Erie, PA: Girard Loop

Discover the roots of the oil industry: western Pennsylvania.

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During the oil boom of the 1860s, Oil Creek Canyon bustled with wells and refineries, choking the corridor with smoke and denuding the forested slopes—a far cry from today’s state park, where nature reigns again. Tour these historic backwoods on the rolling, 36-mile Girard Loop, which runs between the east and west slopes of Oil Creek Canyon through tranquil broadleaf-hemlock forests, steep hollows, sparkling runs, rock features, and waterfalls. The trail also has shelters, basic amenities, and a museum at Drake Well, site of the world’s first commercial oil well. Another option is the 26-mile loop between Petroleum Centre and Drake Well to the park’s north, but with five bridges and a creekside bike trail, you can customize your trip. Camping is limited to designated sites, one on each side of the canyon; reservation and fee required.

Info: Reservations: 814-676-5915. Download a park map at
Hike provided by Rhonda and George Ostertag, authors of Hiking Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition (FalconGuide)


Drake Well Museum

Location: 41.6112785, -79.6582947