Jennings Environmental Education Center


A volunteer teaches children at Jennings Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania.

Educational Programs

The center provides a wide variety of activity-oriented programs for students, teachers, adult groups and individuals.

 

Jennings Environmental Education Center is one of several state parks specifically dedicated to providing environmental education and interpretation to the community. A variety of programs that increase knowledge and awareness of the beauty and importance of our natural resources are available for children, teachers and the general public. 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.

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Hiking   -  Picnicking   -  Snowshoeing   --  Cross-country Skiing  


Picnicking: Two picnic areas 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. Its pavilion seats 50 people and may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. If unreserved, the picnic pavilion is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Hiking: 5 miles of trails
Fall colored leaves drape the forest and a bridge at Jennings Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania.Jennings offers many hiking opportunities that traverse varying terrain and diverse habitats. Visitors may walk through over 300 acres of forest and prairie. The trail system is designed as a series of loops, with trail signs at every intersection, making it possible to choose a variety of hiking experiences. Trails are designed for foot traffic only. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Pets are permitted, but must remain on a leash at all times. Some trails are appropriate for cross-country skiing.

Woodland Trails

Black Cherry Trail: 0.5 mile, easiest hiking
This loop trail travels through both upland and bottomland and is good habitat for spring wildflowers, ferns and birds. The trail follows Big Run, a small stream that flows through the park for 0.12 mile.

Deer Trail: 0.35 mile, easiest hiking
Accessed by following Blazing Star Trail for 0.22 mile, this short, flat, wide loop trail travels through thick, brushy habitat. A demonstration scale deer exclosure has been erected along this trail.

Glacier Ridge Trail: 0.31 mile, easiest hiking
This trail is part of a 15-mile trail that links Jennings to Moraine State Park. It travels though some of the most scenic woodlands of Jennings. More information about this trail is available at the center office.

Hepatica Trail: 0.26 mile, easiest hiking
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, easiest hiking
Starting in the prairie, this trail soon enters a mixed hardwood forest of predominately oak and hickory. The dry forest soon drops into the damp, scenic Big Run valley, providing an opportunity to observe barred owls, before rising again to meet Deer Trail.

Oakwoods Trail: 1.20 miles, easiest hiking
This is the longest trail at Jennings and covers varying terrain and several different types of habitat, including an area recently influenced by beaver. It can be accessed from Deer Trail or Massasauga Trail. Unique to this trail are several manmade 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, easiest hiking
Starting west of the center office 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, easiest hiking
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, easiest hiking
Accessed by following Woodwhisper Trail for 0.04 mile, this trail connects the center office to Black Cherry Trail and passes by the remains of a 19th century sawmill.

Ridge Trail: 0.68 mile, more difficult hiking
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. Large boulders and rocky terrain highlight this steep trail.

Wetlands Kiosk Trail: 0.04 mile, easiest hiking
Accessed by following Woodwhisper Trail for 0.08 mile, this short, extension trail leads to an interpretive kiosk overlooking a passive wetland treatment site.

Woodwhisper Trail: 0.16 mile, easiest hiking
Popular with people with strollers, this paved, flat loop travels through an upland, mixed hardwood forest.

North Country National Scenic Trail This national scenic trail passes through Jennings and utilizes a number of the woodland trails, including Glacier Ridge, Ridge and Black Cherry. This blue-blazed trail system links 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. www.nps.gov/noco.

Prairie Trails

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. Staying on the mowed paths and keeping alert can reduce the chances of an unexpected encounter

Blazing Star Trail: 0.22 mile, easiest hiking
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 mile, easiest hiking
The interpretive signs continue on this short loop 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.


Winter Activities


Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.


A snow-covered bridge leads out into the prarie at Jennings Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania.Cross-country Skiing: All trails north of PA 528 (prairie side) are recommended for cross-country skiing.


Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing is popular at Jennings. Snowshoes are available to borrow Monday through Saturday when there is adequate snow cover.


Access for People with Disabilities


The ADA symbol indicates that this activity or structure is ADA accessible.If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.