Directions to Birding Locations
Meeting place is normally at the small park next to the Army Corps of Engineers
Lock at the Highland Park Dam (Lock and Dam #2). Coming from Pittsburgh, this
is on the east side of the river, opposite side of Route 28.
From Pittsburgh take Butler Street to the intersection with Washington Boulevard by Highland Park. Turn left at this light and continue left over railroad tracks and straight into the parking area before you get to the Lock.
From Route 28 take the exit across the Highland Park Bridge and stay in the left hand lane. After you loop around off of the bridge, you will come to the Washington Boulevard intersection. Get in the left hand lane and turn left. Then stay left across the railroad tracks into the parking area.
The Bavington area (State Gamelands 117) is also called Hillman State Park and is 3653 acres of
reclaimed surface mines as well as wooded hillsides, small streams and a portion of Raccoon Creek.
The two main destinations are the Pitch Pine Trail and a large recovering surface mine.
The Pitch Pine Trail is about one mile long and winds its way through a pine plantation on an old surface mine. The pine plantation is home to Red-breasted Nuthatch, all year long. It is also home to Spotted Wintergreen, which is an uncommon plant.
The large recovering surface mine is located just off Steubenville Pike west of Bavington Pa. It is a large area of grassland, shrubs and small trees. A number of grassland birds are found here.
Directions: From Pittsburgh, take the Parkway West (I-279 south/ US 22-30) to the point where US 22-30 exits to the right. Take US 22-30 west to the point where US 30 exits to the right. Stay on US 22 and continue on US 22 to the Bavington Exit. At the end of the ramp turn right and drive a short distance to Steubenville Pike. Turn left onto Steubenville Pike and drive west about 2.6 miles until you see a white building on the left with Knowlton on it. Just past this building turn right on Knowlton Road (the sign is no longer legible, but there is a State Gamelands sign). Drive about 0.7 miles on Knowlton Road to the Pitch Pine Trail on the left. The trail starts where there are several wooden posts blocking vehicles from driving on the trail. The trail makes a loop back to the road. There is room for several cars to park on the wide shoulder of the road.
To go to the large recovering surface mine, turn around and go back to Steubenville Pike. At the end of Knowlton Road turn right and drive about 0.8 miles to the parking lot on the left. From this Gamelands parking lot there is a gated road, which leads into the grasslands area.
Bear Run Nature Reserve is a 5,000-acre natural area owned and protected by
the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. It lies along the western slope of Laurel
Ridge, facing the Youghiogheny River gorge. More than 20 miles of trails traverse the
Reserve. Many warblers nest here including Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush,
Black-throated Blue Warbler and Canada Warbler.
Directions from Pittsburgh take the Pennsylvania Turnpike east to the Donegal Exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left (east) on Route 31. Drive about 2.3 miles on Route 31 to Route 381. Turn right onto Route 381 and drive about 9.7 miles to Normalville. At Normalville make a left turn to stay on Route 381. Continue on Route 381 for about 6.8 miles to the Bear Run Nature Reserve on the left. Turn left into the driveway and drive a short distance to the parking lot. A trail map can be picked up here.
Black Swamp is the name used by birders for the marshy areas of State Gamelands 284 (SGL 284)
located in Lawrence County (the part in Mercer County is called Pennsy Swamp). This is a good
area to see migrating waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, winter migrants and marsh birds in general.
There is a pine plantation next to the SGL parking lot and in the winter, some rare birds have
been found in the pines.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take I-79 north to Exit 105 (SR 108). Turn right (west) on SR 108 and drive about 3.6 miles to US 19. Turn right (north) on US 19 and go about 5.6 miles to Black Road. Turn right on Black Road and drive about 0.9 miles to Nelson Road. Continue straight on Black Road for about another 0.5 miles to an unmarked dirt gamelands road, which leads to the SGL parking lot.
Turn left on the dirt road and travel about 0.2 miles to the parking lot. The view of Black Swamp is very limited from the parking lot. If you continue straight on Black Road instead of going to the parking lot, you will come to Old Ash Road. If you turn left on Old Ash Road, there are good views of Black Swamp on the left. This is private land, so a scope is essential to view the wetlands.
Boyce-Mayview Park is located in Upper St. Clair. With elevations
ranging from below 900 ft. to above 1200, and habitats including
deciduous and mixed woodlands, wetlands and mud flats, floodplains
and the adjacent Chartiers Creek, and beautiful meadows and fields,
it is truly a great place to bird in Allegheny County.
The directions, as well as other information about the park, can be found at http://www.twpusc.org/rec/parks/boycemay/index.htm.
The park will especially great for birding in the future with the planned construction of an Environmental Education Center, and boardwalk around the wetlands, and improvement of the park's trail system. In addition, 86% of the 474 acres will be kept natural.
For more info on the park's development, including several slideshows, visit http://www.twpusc.org/recmain/parks/boyc_may/boyc_may.htm.
Brady's Bend Hawk Watch is located at the scenic overlook over
the Allegheny River along PA Route 68, two miles east of the town
of East Brady.
The hawk watch is primarily a weekend site. It is not a typical hawk watch because migrating raptors rarely make close approaches to the overlook. Most are binocular or scope birds and a spotting scope is recommended for any visitors to the site. However, it is a good place to learn how to identify distant raptors.
Butler: Freeport Trail, Butler County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
The Butler-Freeport Trail is a "Rails to Trails" path, which starts in Freeport
and currently covers 15 of the 20 miles to Butler. It follows Buffalo Creek and then Little
Buffalo Creek. The section, centered on mile 7 is quite scenic and provides habitat for a
variety of breeding birds including Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler,
Kentucky Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush and the expected woodland birds.
This is also a wonderful trail for wildflowers, with many rare plants.
