Somerset Ranks as One of Top Small Towns for Adventure
A year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Somerset has been named one of the top 25 small towns for adventure in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and voters can push the “Roof Garden of Pennsylvania,” to the top of the mountain.
Located in the beautiful Laurel Highlands, Somerset is one of 25 communities with a population between 3,001 and 16,000 to make Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s 13th annual list of Top Adventure Towns. Aside from “large town” entries Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Somerset is the only Pennsylvania community in the running for the top spot, which will be determined by online voting.
The first round of voting begins Tuesday at https://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/toptowns and runs through Aug. 22. The second round is Aug. 23-29 with the final round Aug. 30-Sept. 6. The four winning towns will be featured in the November issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
“This designation is a wonderful acknowledgement of the diversity of opportunity this ‘county seat’ community provides,” said Somerset County Commissioner Pamela A. Tokar-Ickes. “From outdoor recreation to rural arts and unique small businesses, Somerset offers adventure to all who visit and has always been a great place to live.”
Somerset, which also made the list in 2022, ranks among mountain biking destinations, whitewater oases, climbing paradises, hiking havens, booming craft beer epicenters and live music hot spots, according to the magazine, which highlights communities with vibrant outdoor recreation scenes and access to world-class adventure.
“Towns in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains offer an abundance of recreation opportunities and accompanying culture that supports the outdoors,” said Jedd Ferris, editor in chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. “Every year, we look forward to our readers to once again help us spotlight the region’s best adventure destinations.”
Somerset is located about 15 miles from the top downhill snow skiing destination in Pennsylvania, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, as well as Hidden Valley Resort and Laurel Mountain Ski Resort.
Excellent fishing, hunting, camping, cross country skiing and watersports activities are nearby, as Laurel Hill State Park, Kooser State Park, Laurel Summit State Park and Forbes State Forest are within a 15-mile radius, as are Quemahoning Family Recreation Area and Indian Lake. State Game Lands Nos. 50, 82 and 231 are all within a short drive.
“Somerset is a natural location as an adventure town,” said Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce. “It is nestled between some of the best outdoor recreation destinations in Pennsylvania and the eastern United States.”
The Great Allegheny Passage, which runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, and has been named one of the top recreational trails in the U.S., receives more than a million visits annually, with tourists from all 50 states and more than 35 countries taking advantage of the GAP. The Salisbury Viaduct, with its scenic vistas, consistently ranks as one of the most popular attractions on the 150-mile trail.
A little farther south lies Mount Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania, and the Mount Davis Natural Area, which is home to more hiking opportunities.
Thirty miles away is Ohiopyle State Park, home of the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi River. About 20 miles north of Somerset is Whitewater Park, the first set of artificial rapids constructed for boaters and tubers in the state of Pennsylvania, and the Benscreek Canoe Club plays host to the popular Stonycreek Rendezvous each summer.
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is another easy-to-reach attraction from Somerset, as it stretches 70 miles from Ohiopyle State Park to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown.
“We’re excited that Somerset has been recognized as a top adventure town,” said Regina Coughenour, executive director of Somerset, Inc. “In SoCo, you won't find a local who doesn't know how to throw a line in the water or identify a maple leaf. At Somerset, Inc., we look forward to welcoming adventurous souls and kindred spirits who seek mountain air, the feeling of nature’s expanse, and the camaraderie of outdoor enthusiasts.”
Abingdon, Virginia, which has won each of the past two years, is again in the running for the top small-town spot, as are last year’s runners-up, Bedford, Virginia; and Franklin, North Carolina. Virginia leads the way with nine nominations while North Carolina has five. Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia have two apiece while Maryland and South Carolina join Pennsylvania with one each.
Media kit: Images of Somerset and the surrounding areas are available at https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/jih9puczgb5hs4j3wbaqw/h?rlkey=gugbxacpnh1uk5yilvkko5gfk&dl=0 Seven Springs images are courtesy of Seven Springs Mountain Resort. All others are courtesy of Alex Byers/GO Laurel Highlands.
About Pennsylvania’s Laurel HighlandsA magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands is an outdoor lover’s paradise that spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located just an hour east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers spectacular natural scenery, outstanding skiing, hiking, biking and golfing opportunities, historic sites and attractions, family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – as well as Nemacolin, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and SoakZone, whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle State Park and much more.
Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington D.C., Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at GoLaurelHighlands.com, facebook.com/laurelhighlandsPA and twitter.com/laurelhighlands or by calling 724.238.5661. Established in 1958, GO Laurel Highlands, formerly known as Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.