Hello, my name is Teri and I am the Administrative Assistant with Butler County Tourism and also a proud Butler County resident for the last 30 years. This past weekend was the last big summer weekend for 2016 -- Labor Day. This weekend means so many different things, but when the Western PA weather cooperates as it did this past weekend, it usually means outdoor activities! For me, this weekend meant getting outdoors. I selected Moraine State Park, Jennings Environmental Education Center and The Snowman for my weekend of fun!
Moraine State Park is one of the largest State Parks in Pennsylvania and is visited by thousands of guests annually. Labor Day weekend proved to be no different. McDanels Launch, on the North Shore, was busy daily with hundreds of boaters looking to experience all the beauty Lake Arthur has to offer. The weather was really perfect. Every day was warm (mid 70s with low humidity) and not a cloud in the sky. The water was smooth making a perfect combination for boating and outdoor activities. No storms predicted meant there were fishermen hoping to make a great catch, kayakers seeking a quiet paddle, and sailors soaking up the sun. The water was being enjoyed by visitors of all ages both at the beaches and on the water. Many visitors to the park brought along their canine companions and this little one (above) was by far my favorite. The sheer excitement to go boating for the day was evident right away and watching these two friends setting out to share a wonderful day made everyone smile.
There are many wonderful ways to enjoy the park and just minutes from McDanels launch, the seven-mile paved bike trail is an excellent option. Many families were enjoying the Moraine experience while pedaling the trail. I chose a Labor Day hike on the North Country Trail, adjacent to the parking lot at the Bike Rental on the North Shore. This particular trail offers numerous breathtaking views of the water as well as wooded hiking. For those who have never experienced this trail before, it is a must! The trail starts out as many wooded hikes but just minutes into what may seem like an ordinary hike you’ll find a beautiful view of the cove and a bridge. There are many beautiful vantage points on the trail to view the cove, and the option to cross the bride and access the bike trail for a more stable footing option for walking is welcoming for many.
Ian from SurfSUP Adventures provided Eco Tours all weekend and I encountered one of the groups having a peaceful experience in the cove. The beauty of the cove and the quiet paddle of the boaters made for a stunning photography moment.
After spending the day at the park, a cool treat is a wonderful way to make the day perfect. The Snowman in Portersville, just minutes away, offers a Butler County experience like no other. The 13-foot fiberglass snowman isn’t hard to miss and their menu options are just as impressive. There are hundreds of refreshing treat options from the 24 shave ice flavors and seven sugar free options, smoothies, frappes, cones, novelties, and their ever-popular Yeti (shave ice combined with Hershey's® Vanilla or Chocolate Ice Cream and whipped cream top to make a sundae or milkshake). It's hard to pick just one!
After a recharge at The Snowman, be sure to head up to Jennings Environmental Education Center off of Route 528 North near Slippery Rock. It offers five miles of trails with hiking options for all ages and skill levels for both prairie and forest experiences. I chose the Blazing Star Ttrail and was immediately impressed with the beauty of the tall sunflowers growing right up to the path. This is one of the easiest hiking trails available at Jennings so capturing all the stunning flowers still in bloom in early September proved easy. The trail winds through the middle of the prairie and provides easy access to the Prairie Loop Trail. While enjoying this trail, visitors can take a break on a well-placed bench offering a cool shaded spot and perfect viewing!
Be sure to make Jennings Environmental Education Center part of your agenda the next time you’re out enjoying Butler County! And, for those of you photography buffs, submit all your amazing photos to us through our quarterly Photo Contest for a chance to win a Butler County Tourism Gift Certificate.