A key area of focus for the Loyalhanna Watershed Association is the conservation of land…wetlands, farmlands, greenways, forests and open space. Currently, LWA protects close to 300 acres of land throughout the watershed for the purpose of conservation. As an organization, LWA will continue to partner with area conservation agencies including the Western PA Conservancy and Westmoreland Land Trust to protect strategically located parcels of land for conservation purposes.
The Watershed Farm Project
One of LWA’s most well-known protected parcels is the historic McConnaughey Farm purchased in 2000. The farm is currently used to graze grass-feed beef cattle and serves as a breathtaking gateway into the town of Ligonier. The Ligonier Country Market takes place at the foot of its hillside each Saturday morning throughout the summer months.
The Watershed Farm Project serves to enhance the quality of life for Ligonier Valley residents and visitors by providing a focal point and common meeting area for educational programs on the environment, our watershed and sustainable agriculture and design, as well as offer recreational opportunities and benefits.
In order to maintain the land as it was intended, partnerships with the PA Game Commission, United States Department of Agriculture, and United States Fish & Wildlife Service were formed to enhance the existing pastureland and complete needed riparian and wetland rehabilitation on the entire farm parcel.
Loyalhanna Nature Trail
The Loyalhanna Nature Trail is one mile in length, covering approximately 18-acres of flood plain between the Loyalhanna Creek and Mill Creek. As you walk, you will encounter many species of plants and animals, as well as different ecological and geological phenomena. This section of the Loyalhanna Creek that the trail follows has been designated as a delayed harvest trout fishing area and is well stocked by the PA Fish & Boat Commission.
The history of the trail is very unique. The first major structure encountered on the trail is the historic Swinging Bridge. This footbridge has allowed inhabitants to cross the Loyalhanna safely since the early 1920s. The Ligonier Valley Railroad also passed through this area from December 1877 through August 1952. Recent improvements to the trail include the addition of picnic tables and benches, a storage shed, the creation of a new trailhead kiosk map and the publication of an educational brochure available for public use.
The Loyalhanna Nature Trail has been made possible through cooperative agreements with: Ligonier Borough, Ligonier Township, Western PA Conservancy and the LWA, who maintains the trail.
The nature trail is open year-round, from dawn until dusk, and is located along Route 30 East across from the Ligonier Giant Eagle. Visitors are welcome to walk, run, bike, hike or ski. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.