ALLEGHENY NATIONAL FOREST
Majestic. Spectacular. Inviting. Located in northwestern Pennsylvania, the Allegheny National Forest is a haven for road adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning more than 517,000 acres, it is the only national forest in the state. Despite that singularity, the Allegheny is renowned for recreational opportunities. Fishing, swimming, waterskiing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and riding ATV are just a few ways to get out and into nature. If you enjoy exploring by car, you’ll find no shortage of scenic byways. As you wind through the resplendent mountainscape, breathe in the forest perfume and let your soul bask in the dappled sunlight. Be sure to stop and walk around the many villages and small towns in the area including Bradford, Kane, Mt. Jewett, Marshburg and Port Allegany. Delight in a visit to one of the region’s award-winning wineries or distilleries, and sample some of the delectable regional fare. Wildlife aficionados can tour the Elk Country Visitor Center and learn about the area’s wildlife habitat and conservation efforts. At the end of each day, sleep soundly in the comfort of your vintage trailer, surrounded by nature’s peace.
It may be a national forest, but there’s also plenty of water in the Allegheny. Whether you enjoy lakes, rivers or streams – a wet adventure awaits. The Allegheny Reservoir, also known as Lake Kinzua, offers lake lovers more than 12,000 acres of water-infused fun. With 99 miles of shoreline, it’s one of the largest recreation destinations in the northeast. Road Adventurers can park their vintage trailers at one of the many full-amenity campgrounds that dot the shore, including Willow Bay or Kiasutha. For fun in the sun, take the whole family to Kinzua Swimming Beach, located just 11 miles east of Warren. Afterward, hike the short distance up to Rimrock Overlook for a scenic view of Kinzua Bay. At the Kinzua Wolf Run Marina, water sport enthusiasts can rent kayaks and boats. Don’t forget your fishing rod and bait – Kinzua Lake is home to Walleye, Small Mouth Bass, Muskellunge Walleye and Northern Pike. There’s nothing more scrumptious than fresh-caught fish wrapped in foil and grilled over your own campfire. Here’s a quick how-to. If a quiet interlude on a pristine river is more to your liking, you may opt for a leisurely float along the Allegheny River system of water trails. Suitable for kayaks, canoes and small motorized watercraft, water trails offer a unique way to experience the flora and fauna indigenous to the Pennsylvania Wilds. Water trail access points, boat launches and day-use permits can be found here.
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO VICTORIAN SMETHPORT
Strolling through the Mansion District in Smethport is like traveling back in time to America’s Gilded Era. In the 19th century, scenic Smethport was the hub of commerce for McKean County, with vast sums of money from lumber, oil and railroad transportation pouring into the community. By 1880, enormous mansions were being constructed, each grander than the last. These opulent homes with their storied pasts come to life as you take this self-guided tour.
Be sure and leave time to browse the old world shops along Smethport’s historic Main Street, and visit the acclaimed Route 6 Diner. Not to be missed – picturesque Hamlin Lake in the center of town.
KINUZA BRIDGE STATE PARK AND KINUZA SKY WALK
Constructed in 1882, the Kinzua Viaduct stood 301 feet high and 2,053 feet long making it the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world. By 1959, the viaduct was no longer in use. In 1977, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks and made part of the Kinzua Bridge State Park. On July 21, 2003, an F1 tornado nearly destroyed the viaduct, uprooting 11 of the 20 towers knocking them to the valley below. Several years later, what remained of the viaduct was transformed into Kinzua Sky Walk – a spectacular 624-foot pedestrian walkway that allows visitors to “Walk the Tracks Across the Sky.” With a glass-bottomed observation deck, visitors can get a unique look at this engineering marvel and the gorge below. The Kinzua Viaduct is the subject of several legends. One says that a bank robber hid $40,000 in gold and currency in glass jars beneath a triangle-shaped rock within sight of the viaduct – a cache that has never been found. In addition to the Sky Walk (and treasure hunting), the Kinzua Bridge State Park boasts interpretive programs, hiking trails and picturesque picnic areas with a stunning backdrop of wooded hills and rugged valleys.
Are you ready for an adventure?