Jennings Environmental Education Center
Jennings offers a full range of educational programs. A unique attraction at the center is its relict prairie, which includes the spectacular and well-known prairie flower, the blazing star. The relict prairie ecosystem is rare in Pennsylvania. Visitors should try to visit in late July or early August when the pairie is in full bloom.
Jennings Environmental Education Center is one of several state parks specifically dedicated to provide environmental education and interpretation to the community. A variety of programs are available for children, teachers, and the general public that increase knowledge and awareness of the beauty and importance of our natural resources. By taking some time to explore Jennings through its trail network or community programs, visitors can enjoy the outdoors while learning the skills needed to be good stewards of Pennsylvania’s outstanding natural resources.
Jennings provides a unique combination of prairie and forest, which offers a wide array of resource and education opportunities. One of the park’s main features, the 20-acre prairie ecosystem, is home to distinctive prairie plants and the endangered massasauga rattlesnake. The most noteworthy and spectacular prairie flower is the blazing star. Jennings was the first reserve established in Pennsylvania to protect an individual plant species and remains the only public and protected prairie in the Commonwealth.
Picnicking: Two picnic areas are available and provide tables and restrooms. The Woodland Picnic Area is behind the center office at the beginning of the Woodland Trails System. The Prairie Picnic Pavilion Area overlooks the relict prairie and has a pavilion that seats 50 people. The picnic pavilion may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. If unreserved it is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Make a reservation.
Hiking: 5 miles of trails
Black Cherry Trail - (0.5 mile) – moderate: This loop trail travels through both upland and bottomland habitat and is popular for spring wildflowers, ferns and birding. The trail follows Big Run, a small stream that flows through the park, for 0.12 miles.
Deer Trail - (0.35 mile) – easy: Accessed by following Blazing Star Trail for .22 miles, this short, flat loop trail travels through thick, brushy habitat. Deer can often be seen from this trail.
Glacier Ridge Trail - (0.31 mile) – difficult: This trail travels through some of the most scenic woodlands of Jennings. This 15-mile trail links Jennings to Moraine State Park. More information about this trail is available at the center office.
Hepatica Trail - (0.26 mile) - moderate: Spring wildflowers, such as the fragile hepatica, can be seen along this connecting trail that links Oakwoods Trail to Glacier Ridge Trail.
Massasauga Trail - (0.47 mile) – moderate: Starting in the prairie but soon entering a mixed hardwood forest of predominately oak and hickory, this trail provides an excellent opportunity to view squirrel activity. The dry forest soon drops into the damp, scenic Big Run Valley for a short time before rising again to meet Deer Trail.
Oakwoods Trail - (1.20 mile) – moderate: This is the longest trail at Jennings and covers varying terrain and several different types of habitat. It can be accessed from Deer Trail or Massasauga Trail. Unique to this trail are several man-made pits. It is believed that the pits were excavated in the 19th century for ore bearing clay, which was taken to local iron furnaces.
Old Elm Trail - (0.25 mile) - easy: Starting west of the center and looping back to it, this trail passes through an area of the park once dominated by large elm trees. Most succumbed to Dutch elm disease in the 1930s, leaving nothing but rotting logs behind.
Old Field Trail - (0.18 mile) – easy: A connecting trail which links Deer Trail to Oakwoods Trail, Old Field Trail passes through an area dominated by hawthorns and other small shrubs. This is evidence that the area was a farm field many years ago.
Old Mill Trail - (0.14 mile) – easy: Accessed by following Woodwhisper Trail for .04 miles, this trail connects the center office to Black Cherry Trail and passes by the remains of a 19th century saw mill.
Ridge Trail - (0.68 mile) – difficult: This rough, wooded trail passes through the only area open to hunting in the park and can be an interesting extension to Black Cherry Trail. The steep ridge that this trail follows is actually a lateral moraine left over from the last glacial advance 14,000 years ago.
Wetlands Kiosk Trail - (0.04 mile) – easy: Accessed by following Woodwhisper Trail for .08 miles, this short extension trail leads to a kiosk overlooking a passive wetland treatment site.
Woodwhisper Trail - (0.16 mile) – easy: Popular with people with strollers and those with a disability, this paved, flat, loop trail travels through an upland, mixed hardwood forest.
The North Country National Scenic Trail passes through the park and utilizes a number of the woodland trails including, Glacier Ridge Trail, Ridge Trail and Black Cherry Trail. The North Country National Scenic Trail system is identified by blue blazes. This unique trail system will eventually link North Dakota to New York traveling through seven states for a distance of over 3,200 miles. More information on the North Country National Scenic Trail is available at the center office.
The eastern prairie is a rare ecosystem that is home to the endangered massasauga rattlesnake. Although this small and reclusive snake is very timid, it is venomous and visitors should be careful when walking through its home. Remain on the mowed paths and stay alert to reduce the chances of an encounter.
Blazing Star Trail - (0.22 miles) – easy: Named for the beautiful wildflower that turns the prairie purple in late July and early August, this self-guiding interpretive trail travels through the middle of the prairie. Follow the interpretive signs and discover how the prairie was formed and why it is unique.
Prairie Loop Trail - (0.28 miles) – easy: The interpretive signs continue on this short loop trail that can be accessed from Blazing Star Trail. This trail is recommended for viewing wildflowers in the summer and fall and for cross-country skiing in the winter.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing: All 5 miles of the hiking trails can be skied and snowshoed with proper snow cover.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.