Covid-19 restriction updates

Somerset County in South Western PA moved to the Green phase on June 5. Which means pretty much everything is open with new protocols/precautions (which is apparently as far as things go–for at least now).

So far all openings have gone well with no reason to go back to more restrictions—fingers crossed that stays that way. But things still seem to change daily and do your own research.

Here’s what green means:

Events

  • Gatherings of more than 250 people remain prohibited. This would include most festivals, conferences, sporting events or concerts.
  • Religious worship is exempt from restrictions, but social distancing and other mitigation methods are strongly encouraged.

Business

  • All businesses operating at 50% occupancy in yellow phase may increase to 75%, but working remotely is still strongly encouraged.
  • Businesses with in-person operations must follow updated safety requirements.
  • Personal care services, such as hair salons and barbershops, open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only
  • Construction activity may return to full capacity

Dining and recreation

  • Restaurants and bars open for dine-in service, but with occupancy limits and other guidelines.
  • Indoor recreation, including gyms, spas and health and wellness facilities, open at 50% occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged
  • All entertainment, including casinos, theaters and shopping malls, open at 50% occupancy

Other facilities

  • Schools can reopen, subject to CDC and state guidance (though they will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year)
  • Child care may open, complying with guidance.
  • Congregate care restrictions remain in place
  • Prison and hospital visitation restrictions determined by individual facilitiesStill in yellow

TIPS FOR STAYING IN THE KNOW

https://www.laurelhighlands.org/things-to-do/now-open/  is a good resource.

Also finding the Facebook page for the business that you are looking for often has the most updated info.

Mitch’s Fuel & Food

Mitch’s Fuel & Food, in the center of town, is a one-stop-shop for all of your quick-service needs. In addition to gas, this rustic country store offers a wide variety of convenience items including beverages, snacks, lottery, tobacco products, and live bait.

Mitch’s also offers a full menu for in-house dining or carryout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week!

Don’t discount this as “gas station” food. Stop in, check out the menu. We think you’ll be surprised and delighted.

Mountain River Spa

Mountain River Spa

Mountain River Salon and Spa has a calming atmosphere that will cater to the body and soul. A tranquil climate combined with an energetic and professional team makes Mountain River home to all who enter. Their goal is to offer superior services to our local community and traveler alike. Bringing the comfort of the outdoors in!

Mountain River Salon & Spa, llc.

Appointments with Shelly & Massage 814-279-4460

Appointments with Mia 814-233-1695


Playgrounds

There are several fun playgrounds in the area.

The Outflow Campground playground, Confluence. This is across the river from the Treehouse and Riverhouse. Walk or bike across the Yough River bridge (281) and head towards the end of the campground. There is a great spot for fishing there as well, at the outflow of the dam.

The Turkeyfoot school playground, Harnedsville. Unknown, this is great spot when school is out.

Stewart On The Green Community Park, Ohiopyle. Newer and cool playground with kayaks built into the structures.

The Confluence community playground, Confluence. Not great but cool if your kiddos like to watch the train go by. Next to the Community center (near Foodmart)

Confluence gets a hiking trail!

Joshua C Whetzel Jr Memorial Recreation Area, Part of the Casselman River Conservation Area

New starting in May 2019 Confluence gets is first official hiking trail! And it’s next to the Riverhouse. The trailhead starts in the bike trail parking lot between Riversport and the Riverhouse. The trail traverse the hillside behind the Riverhouse and across from the Treehouse.

We originally purchased the land the trail is on (50 acres) when we acquired the Riverhouse. We had no plans to develop the land–we actually wanted it to remain wild. Through a series of fortunate events and hope and dreams, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the land from to do just that–conserve it. It’s fantastic for us, of course, but also for the town of Confluence and the area. My family and I had been hiking there (locally known as Klondike Ridge) forever and it’s a really special place to us. It’s so amazing to be able to share it!

The trail is a bit steep but their are steps in the beginning and it does mellow out. It’s an out and back, well marked trail. Good hiking shoes recommended- especially when it’s wet.

It’s short but takes you to a nice overlook of the confluence of the 3 rivers, or the “turkeyfoot”.

Go check it out and let me know what you think! ~Kara

World class fishing

The section of river from the dam (at the Tree and Riverhouse) from Confluence to Ohiopyle is considered by many as the finest stretch of trout water on the Youghiogheny. Here, the river is at its coldest, surging from the dam in the low 40-degree range and increasing as the water migrates downstream where the 2 rain fed rivers (Casselman and Laurel Hill) join the Yough (at the Stonehouse)

The Youghiogheny at the houses is cold and shallow. Better for fishing and boating than swimming. The lake is warm, but the water in the river is flowing out of the deep bottom of the lake and therefore very cold.  Most wade below the dam and in the shallow waters just downstream. Trout will hold on the edges of soft seams and pockets where they can relax in the soft currents and intercept passing food.

