Wildflowers can be found everywhere and depending on where you live during all seasons. In Pennsylvania, there is a wealth of wildflower patches. Wildflowers begin blooming in early March, and we enjoy wildflowers till late fall when the frosts arrive.
The best time to view an abundance of wildflowers is May through early autumn. National Wildflower Week is held each year the first full week of May. What better time to go out and enjoy nature and hunt for some beautiful wildflowers?
Wildflowers grow naturally and can grow just about anywhere. Some grow in areas where there is lots of moisture. Others grow on rocks, some in meadows, and some in the woods.
Wildflowers prefer a space with full direct sun with a minimum of 6 hours per day.
You can identify wildflowers by looking at several things:
- The petals — how many and what shape.
- Flower arrangement — single flower, several flowers, or a cluster
- Size of the flower
- Color of the flower
- When the flower blooms
- Height of the plant
- Leaf petiole or stalk
- Leaf arrangement
- Leaf edges
- Leaf Veins
- Simple or Compound leaves
Most of the photos included are spring wildflowers. They sprout up through the brown leaves on the forest floor or rocks with a bit of moss. When they first start blooming, you will see one here and then, and if you return a week later, they may cover the ground.
As the season progresses, more and more flowers are in bloom. In Pennsylvania, you can find wildflowers in meadows, along the road, beside trails, and in preserves. It is pretty hard to walk outdoors in Pennsylvania without passing by colorful blooms.
Let’s look at some of my favorite places in Pennsylvania to find wildflowers.
1. Warriors Path State Park, Saxton
Near the path used by Native Americans during raids and wars in southern Pennsylvania is Warriors Path State Park. The 349-acre park is a day-use park open from dawn till dusk.
The meandering Raystown Branch of the Juniata River binds three sides of the parkland. The best place to see wildflowers is the path along the river.
You can park at Pavillion Two and walk down toward the river. You will see a grass-covered path to the left that takes you along the river to the end of the park.
Or you can start at the other end and go beyond Pavillion One and bear to your right, take the gravel road down to the water. Near this end of the park, you will find picnic tables along the river.
All along the path, you will see an abundance of wildflowers, often in clusters covering the ground. Some are very small.
Spring wildflowers you can see in Warriors Path State Park include Virginia Bluebells, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Violet, Grape Hyacinth, Marsh Marigolds, Rue Anemone, Speedwell, Sweet White Violets, and many more.
This is a great place to look for wildflowers. They are plentiful, and it is tranquil and uncrowded.
2. H And BT Rails To Trails
An abandoned railroad right-of-way turned into a rail-trail provides public recreational access along the Juniata River. The H and BT Rails to Trails is excellent for hiking, bicycling, and enjoying nature. Some unique wildflowers grow along the 14-mile trail from Tatesville to the Red Cut area beyond Riddlesburg.
In the Red Cut area, you can find an abundance of Dutchman’s Breeches blooming. These are white flowers that look like a pair of upside-down trousers.
There are also Wild Columbine growing along the rocks.
3. Trough Creek State Park
A scenic gorge formed by the great Trough Creek as it cut through Terrace Mountain on its way to Raystown Lake is known as Trough Creek State Park.
Most of the trails in the 541-acre park are rugged, but the hikes take you to Rainbow Falls and Balanced Rock. Along the way, you will see all kinds of plants and wildflowers.
There are 12 miles of trails; some are steep and narrow with rocks and roots, some follow rock ledges and narrow ravines. The trails in this state park are for the sure-footed.
The trails I recommend for viewing wildflowers are Balanced Rock Trail, Cemetery Trail, Laurel Run Trail, and Rhododendron Trail. Each of these are short trails. The longest is Laurel Run at 1.8 miles.
Regardless of which trail you take, wildflowers will be numerous, and if you are there in May, you will see groves of Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel growing naturally.
4. Ohiopyle State Park
Another beautiful state park full of abundant spring wildflowers is Ohiopyle State Park. If you park near Cucumber Falls, you can view the falls and the wildflowers. Follow the Great Gorge Trail, and you will see even more varieties such as red and white trilliums.
5. Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, Western PA
Stretching from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, you will find wildflowers all along the trail. Ohiopyle State Park, mentioned above, is along the route. The Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail offers a colorful wildflower showing spring, summer, and fall.
6. Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve, Conestoga
More than 70 different species of wildflowers have been recorded at Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve in Conestoga. Bordering the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, you will find Susquehanna trillium, squirrel corn, jack-in-the-pulpit, bloodroot, and many more wildflowers on the 90-acre preserve.
7. Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, New Hope
An area designated as a wildflower space in New Hope, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve has native wildflowers for all seasons. You are sure to see an abundance of flowers as you walk the paths. Guided walking tours are available. Be aware there is an entry fee.
We visited in the summer. The black-eyed susans were plentiful at the time. They start blooming in June and bloom into fall.
8. Ricketts Glen State Park, Benton
Wildflowers are abundant in the Endless Mountains Region. Ricketts Glen State Park has spring, summer, and early fall wildflowers. You can see them along the trails, especially along slopes and wet areas and in the meadows on the park’s northern boundary.
The region around Ricketts Glen State Park includes State Game Lands and State Forests. The entire area is the perfect habitat for wildflowers.
9. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pocono Mountains
If you enjoy viewing waterfalls along with wildflowers, The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a terrific destination for you. You will find a plethora of wildflowers as you walk the Hornbecks Creek Trail.
You can also see flowers along Dingmans Falls trail, which primarily consists of an ADA-compliant flat boardwalk.
10. Raystown Lake, Central PA, Raystown Lake Region
The area around Raystown Lake blooms with wildflowers in late spring and summer. They are particularly noticeable around the Seven Points Recreation Area.
The Greenside Pathway, a recycled rubber tire trail, provides an easy bouncy walk as you watch for wildflowers throughout the area.
For more information on visiting the Raystown Lake region, check out this article.
11. The Wildflower Reserve, Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown
More than 700 species of plants have been documented at the Wildflower Reserve adjacent to Raccoon Creek State Park.
Violets and skunk cabbage are plentiful in this reserve. Some rare findings include harbinger-of-spring and salt-and-pepper.
12. Cedar Creek Park, Belle Vernon
The yellow trout lily is prevalent in Cedar Creek Park, along with the snow trillium. These can be found in colonies near the mouth of the gorge.
13. Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area, Near Slippery Rock
Known for having an incredible display of spring wildflowers, the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area is owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
If you follow the 1-mile trail along the creek, you will see various spectacular wildflowers, including the great white trillium, bluebells, squirrel corn, dwarf ginseng, and plenty of spring beauties. You can also view a rare spring bloom, white fawn lily. It is located near the entrance.
14. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton
Many visit this sanctuary to see the huge birds and enjoy the stunning view, but there are many wildflowers to enjoy too. A deer-excluding fence protects the wildflower gardens at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. There are benches within the gardens to relax and enjoy the view.
15. Winslow Hill, Benezette
A prime grazing pasture for PA’s Elk Herd, Winslow Hill, has a fantastic showing of spring through summer wildflowers. The elk thrive on the grasses and wildflowers in the meadows. You have the pleasure of enjoying two majestic views, wildflowers blooming and the elk grazing.
There are many excellent locations in Pennsylvania to check out wildflowers across the state; you are sure to find one near you that showcases the natural beauty of wildflowers.
Some trails permit dogs, but if you take a four-legged friend, make sure you keep them on a leash, they stay on the trail, and you pick up after them.
Ticks are common in these areas. So be sure to check yourself and your dogs after walking in the wooded and wet areas.
Many places where wildflowers flourish are wet areas, especially if you are visiting in the spring. Make sure you wear boots or close-toed shoes that can handle the mud, like waterproof Keen hiking boots.
Some wildflowers are rare, so you must use care when visiting. Stay on the trails to preserve the ecosystems.
When looking for wildflowers, be careful not to trespass on private property.