The Allegheny National Forest is located in northwestern
Pennsylvania. It consists of 512,000 acres and is the only
National Forest in Pennsylvania. Nearly 9,000 acres are
designated as Wilderness. There are 11 developed campgrounds, 10
of which meet the selection criteria.
Deep valleys carved by rivers, creeks and streams, misty mountains shaded by lush hardwoods, and beautiful lakes scattered around, the Allegheny National Forest offers visitors a wide variety of recreational opportunities and outstanding camping locations. Established as Pennsylvania's only national forest in 1928, the Forest Service has developed the Allegheny National Forest as a premier place for camping vacations where everyone, from a single college student to the whole family, can enjoy the out-of-doors.
Few forests offer the range of developed campgrounds that are found in the Allegheny National Forest. Scattered across the Forest is the ever popular dispersed camping sites. Not included in this campground review, dispersed sites are undeveloped and often the most secluded camping locations. (Check with the Ranger District Offices for any restrictions.) The Allegheny National Forest also has lots of campgrounds designed for car, tent, even motorhome and recreation vehicle (RV) camping enthusiastics. The variety of camping locations reflects the variety of recreational opportunities found in this national forest.
Like most U.S. National Forests, the Allegheny features a wide variety of hiking trails. From the 86.8-mile North Country National Scenic Trail to the less challenging but equally interesting Black Cherry Interpretive Trail, numerous trails crisscross the Forest's landscape. "Through" hikers on the North Country National Scenic Trail can enjoy the "luxuries" (one being showers) found in Red Bridge and Willow Bay campgrounds which are adjacent to this trail. Campers at Hearts
Content and Twin Lakes, and most other campgrounds can explore an adjacent trail after lunch and be back in camp for dinner.
Mountain biking and ATV are becoming huge activities in many national forests and the Allegheny has not been left behind. Although not adjacent to some of the more popular trails, such as Marienville ATV/Bike or Timberline ATV, Buckaloons and Beaver Meadows campgrounds are close enough to be good basecamps when exploring these trails. It must be noted, there are restrictions on ATV use but most hiking trails are open to mountain bikes. (Check the Allegheny's web site for more information.)
Northern pike, Walleye, and more than fifty other species of fish are found in the Allegheny Reservoir, making fishing a popular forest attraction. However, with ten campgrounds (five accessed only by boat or on foot so not reviewed here), four beaches, six boat ramps, nine picnic areas and scenic overlooks, the Reservoir is popular for more than fishing. Willow Bay, Dewdrop, Kiasutha, and Red Bridge campgrounds line the Reservoir's shore and are the most highly developed cluster of camping locations in the Forest. While Willow Bay campground has a tent camping loop, Dewdrop, with its walk-in tent sites, may been more a favorite for family tent camping. Kiasutha, on the western shore of Kinzua Bay, is a great for motorhome and RV camping but with its history and ample shade, Red Bridge, is a delight for all campers.
Old growth forests are a rare and wondrous sight to see and provide great pictures for the photographer in all of us. The Allegheny National Forest has two magnificent tracts. The Tionesta Scenic Area contains a 2,000-acre tract of the original forest that once cover the Allegheny Plateau of New York and Pennsylvania. Grand old beech, hemlock, and Sugar maple, some 300 to 400 years old, whisper tales of long ago to hikers and picture-takers. Hickory Creek Wilderness, adjacent to Hearts Content campground, also has a good size tract of virgin beech and hemlock trees. The 11.1-mile Hickory Creek Hiking Trail, as well as the 1.3-mile Hearts Content Interpretive Trail, provide visitors an opportunity to view a unique ecosystem undisturbed by the progress of mankind.
One of the Allegheny National Forest's more unique attractions is the orienteering course offered within its boundaries. Orienteering is a recreational and competitive sport that involves the use of a map and compass to find your way through unfamiliar terrain. The orienteering course is offered at Hearts Content campground. Contact the Bradford Ranger District Office for the date and times course is offered. Successful completion of the course results in a Delaware Valley Orienteering Association (DVOA) certificate.
One of Allegheny's smaller developed campgrounds is Loleta but this little campground with a lot to offer campers. Nearby, the Buzzard Swamp, with its network of trails, is a great day trip. This area is an important point on the Atlantic flyway so great for bird-watching as well as anglers. Loleta campground has one loop designed to accommodate tent and small RV camping enthusiasts and a second loop featuring large, level sites and electric hook-ups for large motorhome campers. Anyway you look at it, Loleta campground is good for just about any camper.
History is found all over the Allegheny. From Kiasutha campground's connection to a Seneca People's Chieftain to the impact of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) of the 1930s, visitors are reminded of the area's history. On example of the CCC history and how they enriched the Allegheny National Forest is the Twin Lakes campground. Once the site of Mckean Chemical Company's factory and its supporting community, Twin Lakes campground is now a delightful family campground. In a stand of mixed hardwoods, near the only lake of the twin lakes that was to be constructed, and with electric hook-ups, dump station, showers, flush toilets, good family walking trails, and good fishing, this is a campground for the whole family but also offers seclusion and solitude for those who long for such a forest experience.
Within easy driving distance of several major metropolitan areas in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, the Allegheny National Forest is an oasis of nature and a break in the hectic lives of modern America. The beauty of nature, a wide assortment of trails for foot, mountain bike, and ATV, a healthy forest with robust wildlife populations, campgrounds for all types of campers, whether car, tent, RV or motorhome enthusiasts, fabulous old forests, and so much more can be found in the Allegheny National Forest.
222 Liberty St.
Warren, Pennsylvania 16365
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
Kinzua Heights, Star Rt.
Bradford, Pennsylvania 16701
HC 2, Box 130
Marienville, Pennsylvania 16239
R.D. #1, Box 28A
Ridgeway, Pennsylvania 15853
Kane Rd, Rt. 6
Sheffield, Pennsylvania 16347