If fly fishing, locate your best dry-fly water, look for flat pools, softer runs, and eddies. Bait fishing is also good. The State stocks brown and rainbow fingerlings in this area, and good-sized holdover trout in the 12- to 16-plus-inch class are caught with regularity.

Another option for fishing on the Yough is biking along the trail and taking one of the many paths down to the river and paddling or floating from Confluence to Ohiopyle.

There is also great lake fishing on our 3 lakes. Yough Lake is 2 minutes from the house. Cranberry Glade and High Point Lake are within 20 minutes.

Here’s a blog post of a biking-fishing trip.

We see more and more fishing on the Casselman and the Laurel Hill is fantastic for fly fishing. As is Whites Creek and Meadow Run in Ohiopyle.

You will need a fishing license. Check rules here. You can get one at the local hardware store.

Want a guide to find the secret spots? Contact our friends at Wilderness Voyageurs.

Check out this article. (and learn how to pronounce Yough)

Finally, love the Yough and want to help protect her? Please consider supporting Mountain Watershed Association. This hard working, grass roots organization has been designed the Yough Riverkeeper and is the only organization specifically protecting and preserving the Yough!

Big Bear Lake

Strewn throughout Big Bear Lake Camplands,  Big Bear Lake Trail Center is quickly becoming known as the hot spot for classic east coast single track mountain biking. Years of trail development, by experienced mountain bikers, have created a trail system that will have you grinning ear to ear. The terrain has everything to offer; gradual climbs, large embedded rocks, tight slaloms, challenging rock gardens, and off the saddle downhills. Almost 50 miles of trail wind through knee deep ferns, soft needle pine plantations, and groves of mountain laurel. Riders of all ages and abilities will find trails to fit their individual riding skills and need for adrenaline.
Trail maps are provided at the main entrance. Trail fee is $10/day or $30 for a season pass. Season passes can be purchased at the main entrance or online HERE.


All trails may be used for hiking, trail running and x-c skiing. Trails are closed from November 1 to December 31.

Bittersweet Cafe

Bittersweet Cafe is a unique garden cafe in nearby Farmington, PA with fresh, thoughtful food. The Bittersweet Cafe has the ability to cultivate our fresh ingredients right at their mountain location to create unique dishes with outstanding flavor. Their grass fed meats, free range chickens and eggs are all locally raised, along with farm fresh produce- some of which grows in their gardens.  Don’t miss the homemade English muffins.

Local wineries

Currently there are 3 wineries within an hour of Confluence. They all offer tours.

Christian Clay Winery Chalk Hill, PA

Winery owner Sharon Klay and her husband John first developed an interest in winemaking while living in New York City in the 1970s.  This interest led them to research and select the nearly 100 varieties of grapes that would be suitable for cool climate growing conditions.

When the Klays relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they searched for three years to find a suitable vineyard site.  In 1986, the couple purchased a 215-acre farm in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania.  John developed a successful practice as a cardiothoracic surgeon, while Sharon decided to take the original 1,000 vines on the property to 14,000 vines.  In 1997, Fayette County’s first commercial winery opened, named after the Klays’ son Christian. Sharon planned to offer her customers the complete wine experience and soon developed an array of enticing special events for the public, such as murder mysteries and a “Wine & Dine in the Woods” series.

Fayette Springs Farm was a suitable place for the Klays’ venture as the farm had a long history of entertaining and welcoming guests.  At the turn of the century, the farm was owned by U.S. Senator William E. Crow who opened his mountain estate to many visitors including President Harding and Black Jack Pershing.

Today, the winery offers guests entertaining special events, informative and educational tours, ideal venues for private events, wine tasting, and shopping in six locations.  An active partner in the community, the winery also hosts annual benefits for Fayette Friends of Animals and other non-profit organizations.

Glades Pike Winery Somerset, PA

Glades Pike Winery started out as a family business, and both the business and our definition of family have expanded since that time. At the root of our family tree are Steve and Karen – the couple who joined a winemaking club for fun and ended up with a new business on their hands. Branching out, you’ll find our tight knit staff who welcome customers into our “home” with open arms and, of course, bottles. Those customers are part of the family, too. Many become regulars, not only as customers, but as our goodwill ambassadors – spreading the word and bringing their friends into our happy little home.

Deep Creek Cellars Friendsville, MD

A small winery in the mountains of western Maryland emphasizing wines made from grapes that reflect their soil and site, mostly dry in style and meant to pair with good food. The winery is located near major mid-Atlantic tourism destinations: Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake and the scenic Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.  In our own vineyards, we use sustainable farming practices for “natural wine-making” — relying on wild yeast fermentation and no filtering. Many of our bottlings contain no sulfites. We make similarly low-tech wines from grapes grown in other Maryland climate zones: classic red and white Pinot and Cabernet Franc from a limestone ridge-top near Cumberland, unique native American Norton from quartz-rich soils in Carroll County, and spectacular dry Riesling from clay-over-limestone in Howard County. A little-known facts is that we are emerging as one of the few Mid-Atlantic Pinot Noir specialists.