Take a Trip Around Lake Arthur on Preston’s Pearl

Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park is one of our favorite outdoor spots in southwest Pennsylvania. It is hard to ask for more than a beautiful lake with a number of fingers and inlets that just beg being explored.

We've featured many ways you can explore the lake including taking out kayaks from Bear Run Campground, standup paddleboarding with SurfSUP Adventures, and even enjoying Moraine State Park's bike trail which runs along the shoreline. But all of these activities required some degree of effort in order to enjoy. For something a bit more leisurely, the park offers boat tours on the resident pontoon boat from late spring to early fall. 

For many years, guests would enjoy the waters via the resident boat Nautical Nature, but in 2021 the Moraine Preservation Fund launched a new pontoon boat that offers 90-minute sightseeing tours, dinner/brunch cruises, and more.

I was fortunate enough to get out on the water for the ship's inaugural sailing as part of a media preview and share more about what you can expect on this one here!

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8 Waterfalls Near Pittsburgh You Must Check Out

With so many rivers, streams, and creeks in and around Pittsburgh, you'd imagine there have to be a few waterfalls- and you'd be right.

The region is home to a significant number of waterfalls worth exploring, but we do have to note a caveat that many are lacking in size compared to falls you'll find in nearby states (the tallest near Pittsburgh is just about 30 feet whereas waterfalls in upstate New York a few hours away can break 200 feet!).

In fact, most of what we'd consider waterfalls here may only be five or six feet in height in total which are notable highlights when exploring a local park, but perhaps not the sole reason you'd visit a specific park on its own. To make matters worse, many of these are also heavily dependent on the rains such that they may just be a trickle during dry spells.

While the latter still affects even our biggest waterfalls, in this guide we wanted to only feature some of the biggest and most inspiring waterfalls near Pittsburgh. But to hit these, you'll have to go on a bit of a drive!

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Hiking Nine Mile Run from Frick Park to Duck Hollow

When thinking of hiking in the East End, odds are good your thoughts will quickly turn to Frick Park– the largest publicly accessible park in Pittsburgh. But there are a few other green spaces off of these main trails that you may not know about, and one of which is Nine Mile Run!

Although Nine Mile Run was technically annexed by Frick Park just a few years ago, this one is often viewed as its own space thanks to its unique position jutting out from the park south towards the Monongahela River (where it later connects up to the slightly longer Duck Hollow Trail that follows the river). Couple an even more recent effort to clean the waters at the run and you have a natural area that is a bit under-the-radar despite being a part of a more-well known city park.

So rather than include this one in our Frick Park article, we thought it'd be best to feature this one on its own!

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Boyce Mayview Park – Numerous Trails Here (So Have a Map Handy)

It took us three tries to properly hike Boyce Mayview Park. 

The first time we went, the access point we selected was overgrown and we had many ticks jump on us (and our dog) in just a few feet. We decided to explore the more accessible northern end of the park during this visit. 

The second time, the road going to the parking area I had intended to visit was closed and the detour to get there was sufficiently long that I gave up (this was on me).

But the third try, I made it, and after exploring this one properly I do have to admit there is a fair amount to see- just be sure to have a map on your phone handy.

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A Brief Visit to Mount Davis – Pennsylvania’s Highest Point

At 3,213 feet, Mount Davis is recognized as the highest point in Pennsylvania. And at just under two hours driving from Pittsburgh, it is an easy day trip to check off this spot from your Pennsylvania bucket list.

But while Mount Davis' claim to fame is its elevation, I have to admit, visting this one may not be exactly what you are envisioning.

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Laurel Summit State Park – Spruce Flats Bog and the Views

Laurel Summit State Park is an interesting one as it is technically only just six acres in size and can be found within Forbes State Forest surrounding it on all sides.

So while all the highlights you may expect to see when visiting this one are technically in Forbes State Forest, they're often described as being part of Laurel Summit State Park thanks to the trailheads mostly being within Laurel Summit. (The state park maps show this as such as well.)

While this is a somewhat odd naming convention, we're sticking with calling the sights as part of Laurel Summit State Park all the same, and there are several interesting things to see here!

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Laurel Hill State Park – One of Our Favorites in the Highlands

When it comes to hiking in the Laurel Highlands, there are a number of parks to choose from. In fact, this region is home to ten state parks and state forests that cover roughly 120,000 acres- and that is not even counting the smaller parks, runs, and green spaces as well.

As such, when we say that Laurel Hill State Park may be our favorite of them all, we say that with some gravity behind it.

This park is simply stunning!

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7 of the Best Places to View Fall Colors in Pittsburgh

Fall is a special time in western Pennsylvania. Our normally green part of the state starts to explode with vibrant colors just about everywhere you look between early-to-mid October and the start of November. 

We'll be upfront in saying that nearly any Pittsburgh park could make for great fall color viewing during this time of the year. But when we get out to chase pretty leaves, we have to admit, we like to go to places that are large and give us a chance to truly explore in the beauty of nature.

Part of this is because color change may be gradual over the various tree types found in any given park- peak color is truly a relative term. But the other part is that when colors are at their peak, we simply want as much as we can get. So the parks we wanted to feature in this fall foliage guide are just that- big parks that tend to be color explosions in the fall!

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Kayaking to Sycamore Island from 10.7 Marina in Verona

We love getting out on the water whenever we can, and one of our preferred methods for doing so is in a kayak. 

There is no shortage of kayak options in the Pittsburgh area, and on a recent outing we took out rentals from 10.7 Marina in Verona to explore the Allegheny River a bit upstream from the city. This made for a great starting point as Verona is a short distance away from Sycamore Island- a green space we've been wanting to check out from years that is only accessible via boat.

So we boarded our kayaks and were off!

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Taking a Bike Ride Along the Lake at Moraine State Park

When we think of Moraine State Park, our first thought often goes to the gorgeous Lake Arthur that can be found right in the heart of the park. If we're not getting out on the lake to go kayak, stand up paddleboard, or simply be on a boat like Preston's Pearl, our next thought is often to hit up one of the many hiking trails along the shoreline.

But did you know that the park is also home to a 7-mile one-way bike trail on the north shore of the lake? We naturally took our bikes up to explore this one and wanted to share a bit about what the ride is like in this one!

Note: Moraine State Park also has a 6-mile mountain biking trail that is a loop. We hope to visit this one shortly; however, this article is only for the paved out-and-back bike trail at this time.

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