Mountain Laurel: Pennsylvania’s State Flower
Mountain Laurel is Pennsylvania’s state flower and perhaps the most beautiful of native American shrubs. These large rhododendron-like leaves remain dark green throughout the year and in late May to mid June they can be seen blossoming throughout Pennsylvania’s forestlands. But your best bet is to visit the beautiful Laurel Fields in Clear Creek State Forest, just north of Brookville in Jefferson County.
FIELD OF DREAMS
The Laurel Fields became a popular attraction when a regional natural gas company purchased the property from farmers in 1929. The company allowed the Flower POWER fields to revert to a dense concentration of mountain laurel. The fields began to have such local significance that the company opened the fields to the public in 1935 and acquired by the state’s Bureau of Forestry in 2006. The Laurel Fields welcome your visit Memorial Day through Labor Day. However, June is the best time to see the flowers in bloom.
Festivals and Races
The first laurel festival was held at the site in 1936. The festival became an annual community event, featuring entertainment as well as the crowning of the laurel queen. The Brookville Laurel Festival has grown and now takes place on Main Street in Brookville. They continue the tradition with the pageant and have added a week full of events to appeal to everyone’s interest with themed days including arts, heritage, manufacturing, emergency services, sports, and more. Follow their facebook page for more information.
The Fat Tire Challenge Mountain Bike Race is a popular event held on the third Saturday in June each year at the Laurel Fields. Coursing around rocks, roots, and obstacles, the 14+ mile race is both challenging and fun. Experts can complete an additional 10-mile loop. Kids are welcome, too! A half-mile loop of dirt trail racing around the Laurel Fields is a fun experience, teaching our youth bicycle safety and engage them to become bigger participants in mountain biking activities. Follow their facebook page for more information. New for 2018, add a multi-sport dimension to your race day or bring along a runner for a full day of trail fun at the Beartown ROCKS Trail Race. This 5+ mile run will start and end at the Laurel Fields, taking runners through Beartown Rocks and surrounding forestlands. Follow their facebook page for more information.
Make a day of it…
In addition to the Laurel Fields, mountain laurels and rhododendron abound throughout 16,000-acre Clear Creek State Forest, which has miles of trails to explore. Beartown Rocks is a popular attraction with an amazing drift of house-sized boulders created by glaciers. There is also a diverse collection of trees and a wide variety of birds and wildlife to see. Equestrian and mountain bike riding is permitted.