Top Ten Fall Forests
Not too many folks outside the orbits of Pittsburgh and Buffalo know the charms of northwestern Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest. Encompassing half a million acres of rugged, crenellated Allegheny Plateau landscape, this forest is the region's deep-woods escape hatch, with many miles of footpaths, bike trails, trout streams, and navigable rivers, as well as the flatwater expanses of Allegheny Reservoir.
With fall's arrival, the forestmostly oak, black cherry, yellow poplar, white ash, and red and sugar maplelights up with color that's offset by the green of huge old white pines. A number of two-lane roads wend through the forest, bringing you to trailheads, scenic overlooks, and historic sites; you'll likely see deer along the roadsides and migrating broadwing hawks overhead. Allegheny is also bracketed by two National Recreational Riversthe wild and scenic Allegheny River on the northwestern side and the Clarion on the southwest. Both offer good fishing and floating.
Fall Classics: Allegheny
Into the Woods: Hikers and backpackers shouldn't miss the 33.7-mile Johnny Cake/Tracy Ridge Trail, a triangular loop through the heavily forested Allegheny National Recreation Area, or the 11.1-mile Hickory Creek Trail, which runs through the dense, dark hardwood forest of the Hickory Creek Wilderness. Canoeists should seek out the Allegheny or Clarion Rivers, and mountain bikers will get a fix on trails near Marienville and Sheffield.
On the Roads: The Longhouse Scenic Drive runs from Kinzua Dam near Warren down round Kinzua Bay, Allegheny Reservoir's southern arm. It's a gorgeous drive with plenty of opportunities to get out of the car and play. There are other fine drives or cycling tours from Ridgway to Marienvilleand when in Marienville be sure to have a meal at the Bucktail Hotel Restaurant.
Where to Camp: Check out GORP's Allegheny National Forest Guide.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication