In February every year, the internationally renowned Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous takes place in Ridgway, Pennsylvania. Since my great grandfather was their town physician around the turn of the 20th century, we decided to go see the Rendevous and also check out Dr. Bardwell’s office on Main Street. What we discovered was that Ridgway is the center of so much more to see and do in the great outdoors.
Ridgway is one of those great little towns that still maintains their historic Main Street with buildings dating back to the late 1800’s. Smack in the center is the court house with its beautiful tower and court records that go back to 1881. There’s also a wealth of history to be found at the Elk County Historical Society at 109 Center Street, including a rare, 7-shot, revolving-chamber pill gun that Dr. Bardwell used to hunt deer.
Heading over to the Chamber of Commerce’s visitor center at 300 Main Street, you can pick up a variety of fun adventure ideas and brochures. Also pick up a list of restaurant, lodging and shopping suggestions.
Before taking off, we tried Jordan’s Bar and Grill at 169 Main St. – home of the Big “A” Burger – a whopping hamburger patty between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Their microbrews are noteworthy as well. For lighter fare, like soup and sandwiches, you could try Joey’s Bakery across the street at 200 Main. For breakfast or lunch, it’s a town tradition.
Flowing right through Ridgway is the Clarion River – a perfect river for canoeing, kayaking or just float tubing in the summer. We’ll be headed back in warmer weather just for that purpose. Located on Main, you can rent everything you need at Lazy River Canoe Rental and Bike Shop. The Clarion River is designated as one of our National Wild and Scenic Rivers. Float trips can be arranged from 9 miles to 61 miles in length – and from 3 hours to 25 hours long.
If you’re more of a land lover, the Clarion/Little Toby Rail-Trail is for you. Run, hike, bike or ski this 18-mile trail that runs from downtown Ridgway, south to Brockway. Amazing as it seems, the entire length of the trail does not cross a single highway. Want to try snowshoeing in the winter, head first to Country Squirrel Outfitters for snowshoe or ski rentals.
Want to get even further from the populace? Ridgway is in the southeast corner of the Allegheny National Forest. With hundreds of miles of trails, it’s the snowmobiling capital of Pennsylvania. The trails are wide, well-marked and easy for riders of all ages. They even have a snow depth hotline at 877-SNO-MBLE updated every Tuesday and Thursday around noon.
For more year round activities in the region, check the Visit PA Great Outdoors site.
Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about travel destinations, photography and tech topics across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. For travel ideas in Cleveland and around the world, check his Calendar of Events. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.