Directions: (borrowed from the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania). From Pittsburgh, take PA 28 north to Exit 17 (PA356/Butler/Freeport). At the end of the ramp, head west or north on PA 356. After roughly 3.5 miles, turn right onto Sarver Road (SR2018) at a traffic light. Drive about 0.5 miles on Sarver Road, traveling down a hill. After crossing a creek (Little Buffalo Creek) and passing a volunteer fire department on the left, turn left into the bike trail parking area.
This parking area is near the center of the currently completed trail and has a portable toilet.
Cambridge Springs Area (SGL 277), Crawford County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
State Gamelands 277 is located a short distance northeast of Cambridge Springs Pa and
is a large area of wetlands with many ponds and shallow lakes. For the Second Breeding
Bird Atlas a number of uncommon birds were reported here including: American Bittern,
Virginia Rail, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Marsh Wren and Mourning Warbler.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take I-79 north to Exit154 (Route 198). Exit onto Route 198 east and drive to Route 19. Turn north (left) on Route 19 and drive to Cambridge Springs. In Cambridge Springs look for the point where Route 99 comes from the left. At this point continue driving north on Route 19 for about 0.4 miles to Miller Station Road. Turn right onto Miller Station Road and drive about 1.2 miles to a parking lot on the right. Park here. Across the road from the parking lot is a gated Gamelands road. This gated road leads to many ponds and sideroads, which can be used to explore the Gamelands.
Cedar Creek Park, Westmoreland County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Cedar Creek Park is located near the intersection of I-70 and Route 51 in Westmoreland
County and borders the Youghiogheny River. The Yough Bike Trail runs through the park and the
best portion of the park for birding is the Cedar Creek Gorge Trail. This park is also an
excellent place to see hundreds of snow trilliums in early April.
Directions: (borrowed from the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania). From Pittsburgh follow Route 51 south. About 10 miles past the bridge over the Mon River in Elizabeth is a traffic light with an Exxon & Burger King on the left. At this traffic light, make a left onto Concord Lane. On Concord Lane, follow the park signs to the main entrance. Follow the road downhill and at the bottom of the hill turn left. Follow this road, which parallels the bike trail until you reach the farthest parking lot near the Cedar Creek Gorge Trail.
Clear Creek State Park and Forest, Jefferson County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Clear Creek State Park encompasses 1,676 acres of forested land in Jefferson County. Clear Creek
State Forest is a tract of 10,113 acres adjacent to the park. Both the park and the forest
are remote areas with areas of conifers, deciduous and mixed trees. This area is a special place
in that there are almost no alien invasive species present. Unfortunately an abundance of deer
means that there is not much understory. There are numerous deer exclosures and it is impressive
to see the difference between inside and outside the exclosures. There are several clean
mountain streams and areas of Rhododendron and some Mountain Laurel. At least 16 species of
warbler breed here plus other northern species such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Common
Raven, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take Route 28 northeast to Route 36 at Brookville. Drive north on Route 36 to Route 949 at Sigel. Turn right onto Route 949 (Clear Creek Road). Drive north on Route 949 for several miles to Clear Creek State Park on the left side of the road and Clear Creek State Forest on the right. Shortly after you cross Clear Creek, the park office is on the left at the road leading into the park. You can get a map at the office. Across Route 949 from the park office is the road leading into the State Forest.
Conneaut Harbor is a good place to see shorebirds in spring, summer and
early fall. From Pittsburgh, take I-79 to I-90, then I-90 west to the last
Pennsylvania exit, the exit for US 6N. Take 6N a very short way north
to its end at US 20. Go west on US 20 into Conneaut, Ohio. Turn right (north) on Ohio Rt. 7 (Broad St.),
towards the harbor. Continue past the end of RT. 7 and keep going on Broad until you reach a park. Enter the
parking lot, cross it towards the left (west) and exit onto a dirt road on the far west side. Follow
the dirt road to its end, in the harbor. Look out your window at shorebirds.
It's best to get there before 9am because the beach fills with sunbathers and picnickers, some of whom disturb the birds. We got there later than that, and still did fairly well, perhaps because it was a bit cloudy.
Take I-79 north to I-80 east.
Go east to exit 60 (old exit 8), the Shippenville exit.
Take Route 66 north toward Marienville. At the intersection of Routes 66 and 36 in the village of Leeper, turn right (south) onto Route 36.
Follow Route 36 into Cook Forest. Just before you cross the bridge over the Clarion River, turn left onto River Road. The park office is 100 yards down River Road on the left side.
Crane Creek State Park is a few miles east of Port Clinton, just
north of Ohio State Route 2, east of Toledo and west of Port Huron.
There's a sign for it on Route 2, where you turn north and follow
the road until it ends at a parking lot.
Coming from the east, it's a few miles past the Route 19. Take the Ohio Turnpike to exit 91, follow the signs to Route 19, then go north to Route 2. Take Route 2 a few miles left (west) to Crane Creek State Park.
It's a tiny park, but loaded with spring migrants, really loaded.
Rates are variable, and can be more on weekends and other special times, but on the web site it says for 1 - 2 person occupancy from Apr. 1 through June 18, it's $32 - 109.
4405 N. Touissaint North Road, Oak Harbor
Jack Solomon will be staying here in an RV, License Plate HG73174. It's modest and simple, but very quiet and clean, with flush toilets, showers and hot water. Last year it cost under $20/night to camp there. There is also a bunkhouse for rental. Interested groups should contact the camp directly to make any arrangements.
East Harbor State Park lies east just past Port Clinton via Route 2, and Maumee Bay State Park is 17 miles west of the park also via Route 2.
Port Clinton and Oak Harbor are 15 to 20 minutes from Crane Creek, and have a large number of hotels and motels.
From Squirrel Hill, Murray Avenue
Going south from the top of Murray Avenue, cross the Parkway
(I376) and continue to the end (you can make a left and then a
right onto Beechwood Blvd at any point after you cross the Parkway).
