Living in rural Western Pennsylvania, most of us see the beauty of the land in all directions. It is not uncommon for visitors/tourists to come to Lawrence County and partake in splendor of our area. In a column last month, I mentioned the tourism impact in Lawrence County is $118.1 million with $22.8 million in recreation. There is something for everyone to explore and anyone can become one with nature in our area.
Several county owned parks, trails, bridges, and boat launches promote recreational tourism. One of the first places that come to mind when thinking recreation in Lawrence County is McConnells Mill State Park! Not only does it house a historic grist mill but it contains one of two covered bridges in Lawrence County.
Did you know that our two covered bridges, Banks and McConnells Mill, are owned and operated by our county? Did you also know covered bridges were often referred to as “kissing bridges”? That may be a subject for another time but you should be able to figure that one out for yourself. Both bridges are registered historic landmarks. Commissioner Dan Vogler noted McConnells Mill covered bridge is in the process of a mini facelift with a good washing and painting. Vogler stated, “The current color has become somewhat dull and faded and our intent is to repaint and brighten it up!” The managers at the state park noticed the bridge improvements and have already begun their own “lift” to the Mill.
If adventure is your game, a person could rappel down the rocks, fight the currents while white water rafting or kayaking. For the less adventurous, the trails go on for miles with available space for picnics and the view from Cleland Rock is breathtaking. This state park spans more than 2500 acres and free guided tours are also available to park visitors.
Another favorite venue is the Stavich Bike Trail; twelve miles long and eight feet wide, and paved with blacktop and sealed to provide a smooth, safe riding surface. It runs parallel to the scenic Mahoning River and the rails of the former Youngstown-New Castle streetcar line. Originating in Struthers, Ohio, it continues through Lowellville on its path to New Castle in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. This trail is also owned and operated by our county and managed by the Lawrence County Cycling Club.
Over rolling hills, through farmland and wooded countryside, the Trail is open for bicycle riding, hiking, walking and jogging in the spring, summer and fall; in the winter, the Trail is typically used for cross-county skiing. Motor vehicles are not permitted. Hours of use are from sunrise to sunset. The Trail was dedicated in June 1983 and designated a National Recreational Trail in 2003.
West Park Nature Center is a one hundred eight-acre county-owned park which boasts beautiful cut-stone entrances, lovely meadows brimming with wild flowers, stands of mature trees, a small stream system, large wooded areas and several acres of wetlands. Along with these come many species of wildlife birds such as finches, red-winged black birds, mallards and wood ducks; mammals including deer, rabbits, red and gray squirrels; small reptiles and insects such as frogs, newts, dragon flies and butterflies of all varieties. Park Harbor Biking and hiking trails, observation areas, informational kiosks, a blue bird trail with nesting boxes and paving of existing roadways and parking lot are just a few other improvements at the park.
Did you know that the county also owns three boat launches? Bevington, along the Beaver River in Wayne Township; Millennium, along the Shenango River in Neshannock Township; and McQuiston, also along the Shenango River in Pulaski Township are all county owned.
Did you know we have an ATV/RV resort where ATV and dirt bike riders can enjoy 650 acres of trails, some underground, for the amateur or the enthusiast? I truly believe if you are bored in Lawrence County, it is your own fault. Become involved! There is something for everyone.
These are just a few recreational examples of how you can enjoy outside adventures in Lawrence County. To find out more information, stop by our office at 229 S. Jefferson St. in New Castle, call 724-654-8408 or visit our website www.VisitLawrenceCounty.com