The Environmental Learning Barn
The Environmental Learning Barn, the focal point of the Reserve, is a barn that dates back to 1879. It has been relocated and reconstructed and now serves as the Environmental Learning Center for the Reserve. The barn is carefully situated to enhance the property and was reconstructed using 99% of its original barn materials. The space is equipped with wireless internet, two large open areas, a library with comfortable seating, educational resources that can be borrowed, handicapped-accessible restrooms, projectors, screens, laptops and wireless microphones.
The Barn Owl Gift Corner
Our small gift store nestled in the corner next to the front desk. Whether you’re looking for handmade gifts or items to assist in your nature explorations, the Barn Owl Gift Corner has something for everyone. Jewelry, pottery, puppets and other gift items are hand made by local artists and crafters. Hand lenses, field guides, nets, and more can be purchased to explore the various ecosystems that WPNR has to offer, and then take home to continue the explorations. Visitors can even sample honey candy made from locally harvested honey. Be sure to check out the Barn Owl Gift Corner on your next visit to the Environmental Learning Barn!
A beautiful flagstone patio is accented by a natural amphitheater featuring an abstract sculpture that was designed by artist Julie Amrani of Chicago. The sculpture reflects Winnie Palmer’s love of nature and reading. The sweeping piece conveys twisting tree limbs embracing leaves of books intended to reflect Winnie’s steadfast support of Latrobe’s Adams Memorial Library.
Currently, there are 10 crushed gravel trails at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, offering everything from a short loop to the historic Lochry Blockhouse, to longer loops close to the perimeter of the Reserve. The trails on the Reserve property provide a total of 2.08 miles. Walkers can increase their mileage by using the connecting Monastery Run Trail to access and utilize the Saint Vincent College campus.
Nature Explore Areas
Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve has created Nature Explore Classroom- Nature Playspaces to allow children to create positive bonds with nature for long hours of unstructured play in areas including: Messy Materials, Music and Movement, Garden, Dirt Digging, Water, Action, Climbing, Sand, and Gathering. Each space offers a real experience with texture, shape, sound, or life that is found within the “walls” of the Reserve grounds. Children’s Areas for play and exploration are located throughout the Reserve.
Nature Discovery Trail
A 12-station Nature Discovery Trail is located along the Blockhouse, Thicket and Deer Trails and Woodsy Way. The trail takes visitors on an interactive exploration of the unique nature finds around the Reserve. Each stop consists of an activity that visitors can complete, or a nature fact to learn.
Along the trails is a Habitat Trek that encourages visitors to learn about native plant and animal habitat. The trek allows nature walkers to learn how to enhance their own backyard for native wildlife.
A natural spring was re-routed from the east section of the Reserve to feed a constructed 0.022 acre pond. Seating areas, sand digging pit, nature building playspace, and an outdoor classroom is found around the pond.
Native Plant Gardens
The native plant gardens are located in front of and on each side of the barn and throughout the reserve. The native plants, installed by Friendship Farms in Latrobe, PA, include wildflowers commonly found in Pennsylvania such as Joe-Pye Weed, Great Blue Lobelia, Virginia Cup Flower, various Asters, Wild Bergamot, Spiderwort, and much more.
The Monastic Gardens, located near the East entrance, are named for Fr. Louis Sedlacko who used several of the beds for gardening when the reserve first opened. When Fr. Louis passed away, Saint Vincent College monks continued to use the garden space for growing vegetables. The gardens are currently cared for by the Education Horticulturist and supplemented by volunteer hours from the Penn State Master Gardeners. They now include a medicinal garden, an herb garden, Harvest garden, and a pollinator garden. The pollinator garden includes plants such as Green Headed Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Swamp Milkweed, and Butterfly Weed. The herb garden includes sorrel, fennel, lovage, oregano, burnet, chives, rosemary, lavender, and sage.
The Colonial Garden is located in front of the Lochry Blockhouse near the Park and Walk Entrance. The Colonial Garden contains vegetables, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants that would have existed on the Pennsylvania frontier and would have been utilized for cooking or medicine.
Archibald Lochry Blockhouse
The Lochry Blockhouse, built around 1780 on land owned by Archibald Lochry, was discovered in 1999. The Lochry family became prominent in Pennsylvania and Archibald Lochry successfully acquired large tracts of land, which he used to support his fellow settlers. The blockhouse was located along the path of Forbes Road which was used to travel from Hanna’s Town to Fort Ligonier. The colonists on the Pennsylvania frontier had been vulnerable to attack by Shawnee, Delaware, and Sandusky Indians, necessitating a blockhouse as an armory and safe haven between the forts.
For more information about the history of the Lochry Blockhouse, click here.