If you reach the end of Murray, turn left onto Hazelwood Avenue, then an immediate right onto Browns Hill Road.
If you get onto Beechwood before you reach the end of Murray, continue straight onto Browns Hill Road at the intersection with Hazelwood Avenue.
Turn left just before the bridge onto Old Browns Hill Road.
From Downtown or Monroeville Take the Parkway East to the Squirrel Hill exit. Stay to the left as you exit, and you will be on Beechwood Boulevard. When you reach the intersection with Hazelwood Avenue, continue straight onto Browns Hill Road. Turn left just before the bridge onto Old Browns Hill Road.
From the South (the Waterfront) Cross the Homestead High Level bridge going north from the Waterfront or from Carson Street (Rt. 837). Turn right at the first light over the bridge onto Old Browns Hill Road.
Follow Old Browns Hill Road to the river. Gulls and ducks accumulate here in cold weather. When water levels are low shorebirds may be found at the creek mouth.
Emmerling Community Park Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Emmerling Community Park is a small park located in Indiana Township, Allegheny County. It
is mostly ball fields and some picnic areas, but some interesting birding is to be had. The
Rachel Carson Trail follows Deer Creek through the park and affords the opportunity to observe
Belted Kingfisher, Acadian Flycatcher and Louisiana Waterthrush. The park is also home to six
shallow ponds, which were completed in 2007 as part of a wetlands mitigation project. By late
summer these ponds are mainly mudflats, which attract a few shorebirds.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take Route 28 to the State Route 910 exit. Turn left (west) on SR910 and drive about 4.1 miles to Cove Run Road. (There is a sign for the park). Turn right on Cove Run Road and proceed about 0.4 miles to the parking lot on the right. At the far end of the parking lot you will find the Rachel Carson Trail.
Enlow Fork Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Take I-79 south from Pittsburgh to Washington Pa.
Then take I-70 west to exit 11 (old exit #3).
Take route 221 south about 7 miles to route 18.
Follow routes 221 and 18 a short distance until route 18 turns to the right.
Follow route 18 several miles to route 231 and turn right (north) toward E Findley.
After a short distance, route 231 goes right.
Continue straight on state route (SR 3026) to the intersection with Ackley Creek Rd (SR 4007).
At this intersection proceed straight ahead and cross a small metal bridge.
Follow this road up the hill for about 2 miles to a sign on the right for Game Lands # 302.
Turn right (very sharp right) and follow the gravel road downhill along a small stream to a small parking area at the end of the road.
Frick Park Submitted by Elizabeth Barrow:
Frick Park's steep valleys and wooded slopes are ideal for solitary hikes. It was created when Henry Clay Frick's daughter asked for the park for her
debutante party in 1908, and acreage has been added since its inception. After 100 additional acres of parkland in the Nine Mile Run stream valley are annexed
to the park, Frick will have nearly 600 acres.
Most birders enter the park at the Frick Woods Nature Reserve entrance, near the corner of Beechwood Boulevard and Forbes Avenue. The 150 acre Frick Woods Nature Reserve offers a variety of gardens filled with Pennsylvania's native plants and a popular trail system used regularly for educational programs and nature walks. At the top of the hill, particularly, warblers and other migrants make the park their stop.
Lower Frick allows access to Nine Mile Run, and across Commercial Avenue to Duck Hollow.
If you are going to bird in Frick, be sure to take a copy of the Checklist of Birds for Frick Park (PDF Format).
Frick Park birders: Please record your sightings in the journal located in the mailbox on the side of the garden shed near the (old) nature center.
Directions From the Parkway East:
- Take the Edgewood/Swissvale exit, just east of the Squirrel Hill tunnel.
If you are coming from the west (Downtown), take the left fork to "Edgewood" and then the next left fork to Braddock Avenue.
At the end of either exit ramp, turn right onto Braddock Avenue, and proceed up the hill to the first light.
Upper Frick Park: continue straight to the second stoplight on Braddock Avenue, then turn left onto Forbes Avenue. At the first light on Forbes, turn left onto Dallas, then make an almost immediate left onto Beechwood Blvd. The entrance to the Frick Environmental Center is about 300 yards on the right.
Lower Frick Park: turn left at the first stoplight on Braddock Avenue onto W. Hutchinson. Proceed 4 blocks and turn right onto Lancaster Street at the "Frick Park" sign. Follow a winding road down into the parking lot at the bottom.
From Route 28 or Route 8:
- Cross the Highland
Park Bridge and stay in the left-hand lane. After you loop around off the
bridge, you will merge onto the Washington Boulevard intersection. Stay in the
right hand lane and turn right. At the 5th light, Washington Boulevard becomes
Fifth Avenue, and crosses Penn Avenue. Turn left onto Penn Avenue.
Upper Frick Park: at the next stoplight turn right onto Dallas. Contine through 3 lights past Forbes Avenue, then make an almost immediate left onto Beechwood Blvd. The entrance to the Frick Environmental Center is about 300 yards on the right.
Lower Frick Park: proceed until the 6th light on Penn Avenue, then turn right at the gas stations onto Braddock Avenue. At the second light, turn right onto W. Hutchinson. Proceed 4 blocks and turn right onto Lancaster Street at the "Frick Park" sign. Follow a winding road down into the parking lot at the bottom.
Geneva Marsh Area Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Custards From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 and take exit 141. At the end of the exit ramp turn right and go east on route 285 for about 1.3 miles. At the village of Custards turn left on Mercer Pike Road and travel about 0.5 miles north. When you cross over a small bridge, there is good parking on the right. The marsh stretches to the west all the way to I-79 and beyond. On those rare sunny days, it is best to visit this spot in the morning when the sun is at your back. By late afternoon you will be looking directly toward the sun. This is an excellent spot for migrating waterfowl, marsh birds, bald eagles etc. This is part of game lands 213.
The Wells From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 and take exit 141. At the end of the exit ramp turn left and go west on route 285 for about 1.7 miles. As you climb a long uphill stretch of road there are excellent views of the marsh to your right. When the road levels off, look for a narrow dirt road on the right at a game lands sign. Turn right on this road and proceed about 0.6 miles to the end. There are places to park at the end of this road and good views of the marsh. This is a rough dirt road with no winter maintenance, so be very careful. The lower part of this road is subject to flooding. This is also part of game lands 213 and a good place to see waterfowl, marsh birds, bald eagles etc. At the end of the road is an artesian well, from which this spot gets its name.
Geneva Marsh From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 and take exit 141. At the end of the exit ramp turn left and go west on route 285 for about 2.9 miles. You will be in the village of Geneva and should turn right on Main Street. Drive about 1.1 miles north on Main Street and when you cross a small bridge, bear left. At this fork in the road there is a good parking area. This road is subject to flooding when there is ample rain or melting snow. It is wise to visit in the morning since you will be looking toward the sun in late afternoon. This is another part of game lands 213 and a good place for seeing migrating waterfowl, marsh birds, bald eagles etc.
Red Dot Road From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 and take exit 141. At the end of the exit ramp turn left and go west on route 285 for about 5.4 miles. Turn right on McMichael Road (look for the ìRed Dot Farm Storageî sign) and drive north on McMichael Road (also known as Red Dot Road) for about 1.4 miles. There is a large marshy area on both sides of the road which is an excellent place to see and hear breeding Swamp Sparrows. This marsh is also part of game lands 213 and a good place for seeing migrating waterfowl, marsh birds etc.
Hampton Township Community Park, Allegheny County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Hampton Community Park consists of 195 acres of woods, old orchards, ball fields, a swimming
pool, tennis courts, soccer fields and a community center. The wooded area hosts the Hampton
Nature Trails, which are usable, but not well maintained and a portion of the Rachel Carson
Trail, which is well maintained. The park is home to the expected common birds such as
woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-tailed Hawks and in the winter Canada Geese.
Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on Route 8 to McCully Road. Turn right onto McCully Road (there is a sign for Hampton Park). Drive about 1.0 mile on McCully Road and turn left into the park at the main entrance. If you continue straight on McCully Road past the main entrance for about 0.3 miles, you will come to a small parking area on the left for the Nature Trails.
Imperial Grasslands Submitted by Mike Fialkovich:
Independence Marsh, Beaver County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Pittsburgh, take the Parkway West (I-376) to the Airport Parkway (PA 60). Continue past the
airport's exit to exit 9 (Hopewell). Go west (left) on PA 151. Shortly after you cross an
iron bridge, you will see an Amerigas facility on the corner. Turn right here onto Cowpath
Road. Drive about 0.5 miles to the Beaver County Conservation Center. Note: Taken from the
Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania)
Indian Creek Trail at Camp Christian, Fayette County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
The Indian Creek Trail starts near Camp Christian by the Mill Run Reservoir. From the parking
lot, the trail at first follows a gravel road along the reservoir, but soon bears slightly to
the left and follows an old railroad grade. The railroad grade follows Indian Creek below
the dam for Mill Run Reservoir. I only walked about a mile, but I have been told that the trail
goes several miles to the Yougiogheny River. The trail goes through a typical Laurel Highlands
forest and is a good place to see and hear birds. It is also a good place for wildflowers.
The trail stays well above the stream, but after a rain the rushing water can be loud. The
Mill Run Reservoir is also a good place for waterfowl and shorebirds.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take the Pennsylvania Turnpike east to the Donegal Exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left (east) on Route 31. Drive about 2.3 miles on Route 31 to Route 381. Turn right onto Route 381 and drive about 9.7 miles to Normalville. At Normalville make a left turn to stay on Route 381. Continue on Route 381 for about 2.1 miles until you see a sign for Camp Christian on the right. Turn right and drive about 0.5 miles to the parking lot on the right (opposite another sign for Camp Christian).
Indian Head Trail, Fayette County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
The Indian Head Trail is a rails to trails trail, which follows Indian Creek. The southern end
is just off Route 381 in the town of Indian Head. From Indian Head the trail follows the creek north
(upstream) for about 5 miles. For the most part the trail goes through woods and the creek can be
seen at many points. You can expect to see and hear birds common to woodland areas as well as a rural
stream. The trail is also a good place to see many wildflowers.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take the Pennsylvania Turnpike east to the Donegal Exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left (east) on Route 31. Drive about 2.3 miles on Route 31 to Route 381. Turn right onto Route 381 and drive about 6.2 miles to Indian Head. Turn left on State Route 1054 and drive a short distance. Turn left through a parking lot to reach the trail parking lot (not far). Park here.
Jennings Prairie, Butler County Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Jennings Prairie (officially called the Jennings Environmental Education Center) is actually
a 300-acre State Park containing a 20-acre prairie. The prairie is managed for the benefit of
the Blazing Star and other prairie wildflowers plus the endangered Massasauga Rattlesnake.
It also a good place to see and hear many birds. Among the breeding birds are Barred Owl,
Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and many of the expected woodland birds. The trails are
well maintained and easy to walk with some being wheelchair accessible.
Directions: (borrowed from the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania): From Pittsburgh, take I-79 North to Exit 99. Drive east on US 422 about 5.8 miles to the Prospect exit and turn left (north) onto PA 528. Drive north on PA 528 for about 7 miles. Turn left into the short road to the Jennings Prairie parking lot (if you get to Route 8, you have gone too far). There is more parking on the right side of PA 528 at the Education Center.
Lake Arthur, East Submitted by Richard Nugent:
The eastern portion of Lake Arthur in Butler Country is accessed from SR 528. After exiting
US 422 the first area is the Waterfowl Observation Area, which is a covered structure with a
good view of the Big Run arm of the lake. A few miles north is the 528 bridge and boat launch,
which offers good views of the lake and a Cliff Swallow colony. Next is the Upper 528 Launch and
finally Barton Road, which leads to the Muddy Creek arm of the lake and also the parking lot for
the trail leading to Muddy Creek.
Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 to exit 99. Take US 422 east about 5.8 miles to the SR 528 (Prospect) exit. At the end of the exit ramp turn left (north) on SR 528. After crossing over US 422 there is an entrance ramp on the left and immediately after the ramp is old 422, which leads to the Waterfowl Observation Area. Drive past old 422 about 2.9 miles and you will cross a large bridge, followed by a road on the right leading to the boat launch. Another 1.3 miles north leads to a road on the right for the Upper 528 Launch. If you drive about 0.8 miles farther north, you will find Barkley Road on the right. Turn right onto Barkley Road and proceed about 0.7 miles to Burton Road on the left (if you go straight you will arrive at the Acid Mine Treatment Wetland and the Muddy Creek arm of Lake Arthur). Turn left on Burton Road and drive about 1.4 miles to a small parking lot on the left. Just before the lot and on the opposite of the road is the gated trail/road, which leads to Muddy Creek and some very nice wetlands.
Lake Arthur, North Shore Submitted by Richard Nugent:
Mc Danels boat launch area:
- Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 to exit 96.At the end of the exit
ramp turn left (west) on Route 488 and drive about 0.6 miles to Route 19. Turn right (north)
on Route 19 and drive about 0.5 miles to West Park Road. Bear right on West Park Road and
drive about 2.8 miles. Turn right and go 0.1 miles and then turn right again. Drive a short
distance and turn left. Proceed 0.1 mile to the Mc Danels boat launch.
The Mc Danels boat launch area gives a good view of an arm of Lake Arthur and one of the Osprey nesting platforms is easily visible. This is also a good place to see Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. They have a colony of Purple Martins nesting in plastic gourds. Close by is the Butterfly Trail.
- The bike trail is a 7.2 mile long path paved with smooth asphalt, which follows the north
shore of Lake Arthur. It provides many places to view the lake in summer and many more when
there are no leaves in the way. Many people like to park at the bike rental facility, but I
prefer the parking lot at the swimming beach which is about half way on the trail. There are
also several other places to park along the trail.
Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 to exit 96. At the end of the exit ramp turn left (west) on Route 488 and drive about 0.6 miles to Route 19. Turn right (north) on Route 19 and drive about 0.5 miles to West Park Road. Bear right on West Park Road and drive about 2.8 miles. Turn right and drive 0.6 miles to the bike rental facility. To reach the Swimming Beach parking lot drive about 2.5 miles farther and turn right on the road leading to Lakeview Beach. Drive 0.3 miles on this road and make a left to enter the parking lot. This is a large parking lot and has bathrooms.
Lake Arthur, South Shore Submitted by Richard Nugent:
The south shore loop is a 2.5-mile one-way road in Moraine State Park in Butler County with
many good spots to view the lake. This area is primarily developed for swimming, boating,
picnicking and hiking. As one travels the loop, the first parking lot on the right provides
access to the Sunken Garden Trail and a good view of the swimming area of the lake. Other good
birding areas are the swimming area parking lot, the Point Picnic Area, Windy Knob Picnic Area,
Pleasant View Picnic Area and the Bear Run Boat Launch.
Directions: From Pittsburgh travel north on I-79 to Exit 99 (US422). Take US422 east about 2.4 miles to the Moraine SP exit. At the end of the exit ramp turn left on Pleasant Valley Road and drive about 0.5 miles to the park office on the left (get a map here). The 2.5-mile loop starts here. Go 0.3 miles to the first parking lot on the right (Sunken Garden Trail and views of lake). Travel 0.3 miles to the swimming area parking lot on the right (view of lake). Another 0.2 miles brings you to the Point Picnic area (view of lake). Another 0.8 miles and you are at the Windy Knob Picnic Area on the right (land birds). Drive another 0.2 miles and you are at the road on the left leading to the Pleasant View Picnic area (land birds). Last but not least, another 0.4 miles brings one to the road on the right leading to the Bear Run Launch area. Another 0.4 miles and the loop is complete.
Linesville Fish Hatchery Submitted by Richard Nugent:
From Linesville PA on Route 6 turn South on State Route 3011 (pretty much in the middle of Linesville).
Drive South toward Pymatunning State Park about 0.6 miles. Turn left into the fish hatchery property and drive to the
Visitor's Center parking lot at the end of the road. The Visitor’s
Center is open from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM Monday through Sunday and at other times the gate at
Route 3011 will be closed. There is a large lake and marshy area near the fish hatchery, which is an excellent place to see migrating waterfowl and
since this area is closed to hunting, many birds concentrate here during the hunting
This is also an excellent place to see Bald Eagles, Osprey, Great Blue Herons etc. The Visitor’s Center is also an interesting place to explore with good exhibits on fish, birds and more. Last but not least there are rest rooms at the Visitor's Center.
The Lower Buffalo Creek Important Bird Area (IBA 80)is located in Washington County. 3RBC
outings there usually start at a well-known local landmark, the *S Bridge.*
Directions from Pittsburgh: I-79 south to I-70, take I-70 west approx. 5 miles, to exit #11 Taylorstown. Exit and proceed a short distance to a stop sign at a *T* intersection and turn left. Go another short distance to the next stop sign and turn right, onto SR-221 north. Go appox. 1/4 mile to the blinking red light, this is the site of the S-Bridge an historic landmark, continue north on SR-221 past the blinking light, about 100 yards to the meeting parking area, on the left.
