What to do in Moshannon State Forest

Large lumber companies, land holding companies and private individuals once held the major tracts that now comprise the Moshannon State Forest. White pine and hemlock stands occupied the shady slopes and moist plateaus in the earliest recorded forests of the area. Many areas were covered with a mixture of beech, yellow poplar, birches, maples, oaks, cherry, hickory and chestnut. Some of the best white pine areas of the U.S. were located here and contained upwards of one hundred thousand board feet per acre.

During the 1930's ten Civilian Conservation Corp. Camps on the Moshannon constructed and maintained roads, trails, bridges, tree plantations and recreational areas, including S.B. Elliott, Parker Dam and Black Moshannon State Parks. More recently, the discovery of the Boone Mountain and Benezette Natural gas fields have opened up many remote areas of the Moshannon State Forest.

The Quehanna Trail traverses the Moshannon State Forest from Parker Dam to Sinnemahoning in the Elk State Forest. Both the experienced and inexperienced primitive backpack hiker may exercise legs, lungs, mind and imagination on this 65-mile trail and its interconnecting loops. Further information and maps are available from the District Forester. Sparkling streams fed by clear springs offer native and stocked trout fishing. Hunters enjoy the myriad of game species abound within this area as a result of wise use and productive resource management practiced by trained foresters. Inhabitants include white-tailed deer, turkey, bear, squirrels and ruffed grouse. Snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are enjoyed in winter.

The major tracts which now comprise the Moshannon State Forest were once held by large lumber companies, land holding companies and private individuals. The first purchase was 353 acres along Montgomery Run north of Clearfield on September 28, 1898 for $65.45 in delinquent taxes. The last tract of 9,909 acres was purchased from the Lehigh Valley Coal Co. in Centre County in 1956.

White pine and hemlock stands occupied the shady slopes and moist plateaus in the earliest recorded forests of the area. Many areas were covered with a mixture of beech, yellow poplar, birches, maples, oaks, cherry, hickory and chestnut. Some of the best white pine areas of the U.S. were located here and contained upwards of one hundred thousand board feet per acre. "...the wood is so thick, that for a mile at a time we could not find a place the size of a hand where the sunshine could penetrate, even in the clearest day..." according to Conrad Weiser in 1737. All this "virgin" timber was removed between 1860 and 1921. The high pine stumps, logging railroad tie marks, log slides and remnants of splash dams are all that remain to remind us of this earlier time.

Man-caused fires following these cuttings destroyed the humus and organic matter that nature took centuries to build. Some areas even today are open fields of bracken ferns and huckleberries between giant stumps of the previous forest. The resultant oak-chestnut timber type took another blow when the Chestnut blight wiped out the Chestnut prior to 1925. Today, work continues to establish natural Chestnut on the Moshannon State Forest.

During the 1930's ten Civilian Conservation Corp Camps on the Moshannon constructed and maintained roads, trails, bridges, tree plantations and recreational areas, including S.B. Elliott, Parker Dam and Black Moshannon State Parks. More recently, the discovery of the Boone Mountain and Benezette Natural gas fields have opened up many remote areas of the Moshannon State Forest.

A professionally administered program of comprehensive forest management harmonizes the multiple uses of the second-growth hardwood forest for the benefit of all the people of the Commonwealth on a sustained basis. To this end, the first comprehensive resource management plan for the Moshannon State Forest was formulated in 1955 and upgraded in 1970 to reflect the increased demands placed on the forest.

Recreation
The Moshannon State Forest provides an integrated system of designated State Forest Roads and specially constructed and groomed trails for snowmobilers. During winter these trails and roads are inaccessible to conventional vehicles. Snowmobiling completes year-round recreational opportunities on the forest lands. Maps of the trails are available from the District Forester.

The Quehanna Trail traverses the Moshannon State Forest from Parker Dam to Sinnemahoning in the Elk State Forest. Both the experienced and inexperienced primitive backpack hiker may exercise legs, lungs, mind and imagination on this 65-mile trail and its interconnecting loops. Further information and maps are available from the District Forester.

Sparkling streams fed by clear springs offer native and stocked trout fishing.

Hunters enjoy the myriad of game species abound within this area as a result of wise use and productive resource management practiced by trained foresters. Inhabitants include white-tailed deer, turkey, bear, squirrels and ruffed grouse.

Location
Located in central Pennsylvania, Moshannon State Forest saddles Interstate 80 just north of Clearfield.

Climate
Pennsylvania generally has a moist climate with cold winters and warm summers. The Moshannon State Forest area generally has very cold winter months with temperatures averaging 22 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). The region's average summer temperatures average 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius). Precautions should be made when traveling this snowy area in the winter.

Address
District Forester
P.O. Box 952
Clearfield, PA 16830

Phone: 814-765-0821

Fax: 814-765-0621

  • Moshannon State Forest Travel Q&A

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