One of the best things about spring is everything coming back to life after a long, cold winter, with warm weather and sunshine rolling in, leaves back on the trees, flowers blooming. And one of the best things about spring in the Pittsburgh area is the local plant life, especially wildflowers. Pittsburgh has plenty of great places to visit to see wildflowers in bloom, from parks highlighting the area’s native plants to nature centers dedicated to education. Here are five of the best to visit this spring.
Raccoon Creek State Park
3000 State Route 18
Hookstown, PA 15050
Situated along Route 30 and 25 miles west of Pittsburgh, Raccoon Creek has its own Wildflower Reserve on 314 acres of land featuring over 700 species of plants, including some you won’t find at other local parks, featuring wildflowers along five miles of trails, making it one of the best places to visit. The park’s wildflowers are also the focus of many of its events, with guided tours of the trails in late April and a Mother’s Day wildflower walk on Sunday, May 8. The reserve’s interpretive center also offers educational programs and other guided tours. The best time to visit and see the flowers is when they’re at peak bloom, in late April through early May and August through early September.
Latodami Nature Center
575 Brown Road
Wexford, PA 15090
In 1969, the Allegheny County Parks and Recreation department bought the Latodami Farm to create one of the area’s first environmental education centers. The center is open daily from sunrise until sunset, leaving visitors free to explore its trails spread across 200 acres. Most plants in the center’s gardens are native to Pennsylvania, and plenty of events and programs involve the wildflowers. The flowers can be seen every Thursday as part of the weekly nature walk, held from 10 a.m. until noon. In September, the Seeds for the Future event gathers seeds from the wildflowers, which are then sown in November.
Cedar Creek Park
53 Evergreen Drive
Belle Vernon, PA 15012
Westmoreland County’s 464-acre Cedar Creek Park has plenty of wildflowers to see in its short gorge, including some species otherwise hard to come by, such as snow trillium. The park also hosts family-friendly summer events, such as August Fun Fest and a summer concert series, and visitors can rent bikes and enjoy the park’s picnic areas. Cedar Creek Park is located in Rostraver Township, just off of Route 51.
Fall Run Park
187 Fall Run Road
Glenshaw, PA 15116
Located in nearby Glenshaw, Fall Run Park sports just over 93 acres, making it one of Glenshaw’s biggest parks. In those acres, you can catch a variety of spring wildflowers, including bloodroot, trillium, jack-in-the pulpit, wild geranium, Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauties, violets and great bellwort. In addition, the park also features a mile-long hiking trail going from one end of the park to the other which offers a great view of the wildflowers. The park also has a 30-foot waterfall, one of the largest near Pittsburgh.
Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area
195 Miller Road
Slippery Rock, PA 16057
Wolf Creek Narrows, located in Slippery Rock in Butler County, has a reputation for its wildflowers, which include Virginia bluebell, spring-beauty, trout-lily and white trillium. Later in the season, you can also spot water willow growing in Wolf Creek’s shallow stream. The area grew a bit last summer after the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy permanently protected 39 acres next to the already 202-acre area, in addition to their effort to restore and improve the native plants on the property.
Janelle Sheetz is a 20-something closed-captioner by day, writer by night, just outside of Pittsburgh. She also regularly contributes to AXS.com and Examiner.com, and her writing has also been featured on The Billfold and Neutrons Protons.