M K Goddard State Park consists of Lake Wilhelm and surrounding forests and fields. It has
a very nice 12-mile long bike trail which makes a loop around most of the lake. The upper end
of the lake is in a State Game Lands (SGL 270). Bald Eagle and Osprey nest in the park or
nearby and the expected woodland birds nest here, including a nice variety of warblers. At the
Environmental Learning Center, they have a colony of Purple Martins nesting in artificial
gourds. At various points along the trail there are nesting boxes, which attract Eastern
Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. Lake Wilhelm also attracts migrating waterfowl.
Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 to exit 130. At the end of the exit ramp turn left (West) on SR 358. Drive west on SR 358 for about 0.5 miles to SR 1011 (Sheakleyville Road). There is a sign for the park. Turn right onto SR 1011 and drive about 1.1 miles to SR 1009 (Lake Wilhelm Road). There is a sign for the park here also. Turn Right onto SR 1009 and drive about 1.7 miles to the park entrance. Turn right into the park and drive about 0.3 miles to the Environmental Learning Center. Maps are available as is a parking lot for the bike trail.
- From Mount Pleasant, take Route 31 east to the intersection with
982. Turn left onto 982 and follow it into Mammoth. (Mammoth is
the name of the town, not the size of the wetlands). Follow 982
through Mammoth to a T intersection. A sign will point to Mammoth
County Park to the right. Turn LEFT and go about one mile. You'll
see a farm on the right with silos. The wetlands and ponds will
be on your right just past the barn. You'll cross a small bridge
with a pull-off on the other side of the bridge on the left.
McConnells Mill State Park has some unique birding opportunities. Along Slippery Rock Creek
is found a cool damp Hemlock habitat, which is like a part of northern forest transplanted to
Lawrence County. This habitat supports breeding Winter Wren, Black-throated Green Warbler and
Blue-headed Vireo, all normally found farther north. The trails tend to be rocky, wet, muddy
Directions: Drive north on I-79 to exit 96. Turn left (west) on Route 488 and drive about 0.6 miles to Route 19. Turn right (North) on Route 19 and travel about 1.5 miles to Killdoo road. Turn Left on Killdoo Road and continue about 1.2 miles to the main parking lot for McConnells Mill State Park.
"Miller's Pond" is located at Pymatuning State Park in Crawford
County. It is unknown where the name "Miller's Pond" comes from, but that is what birders call it.
The ponds are next to the Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area Food and Cover Headquarters off of
From Route 285 causeway which connects Ohio to Pennsylvania (in the middle of the lake), continue East on 285 roughly 3 miles to the intersection of Hartstown Road. Do not turn onto Hartstown Road but continue straight less than one mile. There will be a dirt road on your left. Turn down this dirt road until you see the first pont on the right. Continue on this road and on your right is the second smaller pond which is next to the Food and Cover Building.
The New Wilmington Area is a rural area centered on the intersection of Routes
208 and 18 just west of New Wilmington Pa. Most attention is given to the southwest
part, which is known for Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur, American
Kestrel, Northern Harrier and Rough-legged Hawk in the Winter. This is an agricultural
area with many Amish/ Mennonite farms. They frequently spread fresh manure on
their fields and the manure attracts many of the birds. Birding can be especially
productive several days after a snowfall, when the fresh manure is easy to see on top
of the snow. In the Southwest quadrant Heather Heights Road, Cotton Road, Poverty
Point Road and Yoder Road are popular with birders. The Northeast quadrant can also be
good. The roads are Angel Road, Cowden Road and Bethel Wilmington Road.
This is an Amish/ Mennonite area and you may encounter horses and buggies on the roads. Drive with extreme caution and be respectful of the local people. This is their home and we are the visitors. Driving very slowly behind a buggy is a good opportunity to see more birds.
Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 to the exit for Route 208 (this is also the exit for the Outlet Shops). Drive west on Route 208 to New Wilmington Pa. A couple miles west of New Wilmington is the intersection of Route 208 and Route 18. Turn left onto Route 18 and drive south a short distance to Heather Heights Road on the right. Turn right onto Heather Heights Road and start exploring.
North Park is a county park in the north hills of Pittsburgh. It covers about 3,000 acres of
woods, lakes, brushy areas and meadows. There are many miles of trails and several lightly
traveled roads. Some of the better areas for birding are:
- The Latodami Nature Center area, including the Braile Trail and the Upper Fields Area
- The main lake, Marshall Lake and several smaller lakes
- The North Ridge Road area
- The South Ridge Road Area
- Irwin Road (Closed to unauthorized vehicles, but open to pedestrians and bikes
- The five mile bike trail around the main lake
Directions: From Pittsburgh take Route 8 north to Wildwood road (there is a McDonalds on the right). Turn left onto Wildwood road and drive west about 2.9 miles to Babcock Blvd. Turn right on Babcock Blvd and go about 0.3 miles to Pierce Mill Road. Turn left on Pierce Mill Road and travel about 1.4 miles to the Administration Building on the left (you can pick up a map here). The map shows only a fraction of the trails and some of them are not accurately shown.
Ohiopyle State Park encompasses approximately 19,052-acres of rugged
land centered on the Youghiogheny River gorge. The park has more than 41
miles of hiking trail including an excellent bike trail along the river.
The park is home to many nesting birds. Of particular interest are many
species of warblers including Canada Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Louisiana
Waterthrush, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat,
Golden-winged Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler. There is also a
colony of Cliff Swallows under the main bridge in Ohiopyle.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take the Pennsylvania Turnpike east to the Donegal Exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left (east) on Route 31. Drive about 2.3 miles on Route 31 to Route 381. Turn right onto Route 381 and drive about 9.7 miles to Normalville. At Normalville make a left turn to stay on Route 381. Continue on Route 381 for about 10.9 miles to the town of Ohiopyle, which is in the center of the park.
