Spring in the Allegheny National Forest
Think Green, Think Big, Think Spring
By Linda Devlin
Extending 624 feet into the Kinzua Gorge at a height of 225 feet, the Kinzua Sky Walk is “one of the top 10 most scenic skywalks in the world,” according to The Culture Trip, U.K. At the end of the skywalk is a partial glass floor which enables one to enjoy 360-degree views of the gorge. Visitors can also enjoy the view by hiking down the side of the gorge on the Kinzua Creek Trail, or from the two overlooks located under and to the side of the skywalk.
Located within the Kinzua Bridge State Park, the skywalk is open seven days a week, year-round. At the park, you can enjoy visiting the exhibits at the Kinzua Center to learn the amazing history of the skywalk, which is the reinvention of the historic Kinzua Viaduct originally constructed in 1882. Inside the Center you will find two floors of interactive exhibits including a replica train car with video of what it was like crossing the viaduct as part of a train pulled by a large steam locomotive.
Other trails at the park include the General Kane Trail and a trailhead for the Knox & Kane Rail Trail. The Knox & Kane Rail Trail is a linear trail running from the park, past Mt. Jewett to Lantz Corners along Rt. 219. During 2022, new construction will link the trail to the village of Kane, and onto Lamont, Pennsylvania. The trail surface is crushed limestone in most areas, and it is suitable for both hiking and biking. Mt. Jewett, Lantz Corners and Kane all offer charming, locally-owned restaurants which welcome hikers and bikers.
The Kinzua Bridge State Park is located at 296 Viaduct Road, Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania. Admission is free to the park, the visitor center, and the skywalk. For park information, phone 814-778-5467.
In the springtime the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) starts an amazing transformation. Wildflowers appear, the song of birds fill the air, and the light, yellowish-green leaves start to color the forest a very distinctive shade of spring green.
The Allegheny National Forest is over 318,000 acres of public lands open for recreation. It is the only National Forest in Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Reservoir, nestled within the northern section of the ANF, offers over 100 acres of shoreline and it is perfect for fishing, kayaking, and boating. When the weather is warmer, Kinzua Beach is a designated swimming area.
The ANF offers abundant camping opportunities. There are 14 campgrounds, with more than 1,000 campsites. Campsites along the Allegheny Reservoir are Willow Bay/Campground & Cabins, Dewdrop, Kiasutha, and Red Bridge Camping & Cabins. The campgrounds are designed to enjoy the beauty of the forest. Mostly tree shaded, each camping site offers a picnic table, a fire ring and parking for two cars.
Two of these campgrounds also offer cabins. Willow Bay offers primitive cabins; Red Bridge has full-service cabins. For photos and information on renting the cabins please call 814-368-4158 or go to www.alleghenysite.com.
In addition, there are five non-reservoir campgrounds. These include Tracy Ridge, Minister Creek, Buckaloons, Hearts Content, and Loleta. For information on these and other sites call 1-877-444-6777 or go online to view photos and to book sites at www.recreation.gov.
Getting outside to enjoy the beauty of nature is simplified by the extensive trail system in the forest. Trails within the ANF include the North Country Scenic Trail (96.6 miles), Minister Creek Trail (10 miles), Morrison Trail (10.8 miles), Rimrock Overlook & Trail (1.3 mile), and Timberdoodle Flats Interpretive Trail (two loops,1.75 miles).
The North Country Scenic Trail is a great multi-day backpacking trail, while Timberdoodle Flats is a fun, family-friendly, looped interpretive birding trail suitable for both adults and young children.
McKean County on the northeastern side of the ANF is known as Trail Central. There are 21 trail systems built and maintained by volunteer trail groups in McKean County. The Marilla Trail System just west of the City of Bradford includes Marilla Bridges Trail, White Pine Trail, Indian Pipe Trail, Hidden Valley Passage, Cornelius Connection at Gilbert Reservoir, Marilla Rocks Trail and Marilla Springs Trail.
The Marilla Reservoir is a favorite 1-mile loop trail. The trail crosses the reservoir via a wooden covered bridge, and a gazebo half-way along the trail offers a place to rest and relax.
The raised walkways, as you circle the reservoir, offer wonderful vistas of woods and water. In addition to hiking, Marilla Reservoir is a favorite fishing spot as kayaks and non-motorized boats are allowed. For information and trail maps go to www.visitanf.com/trail-central.
Nearby, but a world away, the Allegheny National Forest Region and the Kinzua Sky Walk both offer a wonderful destination for a short getaway, or a week-long summer vacation.
For a full list of lodging options, things to see and do, restaurants, museums, and trail information call 800-473-9370 to request a free Adventure Guide or go online to download a guidebook at www.visitANF.com.
Spring in the Allegheny National Forest