Bright days and starry nights, warm breezes and carefree days are perfect for relaxing or exploring the Allegheny National Forest Region in northwestern Pennsylvania. Rent a kayak, canoe or houseboat to spend some time on the water, enjoy a swim at Kinzua Beach, visit the Kinzua Dam, and nearby in Mt. Jewett, in the Kinzua Bridge State Park check out the amazing Kinzua Sky Walk. Time to plan you next adventure into the Forest!
REFRESHING WATER GETAWAYS
The forest is green and lush, but there’s plenty of blue water in this neck of the woods for canoeing and kayaking, swimming, water skiing, or boating.
The Allegheny Reservoir, located within the Allegheny National Forest, offers over 100 miles of forest shaded shoreline with a wide choice of water activities. At Willow Bay, located at the northeastern shoreline of the Reservoir, you can put in your motorized boat from the paved boat launch. Enjoy a day on the water, relaxing and taking in the scenery, or try your hand at walleye fishing or water skiing. Many small coves along the shoreline provide private areas to enjoy swimming from the boat. Conveniently located near the boat launch at Willow Bay are large parking facilities for your vehicle and boat trailer.
Kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards can be rented from Allegheny Site Management. If you would like to turn your day trip into an overnight, Willow Bay offers a wide assortment of both tent and RV sites, along with primitive cabins. The wooden cabins at Willow Bay feature a delightful porch swing and have a fire pit nearby. Some of the cabins are located along the shoreline; some are located along a mountain stream. Both are ideal for spending your day in the great outdoors on the water or on the nearby trails, with the evenings spent roasting marshmallows around a campfire. For information on cabin rentals, boat rentals, tent and RV camping and outfitting needs, call Allegheny Site Management at 814-368-4158 or go to www.alleghenysite.com.
Kinzua Wolf Run Marina
Located along Rt. 59 between Bradford and Warren, this full service marina along the shoreline of the Allegheny Reservoir offers ready access to the water. The Marina offers boat rentals, houseboat rentals, boat launch and docking, gasoline, seasonal slips, weekend and week slips, and access to primitive “boat access only” camping. Docksiders Café at the Marina offers outdoor seating with a stunning view of the water. Sunsets are spectacular!
Mel’s Land and Sea Deal is available Monday to Thursday, for a limited time this summer. Enjoy a nice lunch or dinner on the deck (or inside) at Docksiders Café from Monday to Thursday. Bring your receipt to the Marina within seven days of the receipt date, and get 100% of your receipt amount, up to $100 (excluding tax and alcohol) off of a 4-hour or longer pontoon boat rental. (Excludes banquet receipts and holiday rentals)
Houseboat Rentals at Kinzua
For a weekend getaway you will never forget, rent a houseboat from the Kinzua Wolf Run Marina. Their houseboats are 28 feet long by 8.6 feet wide, and they comfortably sleep four to six people. The houseboats have hot water showers and a toilet, a fully equipped kitchen with refrigerator, stove, cooking utensils, silverware, dishes, a propane grill and a coffee pot. A lake map and all the safety equipment as required by the PA Fish & Boat Commission are provided. You should bring blankets, towels for kitchen and bath, food, and an attitude of adventure for your getaway on the water!
For reservations at Docksiders, houseboat or boat rentals, or information on other services offered at Kinzua Wolf Run Marina, please call 814-726-1650 or click over to www.kinzuamarina.com.
Located along the Allegheny Reservoir, Kinzua Beach offers free swimming in the Allegheny Reservoir. This day-use, public access beach offers forest shaded picnic areas and free parking. Restrooms are available. The swimming area is reached by walking along a sloping grass covered area to a cement area with a sandy, stone covered shoreline.
At the far end of the parking area, you will find the trailhead for Rimrock Overlook Trail. This short 1.3-mile trail connects the beach area to Rimrock Overlook, one of the most photogenic overlooks in the Forest. To reach Kinzua Beach, drive south on Rt. 219, turning onto Rt. 770 west, which turns into Rt. 59. Travel west along Rt. 59 to the Allegheny Reservoir. Before crossing Morrison Bridge, you will see the entrance to Kinzua Wolf Run Marina on the right, and on the left, via Forest Road 617, is Kinzua Beach.
Another very photogenic site in the Forest is Kinzua Dam. Totally surrounded by forest, the Kinzua Dam and the Allegheny Reservoir are at the heart of one of the largest and most popular outdoor recreation complexes in the northeastern United States. The Kinzua Dam was completed in 1965 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it holds back the waters of the Allegheny River and other tributaries such as Kinzua Creek.
The waters impounded by the Kinzua Dam create the 25-mile elongated lake known as the Allegheny Reservoir. Located along Route 59, west of the City of Bradford, visitors are welcome to walk out onto a portion of the dam to take photographs and to view the sights. Groups, with advance reservations, may tour the structure depending on the availability of project personnel. For additional information on Kinzua Dam, please call 814-726-0661.
