It’s Anything You Want It to Be! The Trail Systems are Just as Diverse!
Camping in the Allegheny National Forest region is anything you want it to be. You can set up camp on forestland and start a campfire, go to one of the many campgrounds for camping in a tent or a rented RV, or even stay in a cabin.
The trail systems in the Region are just as diverse with anything from paved trails to more rugged terrain.
The camping concessions on the Forest itself are under the auspices of the Allegheny Site Management. These include Willow Bay, Buckaloons, Dew Drop, Hearts Content, Kiasutha, Loleta, Minister Creek, Red Bridge, Tracy Ridge, Twin Lakes, Morrison, Pine Grove, Handsome Lake, Hopewell, Hooks Brook, Elijah Run, Webbs Ferry, Roper Hollow and Farnsworth Cabin.
Open all year round, the campgrounds handled by Allegheny Site Management offer a full range of recreational activities within the Allegheny National Forest. Boat rentals and outfitting needs are also available.
Four campgrounds - Willow Bay, Dewdrop and Kiasutha and Red Bridge - are located on the Allegheny Reservoir. Primitive campgrounds on the reservoir are Handsome Lake, Hooks Brook, Hopewell, Pine Grove and Morrison. (Tracy Ridge, Minister Creek, Buckaloons, Hearts Content, Loleta and Twin Lakes are not on the reservoir.)
There are several privately owned campgrounds, too.
Bettum’s Idlewood Family Campground, in Lewis Run, is a full-service campground with a propane filling station, a heated inground swimming pool, game room, playground and even a full-time notary service. Ph. 814-362-1719.
FooteRest Campground & Cabins, located at Lantz Corners, is under new management this camping season. Several upgrades have been made and the owners are excited to have this be the place for family camping experience in the region. Ph. 814-778-5336.
With 96.3 miles of completed trails marked with blue diamonds, the North Country Trail is the longest trail in the Allegheny National Forest. It is one of three designated National Scenic Trails in Pennsylvania and provides vistas of the Allegheny Reservoir as it passes through rock outcroppings, open hardwoods, old growth forests and stands of hemlock.
A trailhead with a parking area is located along PA 346 west of the City of Bradford. From this northern point, situated along the New York-Pennsylvania state border near the Willow Bay Recreation Area, the North Country Trail winds south to Tionesta Scenic Area. The trail then heads southeast to Nanson and southwest through Seldom Seen Corners to the ANF Boundary near Muzette.
The Minister Creek Trail, a 7.3 mile trail, begins at the Minister Creek Campground and forms a loop. The trailhead parking lot is located on Route 666 west of Minister Creek Campground, 14.7 miles southwest of Sheffield. Marked with grey diamonds, this trail is for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking.
The Morrison Trail is a tale of two trails. The eastern side is the Morrison Trail Loop and the western side is the Rimrock Trail Loop. Day hikers can complete either portion of the trail in one day. Combining both trails with the cross connector, this system is perfect for a two to three day backpacking adventure. Passing through open hardwoods and large rock formations, the ground cover is thick with strands of mountain laurel. The trailhead parking lot is located along PA 59, 17 miles west of the City of Bradford.
Timberdoodle Flats Interpretive Trail is actually two trail loops totaling 1.4 miles. The Timberdoodle is the nickname of the American Woodcock, one of many birds that you might glimpse along the trail. The Woodcock Loop is marked with a yellow woodcock insignia and features 12 interpretive stops. The shorter Bluebird Trail is suitable for wheelchairs or walking assistance equipment and features six interpretive stops. Perfect for casual hikers, parents with children, or first time birders.
Bald eagles have been seen on the Crook Farm Trail, which is a 1.2 mile hiking trail along the banks of the scenic Tunungawant Creek, located just north of the City of Bradford. The trailhead is located at the Crook Farm Homestead, a heritage site that features a one-room schoolhouse and restored farmhouse from the 19th century. This is one of many trails maintained by the Tuna Valley Trail System.
The Hidden Valley Passage is 1.5 mile section of a railroad grade dating back to the 1800s. Part of the Marilla Trail network, the lower end of the trail begins directly behind the Indian Pipe trailhead kiosk, five miles west of Bradford along Route 346.
Indian Pipe Trail is a 7.4 mile non-motorized trail which crosses 4,000 acres of Allegheny Northern Hardwood forest under the stewardship of the Bradford Water Authority. A multitude of flora and fauna species can be observed from this trail including the Indian Pipe Flower (Monotropa Uniflora) after which it is named. This is a good trail for bicycling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing as well as hiking, since it is mostly on roads and is wide and smooth.
Marilla Bridges Trail is a 1 mile loop trail with forest and water vistas. Highlights include the Erik Benjamin Covered Bridge, which spans the spillway of the Marilla Reservoir, three rustic wooden trestle bridges, and a delightful gazebo located at the southwest corner of the trail. The trailhead is located along Route 346, five miles west of the City of Bradford.
Marilla Springs Trail is a 3.6 mile trail that is a slightly more aggressive trail experience for the avid hiker and mountain biker. The trail begins at the southwest corner of the Marilla Bridges Trail. The limestone surfaced trail offers progressive changes in direction and elevation paralleling Marilla Springs at its point of origin.
The Richard McDowell Community Trail is a 1.4 mile, 10-foot wide paved surface trail that meanders along the west branch of the Tunungwant Creek. Trail features include three bridges, five raised walkways and a variety of natural vistas. Trail access is via Campus Drive, close to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
There are other great trails in different parts of the area.
Goosechaser Trail loops along the banks of Marvin Creek in Hamlin Lake Park in Smethport. Named for the Canada geese that have frequented the lake, the trail skirts the habitats of many wetland creatures, including waterfowl. Access is from the northeastern corner of the Guidance Center/Smethport Wellness Center parking lot.
Kinzua Valley Trail is for hiking and biking; in winter you can experience the solitude and beauty of this trail for cross-country skiing. Located along the banks of the scenic Kinzua Creek, the surface is crushed limestone. The trailhead is accessed from the village of Westline. From Route 6, travel north on Route 219, turn left onto Westline Road.
The Wolfinger Trail System of trails, close to the village of Smethport, are available for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Many loops can be made, from a short half hour stroll along Sandy Lane to several hours’ worth of vigorous hiking on the North Trail. Begin at the main trailhead, located on Route 46 north, 1.1 miles from the Route 6 intersections, on the left side of the gate. Maps are available at the trailhead.
To learn more about the hiking and camping opportunities in the Allegheny National Forest Region of Pa., head over to www.visitANF.com.