Explore Allegheny National Forest and Beyond
Allegheny National Forest covers huge portions of Forest and Elk Counties, creating one of the darkest and least developed landscapes in the northeastern United States, which makes it an excellent destination where you and your family really can get away from it all. To augment the region’s natural attractions, the National Wild and Scenic River System’s Allegheny River passes through Forest County’s western edge. These scenic, undisturbed areas create some great opportunities for family adventure.
Stop in first at the ANF’s Marienville Ranger Station for maps, information, and educational displays that showcase the history of the forest as well as some of what you can find amidst the trees. The ANF features hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, biking, equestrian, ATV riding, snowmobiling, and more, so get out and enjoy this public landscape for all it’s worth. The Buzzard Swamp’s wetland habitat draws lots of birds and wildlife, making the destination a big attraction for people and animals alike. To the north, the seven-mile Minister Creek Trail features beautiful overlooks and massive boulders perfect for climbing. Come back to Marienville for lunch at Bettina’s Italian Restaurant or the Bucktail Hotel, two local staples serving up hot and delicious homemade food.
When you’re tired of the trails, head west to Tionesta, where you can take a tour of the Tionesta Fish Hatchery. Each year, this facility raises millions of musky, walleye, and steelhead fingerlings for stocking the Commonwealth’s waters. The charming Tionesta Market Village opens for business on weekends from May to October, and the diminutive shops will intrigue kids and parents alike. If the novelty wears off for the young ones, they can play on the playground in the market center while Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa shop.
Throughout the warmer months, rent a pontoon boat at Tionesta Marina for an afternoon on Tionesta Lake, or check out the Allegheny River Island Wilderness Area by canoe or kayak. For one Saturday each month from June to October, the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse opens for tours, and your family can climb this 50-foot structure for top-notch views of the Allegheny River, Tionesta, and the surrounding area.
Cap off your trip with a visit to Flying W Restaurant & Longhorn Saloon, Hills in the Forest, Hunters Station Restaurant & Lodge, or Pizza Joe’s for a memorable dinner in Tionesta before you head home, back to your lodgings, or on to your next adventure in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors.