Somerset has been named one of the best small towns for leisure and adventure, but more votes are needed to win the No. 1 distinction.
On Monday, Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine said Somerset is one of 25 communities with between 3,001 and 16,000 residents to make their list of Best Adventure Towns in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
Somerset is the only community in Pennsylvania still in the running in the small town category.
How to vote
The winning city will be chosen by online vote on blueridgeoutdoors.com/toptowns. Voting is open now until August 22. The second round will take place from August 23 to 29 and the third from August 30 to September 6.
Laura Argenbright, senior director of creative strategy and marketing for GO Laurel Highlands, said the Laurel Highlands has many towns like Somerset that are great places for adventure.
“It’s great to see Somerset being recognized for the exciting adventures it offers outdoor enthusiasts, from casual hikers to extreme mountain bikers and skiers. We encourage everyone to take the time to vote to put Somerset at the top! she said in a press release.
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She said Somerset County is full of outdoor destinations and recreational opportunities, such as the resorts of Seven Springs and Hidden Valley; 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 many state game lands.
Pennsylvania’s Roof Garden also has many hiking and biking trails such as the Great Allegheny Passage, Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, and 9/11 Trail, as well as the Flight 93 National Memorial Recreational Trails.
Argenbright said the GAP alone draws more than a million visits a year.
Lake Somerset also includes hiking trails after some recent upgrades, and fishing just returned to the lake this summer.
“That’s exciting!” said Lindsay Baer, director of parks and trails for Somerset County. “Somerset definitely deserves to win first place!
“Somerset County outdoor recreation is unlike any other. We have world class recreation all year round.
“Of course, we have amazing skiing and snowboarding opportunities at our resorts, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on any public trail. In the remaining months, you can hike, cycling, running, walking and kayaking through the most peaceful, natural and beautiful environments.
“With hills in fall colors, many like to get out to see where they can find the brightest leaves. Along the Great Allegheny Pass in spring and summer, you can find some of the most beautiful local flora.
“Somerset County has so much to offer every month of the year, and people come from all over the world to experience the place we are lucky enough to call home.”
Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, also said Somerset County is in a unique position to provide year-round recreation while having destinations such as the Flight 93 Memorial.
“It’s fabulous what’s happening,” he said. “People have learned that outdoor recreation is the way to go with their families…and we are all outdoor recreation. Everything around us is outdoor recreation for everyone – from cycling from hardcore mountain X Gamers to bird watching, fly fishing and hiking that everyone enjoys.
“And we’re in a good position because over the last few years everyone’s been enjoying the outdoors. What sets us apart from some other small towns is the big picture.”
Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are in the running for communities with more than 75,000 residents.
Abingdon, Va., which won last year’s contest, is again in contention for first place, as are last year’s finalists Bedford, Va., and Black Mountain, North Carolina. Virginia leads with nine nominations while North Carolina has six. Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia have two each while South Carolina joins Pennsylvania with one.
“The Blue Ridge is full of towns that offer an abundance of recreational opportunities and an accompanying culture that supports the outdoors,” said Jedd Ferris, editor of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. “We’re thrilled to have our readers help us once again shine a light on the region’s best adventure destinations.”