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

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.

Laurel Caverns

Laurel Caverns is a large natural calcareous sandstone cave located 20 miles west of Confluence.   Most of the passage ceilings in its three mile labyrinth are between ten and twenty feet high (many as high as 50 feet) with an average width of over twelve feet.  This makes it the largest cave in Pennsylvania.  The cave itself is situated beneath a 435 acre privately owned geological preserve.  Because this property is at the top of Chestnut Ridge, all of the water that enters the cave is pristine.

Because of its size, Laurel Caverns is also the largest natural bat hibernaculum in Pennsylvania.  In commitment to its preservation mission, the cave is closed during the primary months of the bat hibernation season, November through April.  The cave is essentially empty of bats from May through October.

Visit the Laurel Caverns Website

Kentuck Knob by Frank Lloyd Wright

In 1953, Bernardine and I.N. Hagan purchased eighty acres in the mountains above Uniontown in Western Pennsylvania where their families had lived for generations. After falling in love with the home of their friends the Kaufmanns, Fallingwater, they telephoned Frank Lloyd Wright and asked if he would design a house for them. His answer was: “Of course. Come on out.”
At eighty-six, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and about twelve residential homes, Wright said he could “shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will” never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase. This would be one of the last homes completed by Wright.

Visit the Kentuck Knob website

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater is a house built between 1936 and 1939 over a waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania.  Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family.  It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.

Why is it so famous?  It’s a house that doesn’t even appear to stand on solid ground, but instead stretches out over a 30’ waterfall. It captured everyone’s imagination when it was on the cover of Time magazine in 1938.

The Kaufmanns were from Pittsburgh, PA. They owned Kaufmann’s Department Store, a very exciting and elegant place to shop in the 1930s.  (Today, it is part of the Macy’s chain). Edgar Kaufmann and his wife, Liliane, had one son, Edgar jr.

The Kaufmanns lived in the city, but like many other Pittsburghers, they loved to vacation in the mountains southeast of Pittsburgh. They could hike in the forest, swim and fish in the streams, go horseback riding, and do other outdoor activities.

Pittsburgh at the time was sometimes called the “Smoky City,” due to the amount of air pollution from Pittsburgh’s steel industry. People who could afford to take the train to the mountains ($1 round trip) relished the chance to breathe fresh, cool mountain air.

The Kaufmanns had a summer camp for the department store employees, located along a mountain stream called Bear Run. When the Great Depression made daily living so hard for so many people, the employees no longer had time or money to come up to Kaufmanns Summer Camp.  But Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann and their son dearly loved the mountains, and decided to make the summer camp their own country estate.

Fallingwater is 20 minutes from Confluence.