Blog Archives

Lakeside and Treetops

By: Chrissy Ludwikowski

As the days become shorter (and the work days seemingly longer), it can be hard for families to make time to be together, and one’s mind doesn’t normally put colder days hand-in-hand with outdoor activities. Fortunately, we live in a city that has opportunities available year-round to invoke our sense of adventure, even during our daily grind (and don’t worry, these adventures will get your blood pumping to keep you mighty warm)!

Thanks to Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh, my family has adopted a love for everything that the outdoors has to offer,

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Searching For Fall – Photos by Nanci Goldberg

The start of fall this year was less colorful (and much warmer) than usual. Earlier last month Volunteer Trip Leader, Nanci Goldberg, drove up to Linn Run State Park in search of SOMETHING that looked and felt like fall. Below are some images Nanci would love to share with Venture Outdoors blog readers in the hopes that this makes everyone’s fall a little more colorful!


Fall Photo 1 - Nanci GoldbergFall Photos 2 - Nanci GoldbergFall Photos 3 - Nanci GoldbergFall Photos 4 - Nanci Goldberg

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Hiking Toward A Haunting: Ghost Hunting

By: Ken Sikora

H.P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. Have you ever been alone in a quiet room and heard someone whisper your name? Maybe you were on a late-night walk through the woods, you see what could be a human-like figure standing still, looking back at you.  It’s probably nothing you tell yourself. Then it moves. Perhaps your mind is just playing tricks on you, or maybe these are experiences of the paranormal.

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Dog Hike

By: Samantha Sektnan

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and dog owner like myself, then you too may have considered ways to include your furry canine in your outdoor activities. A hiking trip is a great way to get some exercise, explore the world around us, and bond with your dog too. In order to bring your dog on a hiking or backpacking trip, here is a guide on everything that you need to bring and complete in order to prepare your dog for the trip.

It is important that your dog has proper obedience training in order to handle the possibility of seeing other people and animals on the trip and to follow your commands and stay with you if you are able and willing to let your dog off-leash.


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Why You Should Take a Vacation in Nature and Go Camping:

By: Grace Groeger

Spending time in nature can do numerous things for you. It can restore your mental energy and health, it can help relieve your stress, it can improve your concentration, and it can boost your immune system. Today the drive to go outdoors is becoming “cool” again. Along with that, more and more people are choosing to go on vacations to spend time in nature. If you don’t totally agree with this let me help persuade you.

1. They are affordable…

Taking a vacation in nature is a wallet’s best friend. Just think about it.

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Put-in-Bay, An Island Getaway in your Back Yard

By: Jacob Tumminello

Put-in-Bay is a small village located on South Bass Island just north of Sandusky, Ohio. The town was constructed in 1830 and originally named for only the bay in Lake Erie. Although the name may imply a man-made creation, the islands were naturally created by the geographic evolution of the earth. I had the privilege of exploring this strange little island getaway on a trip with my family and was surprised by how much there is to do in such a condensed place.

Sunset Put In Bay

After stepping off the ferry that took us from Sandusky to the island,

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Summer Tree ID

By: Samantha Sektnan, Communications Intern

Attending the “Summer Tree ID” program was a great way to start off being a part of the Venture Outdoors community. Taking an easy stroll in Frick Park as we learned tips and tricks to identify the trees around us was something I never imagined myself doing before joining this organization, but I am definitely glad I did it. As someone with literally had zero knowledge on how to identify trees, local ecologist Henry Schumacher – who led the trip – had a lot of work on his hands in order to teach me the basics..


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Venturing Outdoors: How I Learned to Appreciate Nature by Working at Kayak Pittsburgh

By: Alexander Downing

Since August 2014 I’ve worked as an attendant at Kayak Pittsburgh’s North Park location. This means I’m one of the smiling faces in the green shirts pushing boats into the water and handing out PFDs and paddles. It also means I get to look out on the beautiful North Park Lake for hours on end. As it turns out, that’s been the most memorable part of the job and the catalyst for a change in how I view nature.

As a kid, the primary role nature played in my life was as the location for sports.

