In autumn, Mother Nature puts on the show of the year with endless canopies of crimson and gold in the Allegheny National Forest region, and there is no better way to view this spectacle than by car or motorcycle. The following scenic drives are not only beautiful, but also take you to places such as the amazing Kinzua Sky Walk at the Kinzua Gorge, through the colorful forestlands of the Allegheny National Forest region, to idyllic towns and beyond.
SCENIC PENNSYLVANIA ROUTE 6
Begin your Journey on Pennsylvania Route 6 in the quaint town of Port Allegany with a stroll through the Serenity Glass Museum, or enjoy kayaking on the Allegheny River before heading west on Route 6 and continuing to the town of Smethport. Once you have reached the Victorian village, tour the streets to witness the amazing architecture of mansions built in the 1800s by lumber barons. A self-guided walking tour brochure is available at the kiosk in front of the McKean County Courthouse.
Continuing west on Route 6, turn right to take a four-mile side trip on the Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway to the Kinzua Bridge State Park to “Walk the Tracks Across the Sky” on the Kinzua Sky Walk, located at 296 Viaduct Road in Mt. Jewett, PA. The Kinzua Sky Walk is considered “One of the Top Ten Most Scenic Skywalks in the World,” offering 360-degree panoramic views of the Kinzua Gorge. The park is open from 8am until dusk year-round and offers nature programs, picnic areas and hiking and biking trails. The Knox & Kane Rail Trail is a 3.8-mile linear trail suitable for families, and the Kinzua Creek Trail winds down the side of the gorge and is for experienced hikers only. Admission to the park and skywalk are free.
Travel back to Route 6, drive west from the park and consider stopping for the evening at the Kane Manor in the village of Kane. Wake up refreshed and renewed after an ultra-comfortable stay at this National Historic Landmark and utilize the morning to explore local artisans’ works at Artworks on the Summit, located at 54 N. Fraley Street, followed up with a delicious spot for foodies, Bell’s Meat & Poultry. In the afternoon, sample wine at Flickerwood Wine Cellars or Twisted Vine, or a brew or two at Logyard Brewing, and don’t miss sampling the world’s only Leek Vodka at CJ Spirits Craft Distillery.
LONGHOUSE NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY
Leave Kane on Route 321 north to set off to journey on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, named “One of the Top Six Fall Foliage Drives in the United States.” Follow Route 321 along the Allegheny Reservoir and up into the highlands through a beautiful forest of hardwoods and hemlock. Turn left on Route 59 back toward the Allegheny Reservoir, and in a short distance you will pass the trailhead for Morrison Trail; the 5.3-mile trail has two loops passing through boulder fields and forgotten homesteads. Known as Trail Central, the Allegheny National Forest has hundreds of miles of trails. Before your trip, download trail maps and more information at VisitANF.com/hiking so you can plan your hikes along the way. Many of the local trails are also suitable for biking.
Back on the road, watch for signs along the byway for Rimrock Overlook, a scenic overlook offering stunning vistas of the Allegheny Reservoir from atop impressive rock formations. Longhouse Drive continues past the Kinzua Wolf Run Marina to Kinzua Point - another magnificent overlook - and then to Jakes Rocks. If you enjoy mountain biking, this is where you will find the Jakes Rocks Mountain Biking Trail. You may either loop around the reservoir on Forest Service Roads and return to Kane or backtrack across the bridge through Marshburg on Route 59, which becomes Route 770. Turn north on Route 219 to visit the Penn Brad Oil Museum, which tells the storied history of the area’s oil boom days. After visiting the museum, continue driving on Route 219 north to arrive in Bradford.
Bradford’s downtown is a National Historic District; plan to leave time to explore some of the town’s heritage highlights: The Zippo/Case Museum, the Marilyn Horne Museum, and the eclectic architecture of Main Street built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In Bradford, you have plenty of choices of family-owned restaurants such as Beefeaters, A Slice of the 80’s, Togi’s Family Restaurant or the Bradford Brew Pub in which to sample the local cuisine. The Best Western Plus Bradford Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Mountain Laurel Inn B&B, and the Bradford Flatiron Airbnb offer lodging for the night.
If you desire something more rustic, drive out Route 346 west from Bradford to the Allegheny National Forest; there you can sit back and relax in front of a fire while roasting marshmallows next to a tent site or rustic cabin off the shores of the Allegheny Reservoir at the Willow Bay Recreation Area.
