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–November 15
Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon – 4:30 p.m.
November 16–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 then participate in a related game, craft project, or nature walk.
Due to the Easter holiday, Storytime and More will not be held on April 1. We will return on Sunday, May 6!
Science and Nature Program and Nature Explorers
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 at 7 p.m. for this family friendly program that features a short talk in the nature center followed by an outdoor exploration. Popcorn will be served! Soft drinks will be available for purchase.
Science and Nature Program and Nature ExplorersApril 8, 2:00 pm
Aquatic Entomology: What we can learn from stream-dwelling insects?
How healthy is the water that flows through Powdermill Run? How about the Monongahela River in downtown Pittsburgh, or the creek that flows through your backyard? One way to find out is to look at the animals that live in the water. Macroinvertebrates are abundant in all types of aquatic habitats and tell a story about the quality of the water in which they live. Let’s learn with Research Entomologist Andrea Kautz about what kinds of bugs can be found in different types of aquatic environments and then go sample Powdermill Run for ourselves! (Note: We invite you to get into Powdermill Run with us. Please wear closed-toed and -heeled shoes, such as galoshes or old sneakers, if you do plan to venture into the cold stream. A towel and a change of shoes/clothes are also recommended.)
Where Insects Live
Where do we find dragonflies and water bugs? What about stoneflies and caddisflies? Come learn about the different habitats of organisms like these in a hands-on exploration of what macroinvertebrates tell us about water quality. Afterward, we will head out to Powdermill Run to catch some macroinvertebrates ourselves! (Note: We invite you to get into Powdermill Run with us. Please wear closed-toed and -heeled shoes, such as galoshes or old sneakers, if you do plan to venture into the cold stream. A towel and a change of shoes/clothes are also recommended.)
Nature at NightApril 18, 7:00 pm
Frogs do most of their calling in the evening, and they are most active in the spring! Join us for an evening of listening and looking for frogs. We will start out at the Nature Center where we will go over some frog calls, then head over to the ponds to see what we can hear!
Storytime and MoreMay 6, 2:00 pm
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.