The mountain forests in our part of Pennsylvania are priceless natural wonders. They are renowned for their inspiring beauty, especially in the fall as the colors of the leaves turn orange, mustard and scarlet. As the dappled greens of summer wane to reveal the dazzling oranges, crimsons and golds of autumn, the woodlands of Pennsylvania show their true colors. When you take into consideration Cook Forest, the Allegheny National Forest, and the several state parks and natural areas located in our part of the state, the trees outnumber the people easily by a thousand to one. For folks on a fall leaf drive, that means Mother Nature’s crazy quilt of color can be enjoyed around almost every bend in the road wherever you go. We have put together a few recommended routes for your convenience along with a number of our favorite stops along the way. Enjoy!
Eagle’s Flight (105 miles, 2 hours and 20 minutes)
This drive features the beautiful countryside of Clarion County and winds through dense forests, along peaceful rivers, by quiet farms, and into some beautifully quaint small towns that epitomize the meaning of Americana and offer a number of interesting and unique stops along the way.
Starting at the Clarion County Courthouse in downtown Clarion, take North 5th Avenue out of town and across the bridge spanning the upper end of the Piney Reservoir on the Wild & Scenic Clarion River. Stay on Miola Road (Route 1005) for 14 miles. A) While on Miola Road, stop at Kalyumet Fore Fun for a round of mini-golf, a game of laser tag, or a snack.
Make a left onto Route 36 North and drive 8 miles through the town of Leeper. Make a left on Sunny Road in the town of Tylersburg, and then another left onto Route 208 East towards the town of Fryburg. B) When in Fryburg enjoy shopping for antiques and collectibles at the Fryburg Old Treasures Depot. You’ll find this store by heading south on Route 208, right off Old Fryburg Road.
Once in the town of Fryburg, stay on Route 208 for 12.6 miles until your reach Shippenville. From Shippenville, stay on Route 208 East through Knox for 13.6 miles. C) Stretch your legs and spot some birds and other wildlife at the Beaver Creek Natural Area.
Make a left on Route 478 West/PA 38 South for 2.2 miles to St. Petersburg. Once you reach St. Petersburg, make a right on to Route 58 East. Follow this road for 2.3 miles to the resort town of Foxburg. D) Foxburg is a must-stop for travelers. The riverside town offers everything from wineries, a chocolatier, fine dining, lodging, an art gallery, and America’s oldest country club in continuous use.
Leaving Foxburg, cross the bridge over the Wild & Scenic Allegheny River, and then make a left on Route 268 South/Kittanning Pike for 11 miles towards Petrolia.
Make a left onto Main Street, which becomes Queenstown Road (Route 4002) for 6.2 miles, and then make another left on to Route 68 East for 10 miles through East Brady to Rimersburg. E) Before leaving East Brady, take a moment to enjoy the new East Brady Mural. This pristine panorama can be found at 326 Kellys Way, in downtown East Brady. It highlights the town’s position as the “Playground of the Allegheny”.
F) When leaving East Brady, be sure to take in the spectacular view at Brady’s Bend Overlook.
As you leave Rimersburg make a right on Route 861 East. After that it’s 11.6 miles to New Bethlehem. Once in New Bethlehem turn left on Route 66 North for 16.2 miles until you reach Clarion. Make a left on Main Street and end your journey with a visit to G) Clarion River Brewing Company on the corner of 6th and Main.
Wapiti Way (86 miles, 2 hours and 20 minutes)
This drive offers spectacular mountain views in the heart of Pennsylvania’s wild elk country. Wykoff Run Road in the Quehanna Wild Area is a destination in and of itself. With so many twists and turns and roadside waterfalls, this route is sure to excite even the most apathetic traveler.
Starting at the Elk Country Visitor Center, make a left turn at the bottom of the hill onto Winslow Hill Road. Follow this road for 1.5 miles until you reach the town of Benezette.
From Benezette, turn right on Route 555 for 3 miles to Medix Run. A) While there, shop for some spectacular art pieces at the Nuthatch Studio.
Turn Left on the Quehanna Highway for 14.4 miles. B) The Marion Brooks Natural Area is a must see stop for visitors. You’ll be amazed by the huge stand of Eastern White Birch trees. Make a sharp left turn onto Wykoff Run Road and then follow it for 10 miles to Sinnemahoning.
From Sinnemahoning take Route 120 West for 21.6 miles to the town of Emporium. C) Keep an eye out for the Driftwood Saloon and Grill just off Route 555 in the town of Driftwood for a meal worth writing home about. From Emporium take Route 120 West 19 miles to St. Marys. D) While in Emporium you can visit the Cameron County Chamber of Commerce and Artisan Center to view some magnificent handmade pieces crafted by local artisans.
Upon entering St. Marys, make a left at Sorg Street. E) While there, visit the world-famous Straub Brewery and take a drink from their “Eternal Tap”. From Sorg Street, turn left on Brusselles Street. Follow Brusselles Street as it veers to the right and becomes South Michaels Street in .4 miles. Turn Left on to Route 255 South/North St. Marys Street. Continue on Route 255 South for 8.8 miles. F) Be sure to sample some premium vintage at the Elk Mountain Winery while you’re nearby. Turn left on Caledonia Road. Follow it for 3.7 miles. Turn left on Route 555 East and back to Benezette for some more elk viewing!
Also look for:
G) Sinnemahoning State Park, the George B. Stevenson Dam, and the Wildlife Center a Sinnemahoning State Park – Sinnemahoning
H) Mason Hill Overlook, nicknamed the “Top of the World” – Driftwood
I) West Creek Rail Trail – Emporium
J) The Mt. Zion Historical Park – Caledona
Groundhog Loop (107 miles, 2 hours and 30 minutes)
This drive features the town of Punxsutawney, (home of the world-famous weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, the most unique Harley Davidson dealership in the country, two historic towns, Brookville and Ridgway, the Wild & Scenic Clarion River, and some of the most beautiful scenery Pennsylvania has to offer.
Starting at the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau in Brookville make a left on Maplevale Road. Turn right on Jenks Street. In 1 mile make a slight right on to Valley Street, and another slight right on South White Street. Continue on Route 36 South/South White Street for 19.5 miles.
Turn left on Walston Road and follow it for 2.4 miles until it becomes North Findley Street. Follow that for .8 miles and you’ll find yourself in the “Weather Capital of the World”, Punxsutawney. A) Learn about weather with fun, hands-on exhibits at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center.
Following North Findley Street, make a left onto Clark Street. From Clark Street make another left onto Route 119 North. Follow Route 119 North for 13.5 miles, until you reach Sykesville.
In Sykesville, turn left on Route 119/Sykes street and follow this road for 3 miles. Head northeast on Route 119 North towards Route 322 West/28th Division Highway. Follow this for 1 mile before making a left on Route 219 North.
Follow Route 219 North for 2.7 miles. Then, make a left turn on East Dubois Avenue. B) Stop at DuBois Harley Davidson, “The Most Unique Harley Davidson Dealership in the U.S.A”.
Upon leaving DuBois Harley Davidson, make a left on Route 219 North/West DuBois Avenue and follow that for 9.8 miles to Brockway.
From Brockway, turn right onto 219 North and follow that for 17.5 miles to Ridgway. C) On your way, stop at the BP Inn and try some of their world famous hot dogs and frosted beer mugs.
In Ridgway, make a left turn on South Broad Street. D) Ridgway’s Lily of the Valley Tour of Historic Homes Tour is a must see for visitors of all ages. These magnificent homes were built between 1855 and 1917 and they’re an outstanding example of the lumber heritage that abounds in North Central PA. For maps and more information on the tour, stop in the Ridgway Chamber of Commerce on Main Street.
Take Route 949 South/State Street for .5 miles.
Continue on Route 949 for 16.6 miles before turning right onto Route 949 South and following that for 14.8 miles to Sigel. E) While on Route 949, make sure to stop by the Elk County Elk Farm and try their delicious elk jerky.
In Sigel turn left on Route 36 South. Follow that for 7.5 miles to Brookville. F) Top off your journey by sampling some moonshine at the Blackbird Distillery.
Fantastic Forests (82.3 miles, 2 hours and 15 minutes)
This drive features sparkling waters and dense forests with two nationally designated Wild & Scenic rivers (the Clarion and the Allegheny), Cook Forest State Park, and the ½ million acre Allegheny National Forest. Enjoy both the trip and the destinations on this adventure filled journey.
Starting off in Cook Forest, take River Road for 8.5 miles along the banks of the Wild & Scenic Clarion River to the town of Clarington.
Right outside of Clarington, make a left onto Route 899, and follow it for 9 miles before turning right onto Route 66 North. Continue on Route 66 North through Marienville for 3 miles. A) The Allegheny National Forest Ranger Station will be on your left 3 miles outside of Marienville. Stop over for a chance to learn about the Allegheny National Forest and stretch your legs.
From the Allegheny National Forest Ranger Station, make a left onto Route 66 North and follow it for 4 miles before making another left (feel like a NASCAR driver yet?) on to Blue Jay Creek Road.
Stay on Blue Jay Creek Road for 5.5 miles. After you cross the Tionesta Creek, make a left onto Route 666.
Travel “The Devil’s Highway” Route 666 across the Allegheny National Forest for 24.5 miles and enjoy the spectacular mountain vistas provided until you reach East Hickory. B) While on Route 666, stop by the Flying W Ranch and wet your whistle at the Longhorn Saloon.
While still in East Hickory, make a left on Route 62 South for 7.2 miles as you ride along the Wild & Scenic Allegheny River to the town of Tionesta. While in Tionesta, be sure to check out the C) Sherman Memorial Lighthouse and the D) Tionesta Market Village for some locally made artisans products.
From Tionesta take Route 36 South for 20.6 miles through Leeper back to Cook Forest State Park. Upon entering Cook Forest, take in the stunning views provided by E) Seneca Point and the nearby F) Fire Tower.