Allegheny National Forest
The Allegheny National Forest consists of nearly 512,000 acres. It's the only National Forest in Pennsylvania and is within easy driving distance to several metropolitan areas, including Erie to the northwest, Buffalo to the North, Pittsburgh to the South, and the Youngstown-Akron-Cleveland areas to the west. Most of the Forest's recreation visitors and other users come from these areas.
Wildernesses include Allegheny River Islands Wilderness and Hickory Creek Wilderness.
The Allegheny National Forest is one of 15 National Forests in the Eastern United States managed by the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Forest came into existence in 1923, after the Pennsylvania Legislature approved and President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation for Federal purchase of available private lands for National Forest purposes.
Located in the northwestern Pennsylvania counties of Elk, McKean, Forest, and Warren, the Allegheny National Forest consists of nearly 512,000 acres. It is the only National Forest in Pennsylvania and is within easy driving distance to several metropolitan areas, including Erie to the northwest, Buffalo to the North, Pittsburgh to the South, and the Youngstown-Akron-Cleveland areas to the west. Most of the Forest's recreation visitors and other users come from these areas.
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.
Allegheny hardwood stands represent the most valuable and widespread timber on the Forest. This type includes black cherry, yellow poplar, white ash, red maple, and sugar maple. The exceptional quality of the black cherry found here makes it highly valued throughout the world for fine furniture and veneers. Over 65 million board feet of timber are harvested from the Allegheny National Forest annually. Approximately one-half of this volume is used for pulpwood.
This type of setting offers many opportunities for recreation. Trails for the hiker, biker, cross-country skier, and snowmobiler wind for many miles through the Forest. Four beaches, six boat launches, seventeen campgrounds (over 730 sites), three scenic overlooks, and nine picnic areas satisfy those who prefer developed facilities. Many recreation areas are near the Allegheny Reservoir, a 27-mile lake on the upper Allegheny River, impounded by the Kinzua Dam.
Six of the ten campgrounds located on the shores of the Allegheny Reservoir can be reached only by boat or on foot. Two scenic overlooks offer magnificent views of the Allegheny Reservoir from atop dramatic formations of bedrock. A third overtook, located near the town of Tidioute, offers a beautiful view of the Allegheny River Valley.
There are over 179 miles of hiking trails within the Allegheny National Forest, including the 86.8-mile North Country Scenic Trail. In addition to hiking trails, there are also over 100 miles of ATV trails and 54 miles of cross-country ski trails. Many of the ATV and hiking trails may also be used by mountain bikes.
Canoe enthusiast will find 277 miles of river in the Forest with an additional 147 miles of river adjacent to the forest. Rivers in the forest used for canoeing are the Allegheny, Clarion, and Tionesta Creek.
Fisheries - Wildlife
Several reservoirs and over 500 miles of streams offer outstanding fishing opportunities, with 71 species available. The State record Northern Pike (22 pounds, 8 ounces, 45 1/2 inches) and Walleye (17 pounds, 9 ounces, 36 1/4 inches) were taken from the Allegheny Reservoir.
More than 300 species of mammals, including game species such as the white-tailed deer, black bear, and wild turkey provide excellent hunting, as well as opportunities for photography or watching animals in their natural habitat.
Forest populations also include 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 spotted in the Kinzua Damarea.
The Allegheny National Forest lies in the heart of Pennsylvania's oil and gas region, only 40 miles from the site of the first oil well in the United States. In 1981, about 17 percent of the state's total crude oil production came from mineral rights owned by private individuals within the Forest boundary. Because of its high paraffin content, Pennsylvania crude is one of the best lubricating oils in the world.
The Tionesta and 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. These three areas offer the public a rare opportunity to view unique ecosystems in a quiet, undisturbed setting.
The Forest also features the Kane Experimental Forest. This 1,650-acre tract is administered by the Northeastern Forest Experimental Station as an area of forest research. This type of natural laboratory is essential to scientists if they are to develop new and better forest management practices.
Nearly 9,000 acres of wilderness, nationally designated in 1984, receive protection on the Allegheny National Forest. The largest area is the Hickory Creek Wilderness (8,570 acres), complimented by seven Allegheny River islands.
Also designated in 1984, 23,000 acres of the Allegheny National Recreation Area are preserved and protected under the Pennsylvania Wilderness Act. This designation ensures the integrity of natural scenic, historic, and other values within the area, as well as providing recreation opportunities.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication