Explore With Us

Get Outside. Get Involved.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) views outdoor recreation as a gateway to stewardship. That’s why we are proud to join outdoor-industry partners in celebrating our state’s unparalleled bounty of parks, trails, waterways, and public green space.

We encourage all who recreate outdoors to learn about the places they love and get involved in local efforts to protect and enhance them. 

Guiding Growth in the Outdoors

PEC worked with the Pennsylvania Office of Outdoor Recreation and other outdoor industry stakeholders to develop a roadmap for developing the Commonwealth’s $17 billion outdoor economy.

The report outlines strategic priority areas to “connect the dots” between natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation, and broad-based community and economic development

GORP report cover image


Outdoor recreation accounted for $1.1 trillion in economic output in 2022, according to a new report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, outpacing domestic growth.

Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 budget represents a much-needed investment in the outdoors and Pennsylvania’s environment.

Snowfall is below average for much of the Northeast, including most of Pennsylvania. How is climate change affecting winter sports and outdoor recreation in the Commonwealth?

PEC partnered with a Pennsylvania-based mapmaker to create a first-of-its-kind outdoor recreation map of the Commonwealth highlighting places to hike, bike, ski, and more.


In the spirit of promoting stewardship through outdoor recreation, PEC hosts outdoor events that are open to the public. We hope you’ll join us!

Public Lands Ride

Since 2020, PEC has welcomed cyclists to Black Moshannon State Park for the Public Lands Ride. Participants in the annual group ride can choose from a selection of routes designed for riders of all ages and experience levels.

In partnership with Purple Lizard Maps, we also publish a series of “virtual” rides: hand-curated, GPS-guided routes featuring state parks and forests all over Pennsylvania.


An adventure initiative in southeast Pennsylvania, Bikeout empowers people to have long-distance bike travel experiences.

PEC took over Bikeout‘s operations in 2022, and we are thrilled to host our first ride this Spring. The two-day event will also feature group activities, entertainment, and chef-prepared meals to fuel your adventures. Watch for details in the coming weeks. 


PEC supports outdoor recreation through research exploring opportunities for trail development, placemaking, and expanding access to the outdoors. View some of our recent publications below and find more here.

Mountain Biking and Associated Recreational Opportunities in the Greater Pittsburgh Region: An Atlas (2024)

A catalog of mountain bike trails, multi-use trails, and some notable gravel cycling areas, PEC’s atlas is the first step toward evaluating the potential for promotion of the greater Pittsburgh region as a hub for outdoor recreation.

Growing Mountain Biking in the North Central Appalachian Rec Belt (2024)

A companion piece to the full report, From Rust Belt to Rec Belt—Growing the Outdoor Recreation Economy in North Central Appalachia, this study looks at the potential and realized economic impacts of mountain biking tourism and local recreation, as well as strategies that can help the region develop its mountain biking infrastructure and landscape

From Rust Belt to Rec Belt: Growing the Outdoor Recreation Economy in North Central Appalachia (2023)

The North Central Appalachian Rec Belt is well-positioned to develop as a thriving regional outdoor economy that is known nationwide and enjoyed by visitors and all who call the region home. This report provides recommendations to advance the regional outdoor economy for broad economic and social benefit.

NEPA Trails: Assessing Community & Connectivity in Northeastern PA (2023)

Part resource, part handbook, and part stakeholder roadmap, PEC’s study of trail development opportunities in Northeastern Pennsylvania aims to advance cycling-centered activation, improve public health, and foster community connectivity throughout the region.

Gravel: Recommendations for Supporting the Growth of Gravel Riding in Pennsylvania (2022)

Somewhere between road and mountain biking, gravel or mixed-surface riding is one of the fastest-growing forms of cycling. PEC’s 2022 report examines the potential of Pennsylvania’s 25,000+ miles of dirt and gravel roads for cycling.

Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails Network (2022)

In order to identify priorities and assess community needs within Greater Philadelphia’s growing Circuit Trails network, PEC developed an innovative methodology for measuring the social impact of trail projects. Our 2022 gap analysis lays the groundwork for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive regional trail system.

Erie to Pittsburgh/PA Wilds Gap Assessment Report (2020)

As part of PEC’s participation in the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition (IHTC), we studied ways to promote economic stability and community vitality in Western Pennsylvania through trail development.

Pennsylvania Legacies

The Pennsylvania Legacies podcast features conversations with leaders, experts, and citizens on environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation issues. Subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, or stream episodes on the PEC website.

#183: Something for Everyone (January 2023)

The Philly Bike Expo isn’t just the largest independent bike show on the east coast — it’s one of the most unique events of its kind anywhere. Director Bina Bilenky explains how what began as a celebration of quirky and inventive design has grown into a hub for organizing and building stronger, more inclusive cycling communities.

#179: A Big Investment (November 2022)

In 2022, Allegheny County announced its largest-ever investment in trails: nearly 22 million dollars in federally-leveraged grants to advance trails and active transportation. Friends of the Riverfront Executive Director Kelsey Ripper joins us to give an insight into the funded projects and their potential impacts.

#177: Redefining Trail Gaps (October 2022)

PEC’s Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails Network is more than just a list of priority segments: it proposes a whole new way of thinking about trail projects in terms of social impact. We hear from two members of the Circuit Trails Coalition’s task force on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion: Eleanor Horne of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, and PEC’s Zhenya Nalywayko, who prepared the report.

#164: Taking Recreation Seriously (March 2022)

In Pennsylvania, fun is serious business. Amid growing recognition of outdoor recreation as a vital sector of the state’s economy, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is making a bold investment in the outdoor industry. We meet Pennsylvania’s first-ever statewide recreation czar, Nathan Reigner, and look at his vision for the newly-established Office of Outdoor Recreation within DCNR.

#158: The Solution (December 2021)

Interest in the outdoors skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, opening the doors for big investments in recreation, conservation, and climate. Now, billions in new funding for outdoor recreation and alternative transportation are now available through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. We discuss with Charles Cooper, Managing Director with Signal Advocacy and a Co-Chair of Signal Outdoors.

Junction With a Function

Construction is underway to turn a 14-mile section of railroad, known as Kiski Junction, into a multi-use trail in Armstrong County. The segment will provide vital links into numerous local and regional trail networks, including the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail and the larger Industrial Heartland Trails network.


What goes into creating and maintaining a singletrack MTB or hiking trail? NEPA Trails Forum participants learn from the pros in a hands-on workshop.


PEC advocates at the state and federal levels for environmental integrity, well-supported public lands, and equitable access to the outdoors.

Learn more about current and pending policy proposals related to outdoor recreation in the Commonwealth: