It is time to leave the city behind and get back to nature. Located between the Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania and Allegany State Park in New York, McKean County, Pennsylvania is Trail Central!
Bring the family or come alone. Trails vary in difficulty from short, family-friendly trails such as Timberdoodle Flats - an interpretive birding trail, to the grandfather of all trails - the North Country Trail - larger and bigger than the famous Appalachian Trail. For those looking for a water trail experience, Froggy Bottom Allegheny River Outfitters can get you on the river. For those seeking motorized trail adventures, Majestic Kamp & Lost Trails in Rew, PA (majestictrails.com) offers guided ATV trail rides.
The lists below highlights the length, difficulty, sights to see along the trail, and where the trailhead parking is located for each trail. Free downloadable maps are available at visitanf.com/download-maps-guides. Topo maps of the trails within the Allegheny National Forest may be purchased at the Bradford Ranger District Office, 29 Forest Drive in Bradford, PA.
Nestled within the public lands of the Allegheny National Forest are 13 hiking trails covering 201 miles, and 10 interpretive trails covering 18 miles. Dispersed camping is permitted in the Forest, and there are over 1,000 campsites available for rent in a variety of locations, including Willow Bay where you can camp along the shoreline. Cabin rentals are also available. For additional information please call 814-368-4158 or click on alleghenysite.com. There is no gate fee to enter the Allegheny National Forest.
TRAIL HIGHLIGHTS WITHIN THE ALLEGHENY NATIONAL FOREST
North Country National Scenic Trail: With 96.3 miles of completed trail 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. Perfect for backpacking, the northern section from Route 321 to the Red Bridge Recreational Area is approximately 29 miles, so allow 2-3 days. Difficulty level is moderate to difficult.
Morrison Trail: This is an 11.4-mile loop trail. 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 2-3 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. The difficulty level is moderate to difficult.
Rimrock Overlook: A short 0.2 mile interlocking trail system with a developed overlook. Highlights include the massive rock formations and scenic vistas of the shorelines of the Allegheny Reservoir. From Bradford travel west on PA 59 to a left-hand turn onto Forest Road 454 and drive 2.7 miles to access the parking/picnic area. Difficulty is rated easy to moderate in difficulty.
Timberdoodle Flats Interpretive Trail: 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. This trail is rated easy in difficulty.
Tracy Ridge Hiking Trail System: Explore 33.7 miles of interconnecting loops suitable for hiking or cross-country skiing. Drive 18 miles west from the City of Bradford on PA 346, turn south onto PA 321 for 3 miles, turn right into the Tracy Ridge Campground to access the trailhead. From PA 59, turn north on PA 321 driving 11 miles. Hemlock groves, meadows, scenic streams, and hardwood forest are sights you will see along this trail. This trail is rated moderate in difficulty.
NOTEWORTHY TRAILS WITHIN McKEAN COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
Welcome to the Tuna Valley, Potato Creek and Kinzua Valley Trail Systems. Opportunities to view wildlife - deer, squirrel, grouse, and turkey are good … one might even spy the occasional American Bald Eagle soaring overhead.
Bullis Hollow Trail is perfect for a 2-3 day backpacking experience. All trails listed here are public access, with no fees to hike. Trailheads are well marked. Please follow the trail creed of “Carry-In, Carry Out” leaving a light footprint on nature when recreating in the outdoors.
Bullis Hollow Trail: This 8.3-mile trail connects to the Marilla Springs Trail at the upper trailhead; from there the trail heads west along a narrow gauge railroad grade, crossing Forest Service Road 137 and climbing to reach Tracy Ridge Trail Network. To extend to a multi-day backpacking experience, trek north along the North Country into New York, and loop back to Pennsylvania on the Black Snake Trail in Allegany State Park, connecting to Indian Pipe Trail, returning to Marilla. Trail map and backpacking notes are available at tunavalleytrail.com/Bullis.
Crook Farm Trail: A 1.2 mile hiking trail along the banks of the scenic Tunungawant Creek, located just north of the City of Bradford. From the north, travel PA 219 to Foster Brook Exit, turn right, turn right at the light, 1 mile on the right. 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 trail is rated easy in difficulty.
