Somerset has been named one of the best small towns for recreation and adventure, but more votes are needed to win the No1 award.
On Monday, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine said Somerset is one of 25 communities, ranging in population from 3,001 to 16,000, to make its list of top mid-Atlantic and Southeast adventure cities.
Somerset is the only Pennsylvania community still in the running in the small town category.
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How to vote
The winning city will be determined by online voting at blueridgeoutdoors.com/toptowns. Voting is now open until August 22nd. The second round will take place from August 23rd to 29th and the third from August 30th to September 6th.
Laura Argenbright, Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Marketing at GO Laurel Highlands, said there are many towns like Somerset in the Laurel Highlands that are great places to adventure.
“It’s great to see Somerset being recognized for the exciting adventures it offers for outdoor enthusiasts, from casual hikers to extreme mountain bikers and skiers. We encourage everyone to take the time to cast their vote to bring Somerset to the top!” she said in a press release.
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She said Somerset County has a wealth of outdoor destinations and recreational opportunities, like Seven Springs and Hidden Valley Resorts; fishing, hunting, camping, cross country skiing and water sports; Laurel Hill, Kooser, Laurel Summit and Forbes State Parks and Forests; Quemahoning Family Recreation Area, Indian Lake and numerous state wildlife areas.
Pennsylvania’s rooftop garden also has numerous hiking and biking trails such as the Great Allegheny Passage, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and the 9/11 Trail, as well as the Flight 93 National Memorial Recreational Trails.
According to Argenbright, the GAP alone attracts more than a million visitors a year.
Somerset Lake now includes walking trails after some recent improvements and fishing has only returned to the lake this summer.
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“This is exciting!” said Lindsay Baer, director of parks and trails for Somerset County. “Somerset definitely deserved to win first place!
“Somerset County outdoor recreation is unlike any other. We have world famous recreation all year round.
“Of course, we have incredible opportunities for skiing and snowboarding at our resorts, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on all public trails. In the remaining months you can hike, bike, run, jog and kayak in the most peaceful, natural, beautiful environments.
“With rolling hills full of fall colors, many like to go out and see where to find the brightest leaves. Along the Great Allegheny Passage you can find some of the finest local flora in the spring and summer months.
“Somerset County has so much to offer every month of the year and people come from all over the world to experience the place that we are fortunate to call home.”
Somerset County Chamber of Commerce executive director Ron Aldom also said Somerset County is in a unique situation to offer year-round recreation while also having destinations like the Flight 93 Memorial.
“It’s fabulous what’s happening,” he said. “People have learned that outdoor recreation with their family is the way to go… and we’re all about outdoor recreation. Everything around us is outdoor recreation for everyone – from the hardcore mountain bike X-gamers to bird watching, fly fishing and hiking everyone enjoys.
“And we are in a good position because in recent years everyone is enjoying the outdoors. What sets us apart from some other small towns is the big picture.”
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are both in contention for communities larger than 75,000.
Abingdon, Virginia, which won last year’s competition, is once again in contention for first place, as are last year’s runners-up Bedford, Virginia and Black Mountain, North Carolina. Virginia leads with nine nominations, North Carolina with six. Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia have two each, while South Carolina joins Pennsylvania with one.
“The Blue Ridge is filled with cities that offer an abundance of recreational opportunities and companion culture that supports nature,” said Jedd Ferris, editor-in-chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. “We’re delighted that our readers are once again helping us highlight the region’s best adventure destinations.”