In the morning, follow Route 346 along the northern shoreline of the Allegheny Reservoir. This area offers vistas of the water and forest, and many species of birds such as American Bald Eagles and Osprey can be sighted in this area. The roadway continues north, past the New York/ Pennsylvania state line, changing into NY Route 219 and then merging with I-86 where you can then take a left to drive to Seneca Gaming & Entertainment, the Seneca Allegany Casino and the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, NY, or the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY.
EASTERN CONTINENTAL DIVIDE LOOP
Passing through some of the most rugged terrain in the Allegheny Highlands and the Pennsylvania elk range, the Eastern Continental Divide route is a loop which begins in Smethport, east along Route 6, past Lynn Hall to Port Allegany, then south to the Sizerville Wildlife Center, Benezette and the Elk Country Visitors Center, looping west then north through rugged forestlands to St. Marys before returning to Smethport. Be sure to leave plenty of time for stops along the way.
As you leave Smethport, traveling east on Route 6, you will travel past an Allegheny Modernism architectural gem, Lynn Hall. Located at 21656 Route 6, 1 mile east of Port Allegany, Lynn Hall is currently undergoing a major renovation. Lynn Hall Restoration Tours may be scheduled in advance by calling 954-554-8492. Driving a little further east is Port Allegany. Here, Serenity Glass Park, built with the town’s signature glass blocks, is a delightful stop for photography. Turn south onto Route 155, where you will crest the Eastern Continental Divide, continue to Sizerville State Park for a quick stop at their Wildlife Center. Drive south on Route 155, changing into Route 120, then Route 555 southwest to Benezette where the Elk Country Visitors Center will greet you with interpretative displays and offer the opportunity to observe elk and white-tail deer from their outdoor wildlife observation area.
Continue along Route 555, merge north on Route 255 to the town of St. Marys where the Straub Brewery is located. Stop into the Straub Brewery Visitors Center, located at 303 Sorg Street, to taste traditional German American lagers and ales. In its original location since 1872, Straub is the 3rd oldest family-owned brewery in the country. Follow Route 120 west through the lush canopy of the forest touched by the gold and crimson in fall, until you reach Route 46 north, drive north to Route 6 to head back to the charming essence of small-town Americana, Smethport, Pennsylvania. Overnight lodging in Smethport includes two lovely B&B’s, the Mansion District Inn and the Blackberry Inn.
For more attractions and sites to visit along these four routes or for all seven routes, go to the color-coded driving map on page 20.
EXPERIENCE THE FUN OF FALL
The Allegheny National Forest region is gearing up for the official beginning of autumn. Many local events will be happening on Saturday, September 28 including the Annual Fall Flickerwood Festival in Kane and Pumpkinfest in Bradford. Also, National Hunting and Fishing Day at the Kinzua Bridge State Park will feature an introduction to archery course and a display by local trappers.
Flickerwood Fall Festival is a celebration of harvest and winemaking. The event will feature live music, local artisans, food, wine tastings, tours, Sangria and Bloody Mary bars, as well as new wines and more from 10am-8pm at 309 Flickerwood Road in Kane, PA. For more information about this spectacular fall celebration call 814-837-7566 or email email@example.com.
Meanwhile, in Bradford on September 28, the Pumpkinfest will be held from noon-4pm. The festivities will feature many vendors set up on Bradford’s Main Street, including food, entertainment, pumpkins and more pumpkins! The Main Street Movie House at 123 Main Street will be showing a free movie during the event. Fireworks, face painting, game booths, hay wagon and pony rides are sure to keep children of all ages entertained during this fun afternoon festival. For more information about the festival visit www.faceook.com/Pumpkin-Fest or call 814-368-7170.
A JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE KINZUA GORGE ... WITH A CAMERA
Join the Twin Tiers Camera Club for a unique experience under the inky summer night sky at the bottom of the Kinzua Gorge of the Kinzua Bridge State Park, 296 Viaduct Road in Mt. Jewett, PA. Bring your camera as the club members will be providing expert advice on the use of your camera for capturing that perfect picturesque photo of the moon shining in the star-filled night sky.
Participants should report in front of the Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center Classroom at 6:30pm on September 27 for a brief introduction before the journey to the bottom of the gorge to take photos of the Kinzua Sky Walk against the Milky Way. The Twin Tiers Camera Club respectfully requests a $35 donation be made at the time of the course.
PLAN YOUR COURSE
For all the things to see and do, along with a full schedule of events, go to visitANF.com.