12 Most Stunning State Forest and Natural Areas To Visit In Pennsylvania (2023)
Forests in Pennsylvania occupy nearly 16.9 million acres of land, which is almost 58 percent of the State’s land area, which means every next stop here will lead you towards a beautiful Natural Area. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a mix of both metropolitan and Natural vibes. Be it about its big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh or about its lush spread of Allegheny National Forest or Bartram’s Garden; there’s something in the State for visitors of all age interests and choices.
Pennsylvania is home to 20 State Forests, 1 National Forest, and countless Gardens and Natural areas. Even before you enter the isolated regions of the Pennsylvania State, you can still explore several of these natural wonders within the city boundaries, near downtown or other easily accessible regions. The lush green Pennsylvania forests have it all from rolling hills, impressive rock formations, miles of trails, Flora, Fauna, rivers, lake, waterfalls, and everything that a nature lover craves for.
12 Most Stunning State Forest and Natural Areas To Visit In Pennsylvania
For details, the list of 12 Most Stunning State Forest and Natural Areas to visit in Pennsylvania is here for you.
National Forest of Pennsylvania
1. Allegheny National Forest
The only National Forest in Pennsylvania, Allegheny National Forest, is situated on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It comprises a huge area of 513,175 acres that includes both water and land regions. The forest has both 2,300 feet elevations (plateau top) and 1,000 feet valleys. Allegheny is within the north-western part of the State within Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren counties. It is also home to the most extensive oil and gas production of any National Forest in the United States. Until the end of the 19th century, 80% of the US’s oil came from here, and even today, there are lakhs of active and abandoned oil wells within the forest. Here you can find some of the oldest growing trees of Pennsylvania, along with wildlife and birds. Allegheny is a popular spot for hiking, bicycling, equestrian, cross-country skiing, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, picnicking, camping, snowmobiling, and ATV riding.
State Forest of Pennsylvania
2. Susquehannock State Forest
The Susquehannock State Forest is a scenic preserved region with a total spread of nearly 265,000 acres. Most of its land is within Potter County, though a small portion also enters McKean and Clinton Counties. The State Forest has got its name from the Susquehannock tribe that once inhabited here. Today the forest is known for the most productive stands of black cherry trees in the world and miles of unspoiled Pennsylvania woodlands. Wanderers often head towards the forest to explore the 85 miles loop that goes through forested hills and valleys though mainly easy and comfortable but with a few steep grades. Deer, bear, turkey, grouse, squirrels, and rabbit hunting are permitted throughout the forest, though, for those who want to be considerate with the wild, there’s a lot of animals watching opportunities and spots as well. Susquehannock offers several recreational opportunities, including camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, ATV riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobile, mountain biking, horseback riding, and museum exploring.
3. Bald Eagle State Forest
One of the most popular State Forests in Pennsylvania, the Bald Eagle State Forest spans over 194,602 acres covering a total of 5 counties. It is home to numerous tracts of old-growth forest, sandstone ridges, deep valleys, the Susquehanna River, several free-flowing streams, and miles of trails. One can explore the Pennsylvania Mid State Trail within the forest, though it is known to be the wildest trail in Pennsylvania; thus, make sure you stay safe from wildlife, especially the venomous reptiles. The forest range is home to over 6 natural areas and 1 mountain area, each of which is known for its recreational opportunities and scenic views. There are nearly 13 streams within the forest, all of which are stocked and open for fishing all throughout the year. Bald Eagle State Forest attracts lakhs of fishing enthusiasts all throughout the year.
4. Forbes State Forest
The Forbes State Forest is a huge 50,000 acres region that alone houses 6 State Parks and 3 State Forest Picnic Areas. Though what it is most famous for is Mount Davis, the highest mountain range in Pennsylvania and indeed the most beautiful one as well. One can either hike the mountain or drive through the loops, but once you hit the summit, the views from there are mind-blowing. The best part is that it is at an elevation of 3,213 feet which is even below the lowest of several other American states, but for those who cannot reach more heights, Davis offers an amazing experience. Most of the forested land is untouched and underdeveloped except those for the hiking trails, which are accessible for hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, and fishing.
5. Loyalsock State Forest
One of the most popular places amongst hikers in Pennsylvania, the Loyalsock State Forest is known for its trails and panoramic landscapes. It is one of the largest State Forest of Pennsylvania, comprising about 114,552 acres of land area across the northern tier’s Endless Mountain. The forest has got its name from the Loyalsock stream that winds through the heart of the region and is known to be one of the scenic freestone streams. Of the lakh’s acres of spread, visitors here can access a 59-mile trail that passes through hills and valleys. All the trails here are ideal for hiking and bicycling, ideal for visitors of all fitness levels. Within the forest is one of the most scenic locations, the High Knob Overlook, from where one can capture 7 mountain tops of nearly 7 counties of the State. Loyalsock forest also leads the way to the Worlds End State Park, which is undoubtedly one of the most charming Natural areas in Pennsylvania.
6. Michaux State Forest
Michaux State Forest spans over 85,000 acres of land and water and is home to the few most stunning views of Pennsylvania. The forest is so peaceful that one can actually hear bird songs drifting out from the depth of the forest. These singing birds aren’t the regular ones you would have seen in your daily life around, but they are one of the secretive species that only breed within the large blocks of mountain woodlands. Michaux is one of the important bird areas of America, and you will be lucky enough if you got to spot even one or two of those secretive signing beauties. Michaux State Forest is also popular amongst campers, and one can find some unique campgrounds within the range. No reservation or booking is required though a camping permit is a must. The forest today offers several recreational and fun opportunities, including hiking, hunting, mountain biking, cross-country ski trails, horseback riding, boating, fishing, and picking. A nine-hole golf course can also be found within the range.
7. Tiadaghton State Forest
The Tiadaghton State Forest is one of the largest forested regions in Pennsylvania. It comprises of 146,539 acres area within the Lycoming County apart from some small portions in the Clinton, Potter, Tioga, and Union Counties. It is one of the 8 State Forests within the Pennsylvania wild, which is the biggest block of green and the most alluring Natural sights between New York City and Chicago. Tiadaghton is home to hundreds of miles of trails, and the prime amongst them are the Mid State, Golden Eagle, Black Forest, and the Pine Creek trail. It is also home to Pine Creek that is an ultimate spot for outdoor water recreation in the area. It has 9 launch stations that allow the visitors to boat, kayak, and canoe along with the flow. Getting into the waters of Pine Creek is indeed a lifetime thrill experience; whether you are here for a two-hour easy paddle or a three-day excursion, every single experience is unforgettable. Apart from this, visitors can also indulge in hunting, camping, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife watching, bird watching, snowmobiling, snow skiing, horse-riding, mountain biking, and ATV riding.
8. Tioga State Forest
Another huge forested spread, the Tioga State Forest, comprises nearly 163,000 acres of area. It is home to the Pine Creek Gorge, which is also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, and is noted amongst one of the most loved natural exploration sites in the State. Tioga is home to miles of clean and cool streams, all-level hiking trails, centuries-old tree growth, and a countless number of wild plants and animal life. Camping is one of the famous activities within the forest, and if you are here during the months of October to December, you might find them all occupied; thus, make sure you enter a little early and grab your space. Also, make sure you choose this particular time for your Tioga exploration in case you are want to capture the most beautiful views and colors of the forest.
9. Weiser State Forest
Weiser State Forest is relatively a new forest in the State of Pennsylvania. It was formed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The forest comprises 17,961 acres of land with some very rugged and secluded wooded areas. For an authentic Jungle exploration feel, there’s nothing better than planning a day within the Weiser State Forest. All the secluded regions fall afar with a division of 65 miles of roads that specifically are constructed to suppress wildfire and administrative usage. All thanks to the area and several streams flowing through, it is one great spot to access the purest drinking water (mountain water) you would have ever had in your life. Like any other Pennsylvania forest, it too is open for general recreation, including hunting, fishing, kayaking, boating, mountain biking, hiking, hand-gliding, camping, wildlife, and bird watching.
Natural Areas/ Gardens of Pennsylvania
10. Bartram’s Garden
Bartram’s Garden is a public garden and a National Historic Landmark that is free to explore all throughout the year. The Garden can be reached on the banks of the Tidal Schuylkill River right in the Lenape territory. The present-day Bartram’s Garden basically is 18th-century farmland where the first gardening root of America took pace. It is North America’s oldest surviving Botanical Garden and is also home to some of the oldest thriving plants within the State and the Nation as well. The grounds of Bartram are beautiful, and one can find several hundred plants and tree species thriving beautifully over this extensive 102 acres spread. Every year it hosts over 2 lakh visitors from all across the nation, either the plantation enthusiasts or the ones who are here to attend some kind of event. Do not miss to watch the delicate Franklinian Altamaha tree and America’s oldest ginkgo tree.
11. Longwood Gardens
Spread over 1,077 acres, Longwood Gardens is a series of botanical gardens, meadows, and woodlands within the Brandywine Creek Valley. It is one of the prominent horticultural gardens in the entire United States and is home to over 10,000 plant varieties. Here you can find plants from every single continent in the world Bonsai, Penjing, bulbous, cormous, and tuberous from Asia, Victoria from Europe, along with a lot of locally grown varieties. The Du Pont Legacy Collection here includes plants that were grown in the early 1900s but are thriving till date. