Get outside and enjoy the spectacular colors of fall while hiking along a Forest Trail, flying overhead in a Vintage Bi-Plane, or from the water as you kayak at Hamlin Lake or Marilla Reservoir. Bike, dance, enjoy a fall festival and sip some cider! The best of fall awaits in the forestlands of the Allegheny National Forest of northwestern Pennsylvania.
TOP 5 FALL HIKING TRAILS IN THE FOREST
Marilla Bridges Trail is a 1-mile loop trail with brilliant fall foliage and water vistas. Highlights include the wooden Erik Benjamin Covered Bridge which spans the spillway of the Marilla Reservoir, three rustic wooden trestle bridges which cross mountain streams, and a delightful gazebo located at the southwest corner of the trail. This trail is picture perfect for fall photos. The Marilla Reservoir, with its calm waters, is a wonderful spot for kayaking. Roadside parking offers convenient access to both the trail and the water. This trail is family friendly, and it is for non-motorized use only. The trail head is located along Rt. 346, five miles west of the City of Bradford. This trail is rated easy.
Distinctive hikes over and into the Kinzua Gorge are located at the Kinzua Bridge State Park. The Kinzua Sky Walk takes you over the Kinzua Gorge. High in the sky, you will experience amazing 360-degree views of the fall foliage from the sky walk’s partial glass overlook. The Kinzua Sky Walk was built upon the historic towers of the Kinzua Viaduct, so tracks run up the middle, and it extends 624 feet into the Kinzua Gorge at a height of 224 feet. It is free to hike on the sky walk, and admission is free to the park. The Kinzua Creek Trail is a 0.4-mile (one-way) trail down the side of the gorge. The trail switchbacks along the side of the gorge; at the bottom, you can view the sky walk from below and have a close-up view of the massive fallen towers still laying where the tornado winds placed them. This trail is rated difficult. The Kinzua Bridge State Park is located at 296 Viaduct Road, Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania.
The Kinzua Valley Trail is a 7-mile hiking and biking trail perfect for viewing the autumn golds, brilliant reds, deep oranges, and rich yellows, bursting forth during fall, in the forestlands of the Alleghenies. The trail, for a time, winds along the banks of the picturesque Kinzua Creek.
The surface of the trail is crushed limestone, and it is family-friendly, with easy access to the trailheads at Westline or Red Bridge Campground. To reach the Westline trailhead, follow PA Rt. 219 north from the intersection of Rt. 6 and Rt. 219 at Lantz Corners. To reach the trailhead at the Red Bridge Campground, travel north from Kane, Pennsylvania on Rt. 321 to the campground located along the edge of the Allegheny Reservoir. Lodging is available at the Westline Inn, and cabins and campsites at Red Bridge Campground may be reserved at www.recreation.gov. This trail is rated moderate in difficulty.
The “Grand-Daddy of all trails, the longest trail in the United States,” is the North Country National Scenic Trail. The North Country Trail is the longest, most colorful trail in the Allegheny National Forest. There are 96.3 miles of this trail within the Forest. It is well marked with blue diamonds. The North Country Trail 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 large trailhead, with a parking area, is located along PA Rt. 346, west of the City of Bradford. The trail is a wonderful back-packing experience during the fall, but allow two to three days as this trail is rated difficult.
A favorite trail and scenic overlook, Rimrock Overlook and Trail is located along the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, in the Allegheny National Forest. Considered by many as one of the most scenic fall vistas in the Forest, your views from the overlook extend miles across the Allegheny Reservoir. You will see all the fall colors reflected in the shimmering surface of the waters of the Reservoir. From the overlook, the short, 1.3-mile trail features carved stone steps that wind down the mountainous rocks to end up at the colorful shoreline of the Allegheny Reservoir. To drive to this destination from the City of Bradford, travel west on PA 59, make a left-hand turn onto Forest Road 454, and drive 2.7 miles to the parking and picnic area. The difficulty rating is moderate for this trail.
Visitors can kayak on the waters of the Allegheny Reservoir, which has a 100-mile plus shoreline. Kayaks may be rented at Willow Bay, on the Reservoir, at 4001 West Washington Street, Bradford, Pennsylvania, or by calling 814-368-4158.
VINTAGE BI-PLANE RIDES FOR VIEWING FALL FOLIAGE
In the fall, the leaves blush scarlet, and turn brilliant shades of gold, yellow and orange. Imagine viewing this unforgettable tapestry of color, as you soar above the forest, with the wind in your hair, and the sun in your face, riding in an open cockpit airplane.