KINZUA SKY WALK – KINZUA BRIDGET STATE PARK
The Kinzua Bridge State Park is located to the southeast of Bradford, near the small village of Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania; it is not located in the Allegheny National Forest. The free admission park offers forest shaded picnic areas and hiking trails. It is home to the most amazing of engineering marvels - the Kinzua Sky Walk, which offers spectacular views of the Kinzua Gorge.
The Kinzua Sky Walk is one of the top 10 most beautiful skywalks and viewpoints in the world according to The Culture Trip, U.K. Only three sights in the United States made their list! The Culture Trip describes the Kinzua Sky Walk as follows: “Part of a former viaduct constructed in 1882 to transport coal, oil and lumber across Pennsylvania’s Kinzua Gorge, the Kinzua Sky Walk - measuring 624 feet long and 225 feet high and located within the Kinzua Bridge State Park on the edges of Allegheny National Forest - is an old-world marvel reinvented for the modern era. Featuring a glass-bottomed observation deck, visitors can peer down at the historic structure’s supporting towers.”
Before it became the Kinzua Sky Walk, this amazing structure was known as the Kinzua Viaduct, which when first constructed in 1882 was the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world. The towers of the first viaduct were prefabricated of Phoenix columns made of iron. Once the sandstone foundation piers were in place, 125 men, working 10-hour days, completed the construction of the viaduct in just 94 days. Standing 301 feet tall (24 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge), the viaduct quickly became a tourist destination for Sunday excursions. Walking out on the bridge was the next best thing to flying, and railroad excursions across the Kinzua Gorge thrilled thousands. In 1900, the viaduct was rebuilt using 6.7 million pounds of steel. The Kinzua Viaduct was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and the National Register of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks in 1982.
Then in 2003, an F1 tornado came through the Kinzua Gorge, lifting 11 of the 20 towers from their foundations. Six of the remaining towers were re-invented into what is now recognized worldwide as the Kinzua Sky Walk - a “must-see” attraction for those visiting the area. The Kinzua Sky Walk features a set of steel railroad tracks on the skywalk and a partial glass floor on the observation deck. It is free to walk the Kinzua Sky Walk and it is open seven days a week from 8am to dusk. For park information call 814-965-2646. GPS location: 296 Viaduct Road, Mt. Jewett, PA.
SAVE THE DATE! Sept. 15, 2016 for the Grand Opening of the Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center! The new Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center, a two-story, $8.9 million dollar facility, will be an exciting addition to the Kinzua Bridge State Park. Located at the edge of the Kinzua Gorge, the new 11,000 sq. ft. building has two classrooms and two exhibit halls with displays showcasing the three E’s: engineering, energy, and the environment. More details will follow as we get closer to the date!
FAIRS & FESTIVALS IN THE FOREST
During the summer and fall, the Forest region comes alive with the sounds of laughter, music and families having fun at local fairs and festivals. The local events range from an old-fashioned county fair with livestock judging and blue-ribbon pies, to a Swedish and an Italian Festival honoring the ethnic background of some of the first settlers in the towns of Mt. Jewett and Bradford.
If you love music and the great outdoors, plan a Thursday evening in June, July or August to travel to Port Allegany, PA to enjoy a free “Concert on the Square.” Held at the town’s gazebo in their town square, you will want to bring a lawn chair or a blanket to enjoy setting on the lawn during the concerts, which begin at 6pm. The schedule of performers is posted online at www.townsquareconcerts.com.
To watch 30 PGA pros and 90 local amateurs compete for $100,000 in prize money, call for gallery tickets for the Blaisdell Pro Am at the Pennhills Club. The Pro Am will be held July 24-25 on the Pennhills golf course, a 6,400-yard, par 70, 18-hole championship golf course. Pennhills Club features a marvelous stone clubhouse built in the 1920s and an amazing food and beverage selection. Pennhills Club is located at 146 Pennhills Drive in Bradford, PA. For gallery tickets please call 814-368-6159 or go to www.pennhillsclub.com.
You can enjoy the Festa Italiana August 11-13 in Bradford, and the Mt. Jewett Swedish Festival August 12-14. The McKean County Fair runs the week of August 14-20 at the McKean County Fairgrounds in East Smethport. Derrick Day Festival is August 13 at the Penn Brad Oil Museum in Bradford, and the Kinzua Bridge State Park Festival in Mt. Jewett and Wheel Around the Hub Bicycle Race in Smethport are both in September.
These and other events and attractions are featured on the Fair & Festival Map on page 28. The Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau Welcome Center is located at 80 E. Corydon Street, Bradford, PA, 16701. To request maps, driving tour brochures, and the annual visitors guide with map please call 800-473-9370. For all the things to see and do in the region, click over to www.visitANF.com.