Allegheny National Forest
|Fall colors in Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania (courtesy, Pennsylvania Tourism)|
The Allegheny National Forest sits in the rugged plateau country of northwestern Pennsylvania. Many creeks and streams cut deeply into the plateau, creating a rolling and sometimes steep topography with a 1,300-foot range of elevation. The terrain is covered with a typical eastern hardwood forest. Black cherry, yellow poplar, white ash, red maple, and sugar maple are all common to the area.
The Tionesta National Scenic and Tionesta Research Natural Areas and Hearts Content Area feature some of the oldest and largest tracts of virgin beech-hemlock forest in the eastern United States. The Allegheny Islands Wilderness is another unique feature of the Allegheny National Forest. Seven islands in the Allegheny River comprise this area and offer opportunities for remote canoeing and backcountry camping excursions.
Hike the North Country Trail
The Allegheny National Forest section of the North Country National Scenic Trail is a great walk among rocks and waterfalls, Allegheny hardwoods, and stands of mountain laurel. You will be meandering miles through the historic lands of the Iroquois as you cross the Allegheny Plateau.
Bike at Buzzard Swamp
Buzzard Swamp hiking area offers 12 miles of trails for you and your mountain bike. Enjoy a secluded and densely forested area, where you're sure to see plenty of wildlife in this unique ecosystem. The great thing about mountain biking here (versus hiking) is that you can do it all without getting your feet wet.
More on biking in Allegheny National Forest
Ski the Laurel Mill Trail
The Laurel Mill Ski Trail is ten miles through beautiful winter scenery. If that doesn't seem long enough, use the trail as a jumping off point for some excellent backwoods skiing. You'll have to blaze your own trail, but the natural solitude and beauty you're bound to discover will make it worthwhile.
Float the Middle Allegheny
Your mellow, Class I trip starts just below the Kinzua Dam. This trip will take you through the Allegheny Islands Wilderness, past Dixon and Crulls Island. Here the valley is narrow, with steep walls. Riffles are long and gentle, the pools relatively short and with no 'dead' water. This is a stretch that you can actually float. Stick to the main channel. The smaller channels in this stretch get very shallow during mid-summer. Don't forget to look up as you paddle downstream: You have a good chance of seeing bald eagles.
Fish the Allegheny Reservoir
The Allegheny reservoir (a 12,000-acre impoundment on the Allegheny River) is the largest reservoir on the Forest. Fish species found in the Reservoir include smallmouth bass, muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, channel catfish and some brown trout. Tributary streams flowing into the Reservoir, as well as the streams located throughout the Forest, offer excellent cold-water fishing experiences. Some streams are stocked with brook, brown, and rainbow trout, while others have natural populations of brook trout.
More on fishing in Allegheny National Forest
Get your Kicks on Route 666?
This narrow, bumpy, curvy ribbon of asphalt, the ONLY paved road crossing the Allegheny National Forest in an east-west direction, is not the kind of road you'd want to travel to get anywhere quickly. Although sections have been repaved, it's still a road riddled with ruts and potholes. Triple Six demands cautious and careful driving, and since there are virtually no straight stretches within the Allegheny National Forest portion, there are virtually no places where the speed freaks of the world can open their vehicles up to normal speeds. But who would want to go fast on this road? There are simply too many gorgeous vistas, too many stunning views of the forest primeval to pass by quickly. This road demands rubbernecking, photo taking, and periodic stopping.
Spot Some Wildlife
Tread lightly, and you may come across a few of the locals: raccoon, gray squirrel, ruffed grouse, American woodcock, snowshoe hare, red and gray fox, beaver, mink, and muskrat. Hundreds of songbirds, along with woodpeckers, hawks, great blue herons, and owls enjoy the woodlands. Bald eagles have been known to frequent the Kinzua Dam area.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication