By John A. Nau
It’s mid October and the air has begun its inevitable plummet into the cold of winter. However, first we get to experience the beauty of fall when nature dawns her gown of golds, oranges, yellows, reds and browns. As she dances through the chilling days she paints the trees with a picturesque luster to steal your breath. Being locked in the city, however, can leave you separated from this unfolding glory. And yet, a short 30 minute drive can deliver you to Raccoon State Park. I can think of no better time of the year to enjoy this state park than the fall season
Raccoon began its existence as a health resort called the Frankfurt Mineral Springs in the mid 19th Century. At one time the facility boasted a hotel, a dance hall, livery stable as well as numerous guest cottages. Eventually the resort fell on hard times and closed in the early 20th Century. The location found rebirth during the Great Depression as a Public Works Project designed to get people back to work and money into the economy. Although little remains of this early resort the park boasts over 7000 acres, a picturesque lake for swimming, fishing, limited boating, hiking trails for day hiking and for the more serious overnight adventure. There are campsites, modern cottages, rustic cottages, picnicking locations, horseback trails, and so much more for those who look to nature for their relaxation and to enjoy the beauty of fall.
The park has generous hours being open all year long from sun-up to sun-down. The modern cabins and Lakeside Lodge are available for rent from the second Friday in June until the third Thursday in August. These cabins can sleep 8 comfortably and provide all the modern amenities while still granting you access to natures beauty. The rustic campsites are open year round though winter storms can prove hazardous to entry.
Looking to back pack or day hike, well, the park provides excellent and interesting trails complete with two camping sites. The trails are well blazed and have difficulty ranging from beginner to advanced. There are multi-use trails for those who enjoy mountain biking and cross country skiing as well. Permits are available for those overnight stays as your safety will always be the first consideration for park personnel. After all, if something happens along the trail you would want someone to know you went missing.
Boats are limited to electric motors only, but the beauty of the man made lake will prove for an incredible time for family and weekend warriors alike. Hunting in over 7000 acres and at specific times of the year are accommodated within the park, and as always safety for all members of the public are tantamount.
There are a plethora of activities within Raccoon State Park, and as we reach the peak of the glorious fall season I will definitely find myself making the 30 minute journey from Pittsburgh. I can think of few other places to go and enjoy these last fleeting moments before the snow flies. So if you have never been to Raccoon now would be the best time to go and enjoy. See you there soon.