 » Read more about: Venturing Outdoors: How I Learned to Appreciate Nature by Working at Kayak Pittsburgh  »

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Biking– It’s A Family Thing

By: Kenna Gubler

To grow up in a family where everyone has the same love for the outdoors is something that can be hard to find these days. Luckily, my family loves everything that the outdoors has to offer. My parents constantly had my brothers and me outside starting at a very young age. We were first introduced to the outdoors through participating in a variety of sports that most of the other kids I knew played as well. As we got older, my brothers and I would push ourselves to try newer and more exciting things involving the outdoors.

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Meet the Fisherlady, LeeAnne Conway

By: Jacob Tumminello

The 2017 summer season has been extremely successful for Venture Outdoors thanks to the help of hard working staff members, volunteers, and college interns. One of those interns who is also responsible for taking pictures and capturing memorable moments during outings is LeeAnne Conway.

LeeAnne is currently studying Environmental Science and Photography at Robert Morris University and decided to take advantage of the various internship opportunities provided by Venture Outdoors. LeeAnne works double time as a photography and fishing intern for various outings. Although she enjoys taking pictures of many different types of outings,

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  • The Nature Treasure Hunt is Here – Join Now!

    March 20, 2018

    By: Josh Doty of Foto-Foraging

    Spring is here. If you have been hiding from the snow and cold temperatures, it is now time to venture outdoors again. There is so much to see, even if you only have a chance to go to your local park or even your own backyard.

    The Nature Treasure Hunt

    The Nature Treasure Hunt is a quest to explore, discover, document, learn and share (Instagram #naturetreasurehunt, #ventureoutdoors) nature with others. It is a year-long activity that will provide exercise, fresh air, strong family/friend bonding moments, opportunities to discover and learn,

     » Read more about: The Nature Treasure Hunt is Here – Join Now!  »

  • Winter Tree ID

    March 13, 2018

    By: Iris Marzolf

    My favorite Venture Outdoors program I’ve attended thus far is the Winter Tree ID hike in January at Frick Park.

    It was an educational hike, so participants got a two-for-one deal—exercising while learning how to identify trees without leaves. Winter tree identification is a lot easier and more engaging than one would think. My opinion of trees in winter is generally negative; they look like dull brown skeletons. They’re all the same. Ugly.

    BUT ACTUALLY trees are like people; certain types look the same, and they all have unique characteristics depending on how they grew up.

     » Read more about: Winter Tree ID  »

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid

    March 6, 2018

    By: Maggie Zangara

    On November 20, 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting training hosted by Venture Outdoors. The name of the training was Youth Mental Health First Aid, and it took place at Venture Outdoors through the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. A fun fact is that Lady GaGa, who is a first aider herself and an advocate of the program, has set a goal of getting 150,000 people trained this year.

    Youth Mental Health First Aid ActivityThe intent of the training was to teach family members, teachers, school staff, health and human services workers and other caring citizens how to help adolescents who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

     » Read more about: Youth Mental Health First Aid  »

  • Rachel Carson Trails

    February 27, 2018

    By: Amy Nelson, Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, Member and Volunteer 

    In 2015, three friends and I did the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge  for the first time. We were avid road runners, bored with the monotony of pavement.  A 34-mile trek through the woods seemed like a great way to mix things up. Cut to the day of the event. Twenty miles into it, we experienced a torrential downpour which caused mud slides on some of the steepest hills. Mother Nature can be cruel.  By the time the last five miles rolled around our spirits were broken and we prayed for it to be over.

     » Read more about: Rachel Carson Trails  »

  • Leaving No Trace

    February 20, 2018

    By: Sara Cardamone

    At the Annual Volunteer Meeting, I had the opportunity to attend the Leave No Trace breakout session. Led by Joel Johnston, the interactive gathering was focused on educating participants on what Leave No Trace is truly about. Here are some of the things that I learned!

    Leave No Trace was launched when attendance at parks started to increase, so much so that it was taking a toll on the environment. The mission of the organization is to “protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly”. This comes in the form of seven principles that one should keep in mind when enjoying the outdoors.

     » Read more about: Leaving No Trace  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

Thank you for another great season!
We’ll see you on the water in 2018!


Featured Outing


About Boating Safely
Saturday, March 24
9 AM – 5 PM

Join Venture Outdoors and members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for About Boating Safely. This course gives participants the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in Pennsylvania.