Oil Creek State Park consists of 7,026 acres mainly in Venango County and is centered
along Oil Creek. A 9.5-mile paved bike trail parallels Oil Creek and provides easy access
to the excellent bird habitat in the park. A total of 52 miles of trails can be used to
explore all parts of the park. The area is rich in bird life with at least 18 species of
warblers, Common Raven, Winter Wren and even Common Mergansers nesting in the area.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take I-79 north to I-80. Drive east on I-80 to Route 8. Go north on Route 8 to Oil City. Continue north on Route 8 to the Borough of Rouseville and then about a mile further turn right on State Route 1007 (State Park Road). Follow SR 1007 to Petroleum Centre and the Park Office. You can get a map of the park here and the bike trail also starts at Petroleum Centre.
Pennsy Swamp is the name used by birders to describe the marshy areas in State Gamelands 284
(SGL 284), which are in Mercer County. The area in Lawrence County is called Black Swamp. An
old railroad grade (now a gated gamelands road) goes through the middle of Pennsy Swamp and
provides good views of the ponds and marshy areas. This is a good place to see Marsh Wrens,
Sandhill Cranes, migrating waterfowl, Osprey, Sora, Virginia Rail and a nice variety of wetland
birds. It is also a productive place for turtles, beaver and mosquitoes.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take I-79 north to Exit 105 (SR 108). Turn right (west) on SR 108 and drive about 3.6 miles to US 19. Turn right (north) on US 19 and travel about 5.6 miles to Black Road. Turn right on Black Road and go about 0.9 miles to Nelson Road. Turn left on Nelson Road and drive about 1.0 miles to the point where Nelson Road makes a 90 degree right turn. Turn right and go about 0.3 miles to an SGL parking lot on the right. Park here. If you go a short distance past the parking lot on Nelson Road, there is a tiny parking spot for one or two cars. Opposite this tiny parking area is the start of the railroad grade.
Piney Tract, also known locally as Mt. Zion, is a revegetated
strip mine in Clarion County. Two years ago, in 1999, the first
Clay-colored Sparrow nests were discovered.
Take I-80 west from the Clarion exit (#62) approximately 9 miles to exit #53, Knox. At the stop sign at the exit ramp re-set your tripodometer to '0' then turn left onto Canoe Ripple Road.
Traveling south on Canoe Ripple Road 1.2 miles you will come to a 90 degree right turn in the road. Do not go straight. Follow the main road to the right. Continue on Canoe Riple Road another mile to the bridge over the Clarion River. Cross the river and continue up the hill where you will pass Whitmer Road on your right.
When you pass Whitmer Road you will be on a fairly straight uphill section of road. When you pass the white barn on the left start looking for Elliot Road, which will actually go straight at the 90 degree turn to the right and your odometer will read 3.2 miles from I-80.
After the turn onto Elliot Road you are almost there. Go another 1.2 miles to Mt. Zion Road. The grasslands you are looking at is 'Piney Tract'. Turn left on Mt. Zion road and go .4 mile to the steel posts on both sides of the road at the top of the hill. Park anywhere along the roadside.
The Seneca Rocks Audubon Society website has more information about Piney Tract, and also good directions to other birding spots in their region of: Clarion, Forest, Jefferson and Venango Counties in northwestern PA.
To reach Polk Wetlands from Interstate 80, take exit 3 north;
this is the exit for Route 8. Go north on Route 8 most of the
way to Franklin (about 10-15 miles). Just after Route 8 changes
from divided to undivided, turn left onto Polk Cutoff. Proceed
on Polk Cutoff Road to the bottom of the hill (about 1 or 2 miles).
At the bottom of the hill the woods open up into flood plain valley.
There is a small gravel parking lot on the left side of the road
with a large wooden sign for SGL 039 Wetlands Restoration.
The Wetlands may also be reached by taking Rte.965 or 62 to the small town of Polk and turning south at the first 4 corners at the east-end of town. There is an old fashioned grocery/convenience store in Polk that has cold drinks and food.
The area is in Pennsylvania Game Commission Gameland No. 39, in Venango County.
The map does not exactly show the wetlands restoration area, so anyone who can add to these directions, and/or describe what can be found there, and when, is invited to submit details to Jack Solomon.
Powder Mill Nature :
From the Donegal exit (#9) of the Pennsylvania
Turnpike After exiting the turnpike tollbooth, turn
left at the stop sign onto Rt. 31. Follow Rt. 31 east for approximately
2 miles, past Sarnellis Restaurant (on right), and turn
left onto Rt. 381 North. (If you begin to travel up the mountain,
youve gone too far.) Follow Rt. 381 North for approximately
8 miles until you see a white sign with black letters on the right
that says "Florence Lockhart Nimick Nature Center Carnegie
Museum of Natural History". The center is on the left.
From the intersection of Rt. 711 & Rt. 30 in Ligonier proceed east on Rt. 30. Turn right onto Rt. 381 South (there is a sign for Linn Run State Park at this intersection). Follow Rt. 381 into the SMALL town of Rector. Watch for St. Michaels Church on your right. Directly across the street from St. Michaels is a road, turn left onto this road where you see the Powdermill Nature Reserve sign. (DO NOT turn up the road where you the Linn Run State Park sign.) Now that youre on the road across from St. Michaels, follow it for 3 miles until you come to a stop sing. At the stop sign, go straight ahead. The Florence Lockhart Nimick Nature Center is 3/10 of a mile down this road on the right.
Presque Isle State Park is a narrow peninsula extending into Lake Erie, just west of
Erie Pennsylvania. It is about six miles long and acts as a migrant trap, especially in
the spring. Around mid May it is common for 20 species of warbler to be found in the
park. The main road extends the length of the peninsula and many trails can be used to
explore the park. For the Spring migrants some popular areas are: Fry's Landing, Thompson
Circle, Pine Tree Trail, Sidewalk Trail, Ridge Trail (which parallels Sidewalk Trail and
is not shown well on the park map), Graveyard Pond Trail and Gull Point Trail. There are
other good areas and the whole park holds good migrants. It is a good idea to pick up a
park map at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center or the Ranger Station near Swan Cove.
