A couple of months ago I posted on my Facebook that I hadn’t hiked all summer & it was something I was really hoping I’d be able to squeeze in before the warm weather left. My running coach, Matt commented & suggested we get a group together & head out to McConnells Mill for a day & picnic afterwards. Everything is better in a group! We ended up gathering about 13 people together which was an even better turn out than I had hoped for!
McConnells Mill is about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh. According to PA-DCNR website, “McConnells Mill State Park, in Lawrence County, encompasses 2,546 acres of the spectacular Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Created by the draining of glacial lakes thousands of years ago, the gorge has steeps sides and the valley floor is littered with huge boulders and is a national natural landmark. A gristmill built in the 1800s is open for tours. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round.“
I haven’t been hiking anywhere in a long time & I was really excited to check this place out. We all met around 10:30am & Matt planned for us to hike about 4 miles round trip. There was zero cell service where we were at which I kind of loved. We all could talk to each other & didn’t have to worry about someone’s face being in their phones the entire time. Most of the trail was single track, I would say. It was rocky & there were a lot of roots sticking out of the ground but this made it fun! I don’t think I once looked up when we were moving, but having to maneuver around things made it interesting. We stopped a few times on the way out to take pictures of the beautiful rocks, water, & nature.
On the way back, we seemed to move a lot quicker.. I think everyone was getting hungry & we wanted to picnic ASAP! Once we got back to the beginning of the trail where we parked our cars, we all caravan’d about 10 minutes to a great place where we set up our spread of food. We set up right down by the creek & it was pretty cool. Everyone brought something – we had sandwiches, brownies, chocolate zucchini muffins, fruit, chips/salsa, fresh tomatoes & of course.. beer. Everything was so good! We spent an hour or two down by the water & then packed up to head home around 4pm.
All in all, it was a really nice day away from the hustle & bustle of the city & day-to-day life. We are from all different pace groups & we normally don’t get a chance to really talk to each other on Saturday mornings so it was a great chance to get to know each other on a different level. We had some crazy discussions, but what happens on the hike stays on the hike 😉
Where are your favorite places to hike around Pittsburgh? Have you ventured out at all this summer? What is your favorite picnic food?