Travel like a local. When you're exploring the communities and public lands of the Pennsylvania Wilds, look for opportunities to volunteer with local organizations.
Get involved in projects that support our state parks and forests by volunteering for the nonprofit organization that is working to provide a voice for Pennsylvania’s 124 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest land, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF). PPFF supports Friends groups in the Pennsylvania Wilds, including Cherry Springs Dark Sky Association, Friends of Black Moshannon, Friends of Cook Forest, Friends of Ole Bull and Friends of Parker Dam. Find volunteer opportunities with PPFF here.
Concerned citizens help the forest to provide better wildlife habitat, identify and preserve historic sites, and build and maintain trails within the Allegheny National Forest. Volunteer opportunities include (but not limited to): trail construction and maintenance, litter pick-up and an Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program. Details here.
The Keystone Trails Association works to provide, protect, preserve, and promote recreational hiking trails and hiking opportunities in Pennsylvania. They organize hands-on stewardship events and training workshops to maintain and expand hiking trails throughout the Commonwealth. Learn more here.
The Trails at Jakes Rocks include 30+ miles of mountain biking trail, and there is a group that is dedicated to keeping it in shape. Learn more here.
The PA Trail Dogs Mountain Club is a volunteer group working to maintain trails in central PA for year-round outdoor recreation. The group adopts out sections of local trails to volunteers who agree to take care of them and ensure they’re open during the summer months. Details here.
In 1945, Pennsylvania state legislators recognized the need to support grass-roots conservation efforts. As a result, the Conservation District Law was passed, and county conservation districts were created. Today there is a conservation district established in every Pennsylvania county except Philadelphia.
Cameron County Conservation District
74 E 3rd St, Emporium, PA 15834
Centre County Conservation District
414 Holmes St # 4, Bellefonte, PA 16823
Clarion County Conservation District
249 S 2nd Ave, Clarion, PA 16214
Clearfield County Conservation District
6395 Clearfield Woodland Hwy #2, Clearfield, PA 16830
Clinton County Conservation District
45 Cooperation Lane, Mill Hall, PA 17751
Elk County Conservation District
850 Washington St, St Marys, PA 15857
Forest County Conservation District + Planning Department
526 Elm St, Tionesta, PA 16353
Jefferson County Conservation District
1514 PA-28, Brookville, PA 15825
Lycoming County Conservation District
542 County Farm Rd # 202, Montoursville, PA 17754
McKean County Conservation District
17137 US-6, Smethport, PA 16749
Potter County Conservation District
107 Market St, Coudersport, PA 16915
Tioga County Conservation District
1867 Shumway Hill Rd, Wellsboro, PA 16901
Warren County Conservation District
4000 Conewango Ave, Warren, PA 16365
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) offers many ways for stewards to get involved in projects across their coverage area, which includes much of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Volunteers can plant trees, help clean and stabilize rivers and streams, plant flowers or take care of a community garden, or help maintain and restore WPC’s Nature Preserves, among other opportunities. Learn more here.
Allegheny Outfitters organizes an annual cleanup for the Allegheny River and Conewango Creek in Warren County, part of the Allegheny National Forest & Surrounds landscape of the PA Wilds. Since 2009, more than 2,800 volunteers have donated almost 23,000 hours and have removed almost 400 cubic yards of trash and 100,000 lbs of metal from the watershed. Details here.
CleanScapes is a nonprofit organization and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful affiliate that coordinates cleanups in the floodplains and hillsides of Clinton and Lycoming Counties, part of the I-80 Frontier and Pine Creek Valley landscapes of the PA Wilds. There are land cleanups and river cleanups, depending on season and identified locations. Since CleanScapes cleanups began in 2000, 127 cleanup events have been held, engaging 4,680 volunteers who cleaned up more than 2,439,340 pounds of trash and 13,415 tires from waterways and hillsides. More than 49,245 pounds of metal has also been recycled. Connect with CleanScapes here.
The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP) is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the Susquehanna Greenway within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. SGP’s goal is to build an active network of trails, open space, and communities that enable you to walk, bike, or paddle from town to town. SGP enlists Water Trail Stewards to help maintain the greenway and also plans occasional roadside cleanups to prevent litter from reaching the river. Details here.
Are you a resident or do you own property in the region? Are you here so much that it feels like you own property in the region? Consider participating in the Adopt-A-Highway Program offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Individuals and groups are able to adopt a section of roadway, typically about 2 miles, and help keep it litter free. Typically, roadways that have been adopted are cleaned up twice a year, in spring and fall. Details here.
Since 1990, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB) has managed an adoption program that allows individuals and groups to ‘adopt’ local areas they care about and help keep them clean and beautiful. The KPB adoption program compliments PennDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program and is available for most municipal roads, trails, waterways and city blocks as long as KPB has the consent and support of the owner/maintainer of the property (usually the municipality). Details here.
Journeys & Landscapes
Covering more than 500,000 acres, the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) is Pennsylvania’s only national forest. It dominates the western end of the Pennsylvania Wilds and contains within it and around it some of the region’s most treasured places and experiences.
Known as a land of giants because of the “forest cathedral” of ancient pines and hemlocks, this landscape is an ode to the majesty of the Pennsylvania Wilds and home to many of the tallest hemlock and pine trees in the Northeast. If an adventure among Cook Forest & The Ancients sounds mystifyingly exciting to you, rest assured that you’ll rest well during your exploration. So what are you waiting for? The Ancients are calling. Come see some of the tallest pine trees in the Northeast.
Inspiring awe and delight, Dark Skies is home to the world’s second certified International Dark-Sky Park. Cherry Springs State Park is world-famous for being one the best places in the USA for stargazing and the study of astronomy. But these mesmerizing, star-filled skies are JUST the beginning.
Elk Country is a place that lives up to its name. Home to the largest free-roaming elk herd in the northeastern United States, Elk Country features two large visitor centers to welcome you. If you come to Elk Country for the elk, you won’t be disappointed. But if you stick around to see what’s all around you, you’ll be delighted you did.
Whether you’re coming from the east, south or west, the I-80 Frontier is the quintessential welcome mat to the Pennsylvania Wilds. With its proximity to Pennsylvania’s southern population centers of Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, not to mention close by New York City, and Cleveland on the western side, it’s easy to plan a trip for each season. Home to forested state parks and storied towns and places, any given exit off the interstate is a surefire way to find and explore the natural and hidden wonders of the region.
The Eastern Gateway to the PA Wilds...If it’s your first visit to the region, the PA Grand Canyon is a must see and one of the perfect ways to orient your mind and senses to the wonders of the Wilds. But once you’ve delighted in the Pine Creek Gorge views, you’ll soon discover that this scenic and unique landscape is best discovered from multiple vantage points.