Directions: From Pittsburgh drive north on I-79 to exit183B. After exiting I-79, drive west on Route 5 for about 1.4 miles to Route 832. Turn right onto Route 832 and drive north about 0.7 miles to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center on the right. You can stop here to get a park map and climb the tower for a bird's eye view of the park. Continue north on Route 832 and enter the park
Take I-79 to Mt. Nebo exit. Take Mt. Nebo Road west towards Sewickley. This
road will become Blackburn Road. Follow Blackburn Road through the countryside until
you come to a stop sign. Make a right at the stop sign onto Fern Hollow Road. Follow
this winding road for a short distance and you will pass the Borough Maintenance Building
on your right. The park's entrance is immediately after that on your right. Follow
the drive all the way to the upper parking lot at the end. The park's gate opens at 7:00 am.
There is a park map located in the kiosk of the upper parking lot. Birding is generally good in all sections of the park, but these trails are highly recommended: Butterfly, Black Cherry, Bridle, Waterthrush Way, Gravel Path, Pipeline, and along the main road. To purchase a park map and to obtain a bird list, visit the Fern Hollow Nature Center located at 1901 Glen Mitchell Road in Sewickley. For directions to the center as well as information about their activities, visit their website at www.fhnc.org.
State Gamelands 95 (SGL 95) consists of 9,348 acres of land in several parcels in northern
Butler County. The Hilliards area is a large valley with numerous wetlands and ponds. The
Second Breeding Bird Atlas reported at least 86 species for this block. The North Country
Trail passes through it and provides a good way to explore the valley. Various gated
gamelands roads can also be used.
The Glades is the part of SGL 95 near West Sunbury Pa and consists of a large shallow lake and associated wetlands, woods and fields. It is home to a Bald Eagle nest and the Second BBA reported at least 105 species for this block. The North Country Trail also passes through this parcel and there are several gravel roads that can be used to explore this part of the Gamelands.
Directions: From Butler Pa take Route 8 north to route 308. Follow route 308 north to West Sunbury and look for the point where Route 138 goes to the right (note that south of West Sunbury Route 138 comes in from the left). Continue north on Route 308 for about 2.9 miles to Tinker road (gravel road) on the right. Turn right onto Tinker Road (T536) and drive about 1.1 miles to the end of the road in a parking lot.
To reach the Hilliards area, drive north from Butler Pa on route 38 to where Route 138 comes in from the left in North Washington Pa. Continue north on Route 38 for about 0.9 miles to Hilliard Road (T840) on the left. Turn left on Hilliard Road and drive about 0.6 miles to a stop sign. Go straight on Old Brick Road and drive about 1.9 miles to a T. Turn left (no road sign) and go about 0.4 miles to a stop sign at Kohlmeyer Road. Turn right onto Kohlmeyer Road and drive about 2.2 miles. Soon after crossing a creek, there is a wide shoulder for parking and a gamelands road to a small parking lot. This is an access point for the North Country Trail.
Directions from Pittsburgh:
- Take Route 19 South onto West Liberty Avenue.
Go straight onto Washington Road.
Turn RIGHT (West) onto Boyce Road.
Turn Right into Ardolino's Pizza.
- Take the PA-50 exit, exit number 54, towards Bridgeville.
Turn RIGHT onto Millers Run Road/PA-50.
Turn RIGHT onto Washington Pike.
Turn LEFT onto Boyce Road.
Turn LEFT into Ardolino's Pizza.
The Volant Strips is a large area of former strip mines (surface mines), which are mainly grass
with a scattering of shrubs and small trees. Over the last 10 years or so, some of this area has
been used for hay, corn and other crops. Some land has been developed for housing and commercial
purposes and some of it is "for sale" as lots. In spite of this development it is
still good habitat for grassland birds including Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Horned Lark,
Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Savannah Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow,
Grasshopper Sparrow, Rough-legged Hawk and Short-eared Owl. This is private land and birding
should be done from the roads. A scope is highly desirable.
Directions: From Pittsburgh take I-79 north to Exit 105 (SR 108). Turn right (west) on SR 108 and go about 3.6 miles to US 19. Turn right (north) on US 19 and drive about 5.6 miles to Black Road. Turn right on Black Road, which leads into the middle of the Volant Strips.
The Wildflower Reserve is a 314-acre tract in Raccoon Creek State Park. It was originally
purchased by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1962 and contains one of the most unique
stands of wildflowers in western Pennsylvania. It is also an excellent place to observe birds.
Two trails in particular are on high ground and allow hikers to view the treetops of trees
growing in the flood plain of Raccoon Creek. These trails are Audubon Trail and Old Wagon Road.
In addition to the expected woodland birds, Cerulean Warbler, Brown Creeper and Louisiana Waterthrush nest here.
Directions: (borrowed from the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania) from Pittsburgh, take the Parkway West (I-279 south/ US 22-30) to the Airport Expressway (PA 60). Continue past the Airport exit to Exit 7/Clinton. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left and continue about 1.1 miles to US 30. Turn right onto US 30 and drive about 4.7 miles to the entrance for the Wildflower Reserve. The entrance is on the right, just past the crest of the hill. Turn right into the driveway and drive a short distance to the parking lot. Trail maps are available as are bathrooms.
Wolf Creek Narrows is a property owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. It consists of
a scenic portion of Wolf Creek and surrounding forest with a loop trail through it. The forest
supports a mixture of hardwoods and Hemlocks, which make for a nice walk at any time of the
year. Parts of the trail are not well marked and fallen trees are not always cleared quickly.
Wolf Creek Narrows is in Breeding Bird Atlas Block 43D53, for which 99 species of breeding
birds have been recorded, including 14 kinds of warblers. Many wildflowers can be found here
including magnificent Turk's Cap Lilies and a number of uncommon plants. There is also a lot
of Poison Ivy.