Moraine State Park kayak trips one of many excursions for Venture Outdoors

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

While there is something to be said for solitude in nature, being outdoors with a group of people is also rewarding.

That's where Venture Outdoors comes in, and the organization has a number of trips coming up in and around Butler County in the next month that may be of particular interest for anyone who perhaps has never kayaked but wants to learn or is just looking for company or guidance on a hike or a bike ride.

On Saturday, the group will host a waterfalls hike at McConnell's Mill State Park. The hike will cover 7 to 9 miles, and the terrain will range from easy to difficult. While the hiking at McConnell's Mill can be challenging in some areas, the spectacular views along Slippery Rock Creek make it well worth the effort. The trip leader also will discuss the history of the area along the way. Cost for members is $6, or $10 for non-members.

The following day is the monthly kayak eco-tour of Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park. Beginners are welcome, but first-time kayakers should check out the more instructional paddle on Aug. 3, also at Moraine.

Trip leader Brandi Miller-Parish leads the eco-tour paddles each month just like a nature walk, but on water.

“We'll go out on the water and paddle the whole way around Porter's Cove — about three miles — and stop and talk about the changes happening with the season,” said Miller-Parish, who works for Pennsylvania State Parks at the Jennings Environmental Education Center. “If a specific flower is blooming, we'll stop and talk about that, paddle over to the bridge to look at the swallows nesting there.

“We see a lot of great blue herons and often ospreys and sometimes even get to see them dive into the water. (We also see) the occasional turtle or snake, but for the most part it's whatever is out there. Whatever nature provides, we take the opportunity to stop and talk about it.”

The cost for the trip is $20 for members, $27 for non-members.

For those who like to mix hiking and history, Venture Outdoors will lead an easy three-mile hike through Harmony while sharing stories about the Harmonist Society that settled in America from Germany in 1804 to escape religious persecution. Cost is $8 for members and $12 for non-members.

There is another beginner's paddle at Moraine State Park on Aug. 17 and an eco-tour paddle on Aug. 25. Also on Aug. 25 Venture Outdoors will lead cyclists on a 40-mile trip along the Butler-Freeport Community Trail, stopping for lunch in Butler along the way.

The cost is $10 for members or $15 for non-members, and bike rentals are not available on this trip.

To join Venture Outdoors or sign up for any of the trips, visit

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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