Goosechaser Trail: This ¾-mile long 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 Ceter parking lot. Difficulty level is rated easy.
Hidden Valley Passage: This 1.5-mile section is 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. Difficulty level is rated easy to moderate.
Kinzua Bridge State Park: A distinctive hike from the parking area to the new pedestrian walkway, the Kinzua Sky Walk will provide views of the Kinzua Gorge from a height of over 300 feet. The General Kane Trail named after Thomas Leiper Kane, is a 1-mile loop hiking trail. It leads people through forested areas that were ravished by the tornado, as well as those that remained unharmed. The trailhead is located at 41 45, 420N 078 35.133 W. Difficulty level is moderate.
Kinzua Valley Trail: A 4-mile trail for hiking and biking, hikers will enjoy the solitude and beauty of this trail. 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. Difficulty level is moderate in difficulty.
Marilla Bridges Trail: 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. Non-motorized use only. The trailhead is located along Route 346, five miles west of the City of Bradford. Difficulty is rated easy.
Marilla Springs Trail: This 3.6-mile trail 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. Difficulty level is rated moderate to difficult.
Shawmut Trail: A 2-mile non-motorized trail. This trail first follows Marvin Creek and then traverses woodland settings, open meadows and farmland. Sights along the way include historic McKean County Poor Farm. Trailhead is located along Route 6, west of Smethport, near the Marvin Creek Bridge. Don’t let the cows out … .when you open the gate to access the trail, please remember to close it as you cross active farmlands. Difficulty level is rated easy.
White Pine Trail: A 3-mile loop, past towering, old growth white pines. Entrance to the trail is at the confluence of Marilla Brook and Lean-to-Run. From the Marilla Bridges Trail, follow the run upstream to the white pines.Difficulty level is rated moderate.
Wolfinger Trail System: A system of trails - close to the village of Smethport - is 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.Difficulty level is rated easy to moderate.
If paddling through nature in a kayak or canoe is more your pleasure, the Potato Creek Water Trail offers three canoe launch sites.
Potato Creek Water Trail: Potato creek flows north, merging into the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. The Allegheny River then flows into Portville, New York, heading west into Salamanca, then turning south into the Allegheny Reservoir. The water trail includes Crosby Ball Field to East Smethport to Coryville - 10.9 miles. Coryville to Larabee - 2.7 miles. Water Access Points include Route 46 south to Crosby Ball Field (41.74861 4N- 78-3933417W) to float along Potato Creek, 10.9 miles - Champlin Hill Road towards Turtle Point (41.88187N-78-389500W), or 8.5 miles north of Smethport on Route 446 (41.901384N-78.384720W) the most northern point, Larabee Y, which has access to the Allegheny River. Difficult level is rated easy.
Froggy Bottom Allegheny River Outfitters: Kayak near the headwaters of the Allegheny River. No big rapids here, just plenty of beautiful scenery with a nice current to help carry you along. Travel for miles without seeing a car or house; enjoy the beauty of the river and forest where you have the opportunity to view ducks, geese and deer along the shoreline. This is family friendly kayaking. Beginners can plan a 4-hour kayaking excursion from Boyer’s Crossing paddling back down to Dunbar. For intermediate paddlers looking for a longer day trip on the river for 6-7 hours with a stop for lunch, we suggest a trip from Roulette to Dunbar. Waterways serviced include the Allegheny River, Potato Creek and Little Genesse. Kayak rentals for the day are only $30, livery $10. This includes the kayak (sit-in), life vests for adults or children, and paddles. Excursions are normally self-guided. Participants should plan on bringing lunch, beverages, sunblock, bug spray, sunglasses and waterproof bags for anything you want to keep dry! Call 814-558-0842 or e-mail email@example.com for information or to schedule your kayaking adventure with Froggy Bottom Allegheny River Outfitters.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
The Allegheny National Forest Region offers a full range of family fun activities along with outdoor trails. Shopping trails, and food & wine trails can round out your getaway. Accommodations include something for every taste and budget. You can view the full list of activities, accommodations, attractions, museums, shopping and upcoming events at visitanf.com. For a FREE Visitors Guide & Map please call 800-473-9370 or e-mail info@visitANF.com.