Veteran pilot, Bruce Klein offers safe, enjoyable, and memorable rides in his fully restored 1943 Boeing Stearman. Soar above the forestlands of the Allegheny National Forest and the amazing Kinzua Sky Walk. Prime fall viewing times are the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.
Vintage Bi-Plane Rides leave from the Bradford Regional Airport, located at 212 Airport Drive, Lewis Run, Pennsylvania. Plenty of free parking; gift certificates are available. To book this unforgettable Vintage Bi-Plane Ride for fall, phone Bruce at 814-642-9486 or 814-558-5376.
WHEEL AROUND THE HUB BICYCLE RACE
Bring your cowbell! “The Wheel Around the Hub Bicycle Race” will take place Saturday, September 16 from noon-4pm on historic Pennsylvania Route 6 in Smethport, Pennsylvania.
The ringing of a cowbell is part of the tradition started in the 1890s during a national bicycling phenomenon when the race was first held in Victorian Smethport. In the era before automobiles, the bicycle was a main means of transportation. Today, participants in the race will enjoy wheeling around the paved roads surrounding Smethport.
Races include a 53-mile circuit cycling race, a 15-mile fun run, and a 7-mile youth race. This event benefits the Smethport Fire Department. Registrations may be made online at www.bikereg.com/27819.
For those wishing to watch the race or to participate in the race, be sure to come early, or stay late to enjoy the beauty of this Victorian Village. A self-guided walking tour of the Smethport Mansion District takes you through the village and offers photos, a map, and historical highlights of over 32 historic buildings. Walking Tour Brochures may be picked up in front of the courthouse at the outdoor kiosk, or at many local establishments. (Turn to page 21 to learn more about Smethport’s Mansion District.) Two lovely B&B’s, the Mansion District Inn and the Blackberry Inn are both within walking distance of downtown. The PA Wilds Vacation Suites and Executive Rentals also offer warm and welcoming accommodations in downtown Smethport.
KINZUA BRIDGE PARK FALL FESTIVAL
One of the signature fall festivals held in the region, the Kinzua Bridge Fall Festival will be held September 16 -17 from 10am-6pm at the Kinzua Bridge State Park in Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania.
Held in and among the forest shaded picnic area, the setting is both relaxing and inviting. Local craft vendors will be showcasing their wares, music will be provided through the day by live musical performances, and a wide variety of food - including the delicious entrees found at Little Sister’s Big Rig - are spectacular.
A big-foot calling contest is scheduled for 4pm. Visitors to the park will want to tour the newly opened Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center to learn the amazing story at the Kinzua Sky Walk constructed on the towers of the original Kinzua Viaduct. The Kinzua Sky Walk was selected as “One of the top 10 most scenic sky walks in the world” by The Culture Trip. U.K., and in the fall the view of the colors of the forest is amazing.
Location is 296 Viaduct Road, Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania. For additional information please visit www.kinzuabridgefoundation.com, the sponsors of the event.
MOON DANCE AT THE HISTORIC WESTLINE DANCE HALL
Plan to kick up your heels and enjoy the music of local bands at the annual Moon Dance, scheduled for Saturday, September 23 at the historic Westline Dance Hall from 4-10pm in Westline, Pennsylvania. This annual fundraiser helps support the work of building and maintaining the Kinzua Valley Trail which reaches from Westline to the Red Bridge Campground in the Allegheny National Forest.
Homemade entrees and side dishes, desserts made from family recipes, and refreshments will give you the energy to climb the stairs to the music hall and spend the evening dancing. A total of 200 tickets will be sold for the event. Overnight accommodations are available at the Westline Inn, 15 E.L. Day Drive, Westline, Pennsylvania, phone 814-778-5103, or nearby at Lantz Corners Getaway, 2952 Route 219, Lantz Corners, Pennsylvania, phone 814-778-5391.
Tickets are $35 per person, which includes an all-you-can-eat pig roast, wine and other beverages and live music, which starts at 6pm. This fun event is the main annual fundraiser for the Kinzua Valley Trail Club, www.kinzuavalleytrailclub.org. Tickets may be purchased by e-mailing Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIND YOUR OWN TRAIL
Free downloadable trail maps are available at www.visitANF.com/download-maps-guides. For a full list of lodging for fall foliage road trips, restaurants, and other things to see and do, call 800-473-9370 to request a free visitors guide and map, or go to www.visitANF.com.