge was removed earlier this year when it was found to be structurally deficient. The new bridge, projected to cost more than $1 million, is in the final stages of design. Construction is expected to happen in 2011.
DCNR has also allocated $6.5 million to renovate Laurel Mountain Ski Resort but the work will not be done in time for skiing this winter. Seven Springs has an agreement to operate the resort in Laurel Mountain State Park.
More on these events as we get updates.


Trail Maintenance June 19

In support of the Laurel Mountain Volunteer Group’s (LMVG) first of three 2010 trail care days, PTAG (Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group) will be hosting a “Laurel Mountain Work and Roll Weekend”, June 19-20th, 2010.

This is a great opportunity for everyone who enjoys the beautiful trails at Laurel Mountain to kick something back, break a sweat and make the trails even better and more enjoyable!

After a hard day’s work, PTAG will be providing cold, tasty, FREE Penn Brewery Craft beer!

The DCNR will be providing FREE camping on Laurel Mountain Saturday night!

On Sunday we FREE-ride and enjoy the fruits of our labor!

* When: Saturday, June 19th – Sunday, June 20th

* Work: Saturday, 9:30am – 2:30pm. Meet at the Warming Hut parking lot on Summit Road near the entrance to the Laurel Mt. Ski Resort.

* Camp: The DCNR has generously granted us permission to camp over for free Saturday night. PTAG will be providing free beer after Saturday’s work session at the camp area. BYO Everything. Bring telescopes too as this site offers a tremendous skyline view. Camping will be located at “Motorized Site #1. Directions:

* Ride: Sunday, 10am. Both brisk and casual-paced rides will be offered with multiple bail points. Everyone rides!

For additional information contact:, 724 433 4486


All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Copyright 2019.

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