Visit Powdermill Nature Reserve
Powdermill Nature Reserve is Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental research center. Located 55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Rector, Pennsylvania, Powdermill is a field station and laboratory where researchers do long-term studies of natural populations in western Pennsylvania. In addition to being positioned for Appalachian-specific studies in ornithology, ecology, invertebrate zoology, and botany, Powdermill is a great place to spend a fun-filled day outdoors with the family.
Explore the beautiful woodlands around Powdermill, or visit the nature center, which features exhibits that highlight local wildlife, an indoor stream, and a marsh machine that uses a living greenhouse to purify waste water.
Admission to Powdermill Nature Reserve is free.
Nature Center Hours
April 1–October 31
Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon – 4:30 p.m.
November 1–March 31
Wednesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon – 4:30 p.m.
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Hiking trails are open
dawn to dusk every day.
Powdermill Nature Reserve
1795 Route 381
Rector, PA 15677
See below for detailed directions.
Programs and Events at Powdermill
Powdermill educators conduct recurring weekend and evening programs throughout the year as well as summer camps June through August.
Storytime and More
Join us at Powdermill Nature Reserve on the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. for Storytime and More. Children ages 3 to 9, accompanied by an adult, are welcome to discover the wonders of nature through a picture book read-aloud and related game, craft project, or nature walk.
Science and Nature Program
Join us in the Parker Room of the nature center on the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. for a seasonally relevant nature talk. At the same time, children ages 8 to 13 are invited into the Netting Classroom to join us for a hands-on investigation of the natural world! Weather permitting, each lecture will be followed by a brief foray into the field for an interpretive hike.
Nature at Night
Some kinds of nature are best observed at dusk. Join us on the third Wednesday of each month (January through October) at 7 p.m. (drop in any time 5 - 8 p.m. on 10/17). Popcorn will be served! Soft drinks will be available for purchase.
Storytime & MoreApril 7, 2:00 pm
It’s time to sleep for winter, but a little bear named Maurice cannot contain his excitement for spring! He goes out to find it, then comes home to snuggle with his mom. When it’s time to wake up, he leads the other animals in search of spring all through the forest. Come follow along with Maurice as he searches for spring, and then we will head out for a short walk to look for spring at Powdermill!
Science and Nature Program and Nature ExplorersApril 14, 2:00 pm
Dare 2B Tick Aware
Chelsea Gross is the West Nile Virus Program Technician at the Westmoreland Conservation District and a certified Dare 2B Tick Aware facilitator. Chelsea is responsible for mosquito education, surveillance, and control in Westmoreland County to help prevent human exposure to mosquitoes capable of transmitting West Nile Virus. Dare 2B Tick Aware is a tick and Lyme disease prevention program put together by the PA Lyme Resource Network. Come learn about common ticks in Pennsylvania and their habitats, the diseases ticks can transmit, early symptoms of Lyme disease, and prevention measures to take to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases. Afterwards, come join us on a nature hike for a tick dragging demonstration along our forest edges and trails.
“Watch out for ticks!” We all hear it, but what does it really mean? Come explore with us as we find out more about ticks, where they’re found, and how to be Lyme alert. After the activities learning about ticks, we will head outside to observe a tick drag.
Nature at NightApril 17, 7:00 pm
Peent! Twitter, twitter, twitter. Peent! That’s the sound of the American woodcock, fondly known as the timberdoodle! Join us for an evening exploration of these fascinating birds. After a short presentation in the Parker Room, we will head to a field to listen for them peenting and, if we’re lucky, catch a sky dance!
Powdermill Nature Reserve was established by Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1956 to serve as a field station for research on natural populations. General and Mrs. Richard K. Mellon and Dr. and Mrs. Alan M. Scaife presented 1,160 acres of land located about 3 miles south of Rector, Pennsylvania, for the use of Carnegie Museum of Natural History which was named “Powdermill Nature Reserve, a Research Station of Carnegie Museum.” Over the next several years, acreage was added to Powdermill Nature Reserve, and it now offers more than 2,200 acres of woodlands, streams, fields, and ponds for research and educational programs. Powdermill is home to the museum’s GIS lab, avian research center, and a new nature center with ecological exhibits.
Powdermill Nature Reserve is located in Rector on Route 381 in Cook Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Powdermill is 55 miles east of Pittsburgh, off the Donegal interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. For information, call 724.593.6105.
From the North
At the intersection of Route 30 and Route 711 in Ligonier, PA, take route 711 south 3.3 miles to the Rector/Darlington intersection. There are signs there for Powdermill Nature Reserve and Linn Run State Park. Turn left toward Rector and go 1 mile. At the bottom of the hill, before going over the bridge, turn right on to Route 381 South. Follow Route 381 South for 3.3 miles to the Nature Reserve headquarters.
From the PA Turnpike
Take Exit #91 for Donegal. After exiting the turnpike tollbooth, turn left onto Route 31 heading east. Follow Route 31 East for 2.7 miles. Turn left onto Route 381 North. Follow Route 381 North for 6.4 miles to the Nature Reserve headquarters.
Powdermill Nature Reserve welcomes all visitors. We work to assist visitors with disabilities in obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations and in supporting equal access to services, programs, and activities. Please note that requests for accommodations should be made at least two weeks prior to your visit. For specific questions about wheelchairs, strollers, or other programmatic or equipment needs, call 724.593.5907.
Please contact Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s Accessibility Coordinator with concerns regarding accessibility for visitors with disabilities at the museums. On weekdays, call 412-622-6578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, read the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Notification/Resolution Procedure under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Should hazardous conditions result in cancellation, announcements will be made on television stations KDKA, WTAE, and WPXI.