This year 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. We’re pleased to announce the new Pennsylvania Outdoor Recreation map is hot off the press just in time for holiday gifting!
This marks the 18th map from Purple Lizard Maps, which is known for producing high-quality, waterproof trail maps of outdoor recreation destinations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, with an emphasis on Pennsylvania state parks and forests. In a press release, Purple Lizard called the map its first “big-picture statewide recreation planning tool” that provides a comprehensive guide to the state’s recreation opportunities.
The map includes 124 state parks, 20 state forests, 114 rail trails and bikeways, 53 mountain bike destinations, 30 long distance hiking trails, 20 ski area, and 17 water trails and whitewater destinations. Also featured are National Forests, recreation areas, wild and natural areas, state game lands, and public lakes managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Army Corps of Engineers.
Purple Lizard Founder Michael Hermann sees maps an invitation for people to engage more meaningfully with the places they explore.
“The best maps don’t just guide people,” Hermann said. “They inspire a deeper connection with place and spark the imagination for future adventures. This map is both a tribute to an extraordinary outdoor landscape and a vision of what’s possible in Pennsylvania outdoor recreation. In a time of fixation on 2-inch screens that limit our ability to see the full landscape, it connects the dots across the abundance of outdoor recreation options in the Commonwealth.”
That vision echoes PEC’s belief that recreation is a gateway to stewardship: the more people explore Pennsylvania’s natural resources, the more people will care about protecting them. To that end, PEC worked with Purple Lizard to include in each map a list of ways people can get involved to give back to the lands and waters they treasure. Those include:
- Joining a local trail/watershed/conservation/recreation group and volunteer or attend an event.
- Introducing someone to their local trail.
- Visiting a trail that’s new to you.
- Volunteering and engaging directly in stewardship
- Contacting elected leaders about relevant legislation (check out PEC’s Bill Tracker to stay up to date).
“This map is a great introduction to the many outdoor recreation opportunities that abound in Pennsylvania,” said Brett Hollern, PEC’s Vice President for Western Pennsylvania. “The Commonwealth offers 84,000 miles of rivers and streams; 4,500,000 acres of public land, thousands of miles of trails, and wonderfully varied terrain and opportunity.”
He added that the map is important not only for people looking to get outside but to the communities that benefit from these visitors. Outdoor recreation pumps $17 billion into the Commonwealth’s economy every year and supports over 164,000 jobs, in many cases revitalizing post-industrial areas.
“PEC is thrilled to partner with Purple Lizard Maps to bring this great resource to residents and visitors alike,” Hollern said.
PEC has its own team of professional cartographers who provided Purple Lizards with GIS data on the multi-use trails that traverse the Commonwealth. They also helped to add trails to the map that don’t yet exist but are scheduled for completion in the near future.
“Trail data is used for pretty much every facet of PEC’s trail work,” said Helena Kotala, Program Manager for the Central Region.
Mapping is a critical tool for trail development and informs planning decisions at every level, Kotala said. PEC’s 2022 Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails Network, for example, combined GIS and demographic data to help determine which trail connections would make the biggest impact for communities.
Maps can also convey the importance of trails within a region, showing how a single trail doesn’t exist in isolation but connects to an ecosystem of assets, from trail networks to other recreation opportunities. Recent reports like the Erie to Pittsburgh/PA Wilds Gap Assessment and NEPA Trails rely heavily on maps to tell the story about an area’s potential for outdoor recreation and non-motorized transit.
“The whole idea is to map what’s there and what could possibly be there,” Kotala said.
You can purchase your own copy of the Pennsylvania Statewide Outdoor Recreation Lizard Map through PurpleLizard.com or from authorized dealers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.