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Explore Laurel Highlands

Explore Laurel Highlands

In conservation circles, the mountains, streams and natural life that surround Saint Vincent College earn designation as one of the world’s most significant biodiversity “hotspots.” We think of the Laurel Highlands as one very cool place to spend four years.

Whether you’re a science major with an eye toward environmental policy or research, or simply someone who looks outside for adventure and fun, our distinct natural character offers an environment of discovery for adventurers, wanderers and climate-change first responders.

Appalachian Home

Our campus backs into the Appalachian Mountains, part of a 1500-mile unbroken chain stretching from the Canadian Maritimes to central Alabama. Here you can explore encounter more birds, hardwood trees, migration corridors, aquatic species and forest environments that link the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes.


powdermill nature reserve

Research Intensive

Saint Vincent College faculty and students undertake field work at the nearby Powdermill Nature Reserve, an environmental research station featuring 83 acres of nature including Powdermill Run, a mountain spring stream considered to be on the cleanest in the nation and an exceptional resource for the study of climate change and aquatic life.


ohiopyle whitewater rafting

Calling Explorers

Like to ski, hike, bike, rock climb or raft white water? Students get gear, guides, and transportation help through the student-run Highlanders Outdoor Explorers Program. Guide Jym Walters offers his Laurel Highlands top 5:

  1. Favorite season: Fall… USA Today ranked us #3 in the nation for best color display.
  2. Favorite insect: Fireflies … we have fairly dark skies and get a nightly summer show around the Winnie Palmer Nature Preserve.
  3. Favorite bird song: Barred Owl — that unmistakable call (“Who cooks for you, who cooks for y’ahhwwwwl?”) lets you know you’re on an adventure.
  4. Favorite view: Beam Rocks Overlook — on a clear day the view west appears to reach all of the way to the Pacific Ocean.
  5. Favorite field trip: Hearing the bugling call of the Elk at sunrise — that’s something students remember.
allegheny passage

Bike Paradise

Cyclists can pedal car-free from Washington, D.C. to downtown Pittsburgh along the nearby Great Allegheny Passage, passing through 3 tunnels and across 2 viaducts along the mostly crushed limestone trail.


30-Year Conservation Story

Back in 1993, a group of Saint Vincent College science faculty and students began a restoration of nearby Monastery Run, which suffered run off from abandoned mine drainage. Construction of artificial wetlands and other passive treatments successfully recycled over 16 million pounds of wet sludge from the system. This living laboratory has helped generations of chemistry, biology and environmental science majors to study ecosystem biodiversity. It continues to improve water quality in the Laurel Highlands and support life.