4 Parks, Trails and Green Spaces to Explore for Natural Adventures
For your first stop head to the Linesville Spillway on the Pymatuning Reservoir. It’s the perfect spot to pack a car picnic and enjoy the view.
The Linesville Spillway area is known for fantastic bird watching opportunities, partially because of all the fish that live in the reservoir. There are so many that it’s known as the place where “the ducks walk on fish.”
Pymatuning State Park is the only place in the State of Pennsylvania where bald eagles have nested continuously, so keep an eye out while you explore. Though I didn’t find any bald eagles, I did see ospreys, great blue herons, catbirds, canada geese, ducks and more!
Another thing you don’t want to miss? The incredible sunsets. Here’s my view from the Pymatuning State Park campground.
Fun fact: The Shenango River that flows into the reservoir was named the 2021 PA River of the Year!
2. Ernst Trail
The best place to take yourself or your dog for a long walk in Crawford County is Ernst Trail. The paved path is five miles long between Park Avenue Plaza in Meadville and Route 19 and features a wide range of beautiful landscapes and wildlife.
The path was formerly a railroad so it runs along tracks. Ernst Trail also runs along French Creek, which is Pennsylvania’s most biologically diverse body of water. This makes the trail a great place to view plants and wildlife as you get some exercise.
While cemeteries may not be the first place you think of for an outdoor adventure, they are actually great for bird watching and beautiful foliage. Plus, they tend to be a quiet alternative to loud, busy parks.
Greendale Cemetery is known for its beautiful landscaping – you can’t miss the rhododendrons! There are over 1500 in the cemetery and during their bloom people drive from miles away to see them. All of these stunning plants attract wildlife as well. I was able to see deer, birds, bees and butterflies.
Along with all the stunning nature, this cemetery also has a lot of history. It was designated as both a public park and burial ground in 1853 and features some notable gravesites. Keep an eye out for final resting places of inventor Gideon Sundback, Civil War figures and even some of Meadville’s original settlers.
Just 35 miles south of Erie is an expansive wildlife refuge full of trails and adventure.
French Creek flows through the refuge with over 80 different species of fish in its waters. There are also 5700 acres of wetlands and 3487 acres of upland forests to explore. The Tsuga Trail was a delight, winding through a range of mixed forests and wooden bridges.
My favorite part? The birds! Over 230 species can be seen there and the Erie National Wildlife Refuge was designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.
Eagles, red-tailed hawks and kestrels regularly nest on the refuge. Spring is the best time to see migrating waterfowl such as wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and blue-winged teal. If you’re lucky, the forests are perfect for spotting cerulean warblers, black-billed cuckoos and scarlet tanagers.
If you’re more of a tree person, you’ll be able to find mature maple forests full of red maple, striped maple, mountain maple, white ash, white pine, black cherry and American basswood trees.
These are just a few of the many stunning parks and green spaces in Crawford County. Get out there and explore!
Blog post by Hannah Brenner
Hannah is a travel, wildlife and environmental sustainability influencer who spends weekends camping in her renovated van across the country. She loves to share her passion for the environment, birds and travel experiences in a variety of multimedia formats on social media and blogs.