(Above photo of Baker Trail in Cook Forest by Jeff London)
Hitting the Trail
With beautiful scenery all around, and miles of trails, hiking and bicycling are two of the most popular activities in the region.
Hikers love the Clarion/Little Toby Trail, which runs from Ridgway to Brockway. It follows the Clarion River then Little Toby Creek, past six ghost towns, a swinging bridge over a creek, and the remnants of a 1932 train wreck.
Cook Forest State Park has many trails to explore. No fewer than 8 trails lead through the Forest Cathedral which is home to giant ancient hemlocks and pines.
The scenery along the Seneca Trail is outstanding every season as well. The trail leads to Seneca Point and the Fire Tower, each offering a commanding view of the Clarion River Valley below.
(Above photo of Tobacco Trail Linking Cook Forest & Clear Creek State Parks)
You can explore Beartown Rocks, the best kept secret in Clear Creek State Park. This impressive collection of house-sized boulders, created by glaciers, offers breathtaking views of the Clarion River Valley. The park also has miles of well-maintained trails where abundant wildlife can be seen.
The Redbank Valley Trail was named 2014 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year by DCNR.
The trail parallels scenic Redbank Creek through mostly natural areas over many bridges and stone arches, connecting East Brady to Brookville via New Bethlehem.
The Allegheny National Forest has over 600 miles of hiking trails: Just outside of Marienville, you’ll find Buzzard Swamp, a landscape of forests, meadows, and 15 man-made ponds that provide habitat for a spectacular array of birds and other wildlife, so be sure to bring your binoculars. Also check out Twin Lake trail north of Ridgway, the Minister Creek Trail near Tionesta which is known many giant boulders, and the new West Creek Trail connecting Emporium to St. Marys.
When it snows cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are fun ways to enjoy a winter wonderland. The Brush Hollow Trail just north of Ridgway has three loops for skiing with scenic overlooks of the Big Mill Creek Valley.
Cornplanter State Forest has six miles of cross-country ski trails winding through woodlands. The forest is located just north of Tionesta in Forest County. It was named in honor of Chief Cornplanter, the leader of the Seneca tribe.
Our state parks in the area are awesome places to go snowshoeing. They have miles of trails that are less visited in winter. Snowshoeing through the Cathedral of Ancient Pines in Cook Forest is particularly beautiful.
These are just some of the amazing trails in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Region. Get your free Trail Maps by calling our visitors bureau (814) 849-5197 or VisitPAGO.com. Trail maps also are available at state park and national forest offices.
(Horseback riding at Pine Crest Stables in Cook Forest)
A favorite area for horseback riding is the Thunder Mountain Equestrian Trail. The trail loops through the 200,000-acre Elk State Forest with a trail head near Benezette and trail access near Emporium. It is incredibly scenic with towering trees, mountain views, open fields, thick forest, and abundant wildlife including wild elk. Trail maps and information are available at the forest office in Emporium (814) 486-3353 and at dcnr.state.pa.us.
Spring Creek Horse Trail, located just outside of Marienville in the Allegheny National Forest, winds through a beautiful remote area of the forest for nearly 40 miles. Horses are permitted on hundreds of miles of Forest Service roads in the Allegheny National Forest. Open riding is permitted except on hiking and cross-country skiing trails. For more information contact the Marienville Ranger Station at (814) 927-5734 or visit the ANF website at — www.fs.usda.gov/allegheny.
Browns Run Trail in Cook Forest State Park is specifically designated for equestrian travel. State forest roads and old wood roads also provide access for horseback riding. Find out more by calling (814) 744-8407 or visiting dcnr.state.pa.us.
Private stables also charter guided trail rides in the region including several in the Cook Forest Area.ol
It’s an adventure sport that lets you enjoy treasure hunting and the PA Great Outdoors.
All you need is a hand-held GPS, similar to the navigation systems in cars. Your goal is to find hidden treasures known as caches. You begin your adventure knowing only the longitude and latitude coordinates of the cache, then letting your GPS guide you to it.
A typical cache is in a small waterproof container with a logbook and perhaps a few inexpensive toys or trinkets inside. Geocachers write the date and sign their name in the log book. They are welcome to take a trinket as a memento of their find. If you plan to take a trinket, bring a trinket to leave for the next person who finds the cache.
Visit geocaching.com and type in one of the zip codes for our area:
Cook Forest 16217
East Brady 16028
St. Marys 15857
Find more information to help you plan a trip to the PA Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197.