July 2024

Week 6: Scotia Barrens

Hello ClearWater,

These first weeks of summer have flown by, but there is so much exploring left to do! This week, slow down the pace, get outdoors and escape to the cooling shade of the woods. Centred Outdoors is thrilled to invite you to a week of free, guided outings and a special Wellness Wednesday program at the captivating Scotia Barrens. This is your perfect chance to explore, learn, and have fun in one of Centre County's most unique and ecologically rich areas.

Deep pools in the Scotia Barrens are remnants of iron ore mining activity.

The Scotia Barrens, also known as Pennsylvania State Game Lands Number 176, is unlike many other recreational areas of our region. This rare pitch pine-scrub oak habitat is a haven for a diverse array of plant and animal species. Scotia Barrens also boasts a fascinating history. Iron ore mining operations had a significant impact on the land and mining pits are a feature of many Scotia trails. Imagine the bustling village of Scotia, once a thriving company town, as our guides share intriguing stories about its past. Come along on one of three guided outings and you'll discover the important role of fire in maintaining this habitat, the various species that call it home, and the ongoing conservation efforts to preserve its ecological integrity.

For those who love a creative twist, register soon for Wellness Wednesday: Art in Nature. Ann Taylor-Schimdt will introduce basic drawing techniques and lead the group in a study of trees from a perspective of mindful observation. This event is a wonderful way to relax and let your artistic side flourish, inspired by the serene beauty of the barrens. Limited free transportation is also available for Wellness Wednesday (see the event registration for details).

All events will start from Graysdale Park, so ample parking will be available. Mark your calendars and join us next week for a healthy, educational, and delightful outdoor experience. We can't wait to explore, learn, and create with you at the Scotia Barrens!

See you on the trails!

The Centred Outdoors team

Questions? Email adventure@clearwaterconservancy.org

About Land Conservation

To learn more about our impactful land conservation efforts and how you can contribute to preserving our natural landscapes for future generations, visit ClearWaterConservancy.org/land-conservation.

This Week with Centred Outdoors

Guided Outings at Scotia Barrens

Sunday, July 7 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Thursday, July 11 at 6 p.m.

Walk through the past as we explore an area rich in history and ecological significance. Take a short excursion through Graysdale Park and into State Game Lands 176 (Scotia Barrens). Nature enthusiasts can find unique ecosystems composed of barrens habitat and the rapidly draining soils above karst geologies along the eastern reaches. Learn about the mining operations once conducted here and the efforts to conserve this rare habitat and vital source of drinking water for nearby communities.

Event Details

Wellness Wednesday: Art in Nature

July 10 at 6 p.m. Registration Required. Transportation Available.

Get out of your head and into a tree! Led by Ann Taylor-Schmidt, this program uses the tree identification process of drawing and recording patterns as a mindfulness technique. Ann will introduce some drawing techniques, then you will find a tree to focus on. Observing and asking the right questions is key to this activity and being fully present is our reward. After spending time with one tree and exploring its features, we will learn the questions that need to be answered to help identify the species. 

Parking at Graysdale Park. Limited transportation is available, see Wellness Details for more information.

Wellness Details

What to Expect and How to Prepare


Graysdale Park (Scotia Barrens access point)

880 Grays Woods Blvd

Port Matilda PA 16870

Guided Outing Dates & Times:

Sunday, July 7 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Thursday, July 11 at 6 p.m.

Guided Outing Length and Terrain

  • Centred Outdoors Outing Map
  • Distance: 2.0 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Ascent: 133 ft.
  • Terrain: Outings will follow narrow dirt pathways through Graysdale Park and into State Game Lands 176 (Scotia Barrens). Mostly flat trails with a few short inclines; some tree roots and rocks make terrain uneven.

Maps, Links, and Directions

Graysdale Park Parking for all events.

Centred Outdoors Outing Map

ClearWater Conservancy Scotia Barrens Conservation Project

Scotia Trails and History Map Purple Lizard Maps A great resource for exploring on your own! Purchase at ClearWater Conservancy or Appalachian Outdoors.

Scotia History (Centre County Historical Society)

What to bring:

See our Tips for a safe and successful outing. We encourage all participants to remember:

  • Bug spray, and/or long pants, sleeves, hats or bug nets for insect and tick protection
  • A full bottle of water, at least 32 oz. per adult
  • Sturdy walking shoes
  • Sun protection such as a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • A light snack to enjoy during or after the event

Looking for other places to explore nearby? Check out Soaring Eagle Wetland or Tom Tudek Memorial Park!

Explore More

Like a Naturalist!

Kids can borrow a Jr. Naturalist backpack at any of our guided outings. Ask for one when you sign in!

Discover plants, animals, insects, or anything else you find on the trail. Record your observations and share what you find. Our event leaders will show you how to use everything contained in the backpacks, and you'll learn so much more about the natural world at every Centred Outdoors destination!

Sock Sunday

Sponsored by Appalachian Outdoors

Sign-in at any of our 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Sunday Outings and be entered to win a free pair of Darn Tough® socks!

Drawing held at the end of each guided outing; certificate can be redeemed at Appalachian Outdoors, 131 S. Allen St., State College.

Gear Library

Hike in Comfort

Child carriers, trekking poles, and day packs are available by reserving the item prior to any Guided Outing. These items can make any outing safer and more enjoyable. We also have Nocs binoculars and reusable water bottles for use at our events - just ask at the sign-in table!

Coming Up Next

Guided Outings at Dry Hollow

July 14 & 18. Warriors Mark, PA

Often referred to as “Scotia West,” Dry Hollow is a 1,271 acre area managed by Rothrock State Forest and contains several Natural Heritage Areas. Home to barrens habitat and unique geological features including a massive sand pit, Dry Hollow was conserved through a partnership between ClearWater Conservancy and PA DCNR. While here, walk or bike along a mix of wide gravel roads and foot paths through young forest and diverse terrain.

Destination Details

Have You Joined Us This Season?

Your Experience Matters!

We invite you to participate in our anonymous survey about Centred Outdoors guided hikes and activities. This brief survey helps us communicate our success with grant partners and stake holders and allows us to continue to alter our programming to better serve our community. 

Thank you for taking the time to provide your valuable feedback!

Participant Survey

Centred Outdoors is a program of ClearWater Conservancy, made possible with financial assistance from an Environmental Stewardship Fund grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. Financial assistance for the program is also provided by the Hamer Foundation, Mount Nittany Health, Richard King Mellon Foundation, and community organizations.

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