Top 10 things to do in the Allegheny National Forest & Surrounds
Nestled in the rural northern section of the state of Pennsylvania rests the lovely Pennsylvania Wilds. And within the Pennsylvania Wilds is the vast and stunning Allegheny National Forest. It is the only National Forest in the state and covers 513,175 acres of land. Known for its natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and welcoming communities, the Allegheny National Forest is bursting with opportunity, as are the communities that surround it!
With over 1,600 miles of trails, there is no shortage of hiking adventures in the forest. Some favorite trails throughout the Allegheny National Forest include Rimrock Hiking Trail and the 96.3-mile-long North Country National Scenic Trail. (Photo: Rimrock Hiking Trail by Olivia Blackmore)
In McKean County, the pleasant gateway community of Kane is known for its fascinating history which contributes to its charming personality. Residents and visitors of Kane appreciate outdoor activities made popular due to the town’s proximity to the Allegheny National Forest. One can be found enjoying an evening of music at the OG Crawford Amphitheater, taking a trip to the drive-in, or going for a drink at one of the establishments in the growing town. (Read more about downtown Kane here.)
Find yourself connecting with the great outdoors and the ones you love through a camping trip. Visitors have many camping options throughout the region, whether they decide to use an RV, find a cabin, pitch a tent, or go backpacking. A common destination for camping is along the Allegheny River, one of two designated National Wild & Scenic Rivers in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
4. Zippo/Case Museum
The infamous Zippo lighter and iconic Case knives originate from historically-rich Bradford, PA, a town in the northwestern section of the PA Wilds. The free-admission Zippo/Case Museum features exhibits on Zippo from World War II, Zippo in Hollywood, and Zippo in music. There is also an exhibit on the repair center, a Case Knives exhibit, and a gift shop.
5. Water Recreation
Several different bodies of water are in the ANF. Fans of water recreation can partake in activities such as kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and motorized water activities such as jet skiing. A favorite river trip can be found on the Allegheny River, which flows from Warren to Pittsburgh and is one of two designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Another water recreation destination would be the Kinzua Reservoir. (Photo: The Kinzua Reservoir by Olivia Blackmore)
6. Jakes Rocks
Adventurous bike enthusiasts should all hear about the biking trails at Jakes Rocks. The 30-mile winding trail is exhilarating; however, there are paths for all levels of biking. The trail takes visitors through the forest and incredible rock formations.
7. Synchronous Firefly Season
Beginning with the summer solstice and ending the second week in July, the fireflies of the ANF light up the earth like stars. In June, the Pennsylvania Firefly Festival celebrates the synchronous fireflies at Black Caddis Ranch and Bed and Breakfast in Forest County.
8. Kinzua Dam
On the Allegheny River sits the Kinzua Dam, measuring in at 1,897 feet long. The dam, completed in 1965, was built to prevent flooding in Pittsburgh. Along with the view of the immense dam and scenic reservoir, there is a historical visitor’s center. Due to the construction of the dam, the Seneca people lost their land and had to relocate. Today, people who visit the dam can enjoy the recreation and beauty that the functioning dam provides, while at the same time keeping in mind the hardships and history of the area.
9. Winter Recreation
The ANF is especially known for its breathtaking views in the winter months. Recreational activities such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are particularly popular. Marienville is known as the “Snowmobiling Capital of PA” thanks to the popularity of the winter sport in the area. Learn more about various activities available in the region here.
10. Kinzua Bridge State Park
A viaduct built in 1882 across the valley in Mt. Jewett was largely destroyed by a tornado in 2003. The “Eighth Wonder of the World” has since turned into an attraction for thrill seekers, photographers, hikers, and lovers of nature. The bridge now features a skywalk that visitors can walk out on to view the surrounding area, as well as the mangled remains below. The park is a popular destination in the autumn due to the beautiful fall foliage. The newest feature of the park is the Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center which features an exhibit and a PA Wilds Conservation Shop full of regionally-sourced gifts and keepsakes. (Photo: Kinzua Bridge Viaduct by Olivia Blackmore)
More information about activities in the Allegheny National Forest & Surrounds Landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds can be found at pawilds.com/landscape/allegheny-national-forest-surrounds/.