In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge presented a gift to the people of the United States. He established the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania with the mission of protecting the watershed of the Allegheny River while providing public lands for all to enjoy. One hundred years ago these lands needed care and protection. The land had been ravaged by wildfires and clearcutting.
Now in 2023, after 100 years of being a National Forest, the Allegheny National Forest is a 514,029-acre healthy hardwood forest, home to abundant wildlife, songbirds, wildflowers, American Bald Eagles, and osprey. In the northern section of the Forest, the Allegheny Reservoir offers boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Outdoor recreation sites include 14 campgrounds, cabins, and an extensive, four-season trail system for hiking, biking, mountain biking, ATV and snowmobiling in season.
To recognize and celebrate this 100-year milestone, multiple events are scheduled including the Centennial 100-mile Hiking Challenge, the ANF Centennial Geocache Trail, and the “100-year birthday” party for the ANF on September 24, at historic Twin Lakes.
Fall in the Forest and Nearby Kinzua Bridge State Park
During the fall, the tree-covered hillsides will change from green to a beautiful patchwork of color, sparkling yellow, brilliant orange and ruby red. Two premier sites for “leaf peeping” are the Kinzua Bridge State Park and the Allegheny National Forest.
Located within the Kinzua Bridge State Park is the Kinzua Sky Walk, “one of the top 10 most scenic skywalks in the world,” according to The Culture Trip, U.K. The skywalk extends 624 feet into the Kinzua Gorge, at a height of 225 feet, and it features a partial glass floor at the end of the skywalk. The Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center has a series of interpretive displays explaining the history of the skywalk which is the reinvention of six of the historic towers of the Kinzua Viaduct left standing after the tornado of 2003.
There are three trails at the park, picnic tables, a food truck, and a train themed children’s playground. The park is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily until the winter season. Admission and parking are free. Fall color usually peaks in the first two weeks of October. The park is located at 296 Viaduct Road, Mt. Jewett, PA.
Bigger is better, and during the fall, the sheer size of the Allegheny National Forest makes it a premier destination for fall leaf peeping. Add the diversity of the species of trees, and you have an unbelievable world of fall color.
In the ANF, the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, a 27-mile loop, offers three developed overlooks: Rimrock, Kinzua Point, and Jakes Rocks. Rimrock also features a picnic area and a trail through massive rock formations to the edge of the Allegheny Reservoir. Jakes Rocks offers a world class mountain biking trail near the developed overlook.
Centennial Hiking Challenge – Hike 100 Miles to Commemorate 100 Years
Hike 100 miles of the best and most beautiful trails in the Allegheny National Forest in honor of the ANF Centennial. Begin your challenge by downloading your trail log from www.fs.usda.gov/detail/allegheny/learning/history-culture. It is recommended to choose from the trails listed on the website, but you can choose others within the Allegheny National Forest making sure they add up to 100 miles.
As you are hiking, remember to mark the date, trail name, and miles hiked on your log. When you complete 100 miles, bring your hiking log to the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, 80 E. Corydon Street, Bradford, PA, or one of the ranger stations in Bradford, Marienville, or Warren, Pennsylvania, to receive commemorative items, while supplies last. The hiking challenge ends Sept. 24, 2023. The ranger station addresses can be located online at: www.fs.usda.gov/allegheny/about-forest/offices.
ANF Centennial Geocache Trail
The ANF Centennial Geocache Trail has been established to provide an opportunity to connect the American public to the outdoors, encourage families to explore the national forest, and to provide educational and recreational opportunities for the users of the trail. All caches are published on www.geocaching.com. Participants will need to register on geocaching.com to retrieve the coordinates and other location information. Then pick up a passport from the ranger stations or download at www.pennsoil.org. Follow the instructions to be eligible for an ANF Centennial Souvenir Token trackable on geocaching.com.
Celebrating 100 Years – It’s a Party!
On September. 24, from 11 am to 7 pm, a Centennial Party for the Allegheny National Forest will be held at Twin Lakes Recreation Area. Twin Lakes is a historic site, built by the CCC boys of the Civil Conservation Core. A 1-mile hiking trail circles the lake and during the celebration there will be acoustical artisans playing at various locations along this trail. In addition, forest service employees will have interpretive stations where folks can see first-hand examples of the conservation and wildlife work now underway in the forest. The lake will be open for swimming and fishing.
Live music will be playing all day. A winery, brewery, and other food vendors will be onsite. Children’s face painting and corn hole games will add to the fun. Retail vendors will be selling commemorative items. A cake, giveaways, and a living history presentation about Gifford Pinchot, the father of forestry, will round out the day’s events. Admission is free. Twin Lakes is located along Twin Lakes Road, Wilcox, PA. Camping reservations can be made by calling the non-profit group, Friends of Twin Lakes at 814-389-3019.
Plan Your Trip
Throughout the decades families have enjoyed creating memories while camping, hiking, or driving our scenic byways. To help plan your fall trip to enjoy the Centennial events and the beauty of fall in the forest, order a free copy of the Allegheny National Forest Adventure Guide & Map by calling 800-473-9370 or www.VisitANF.com.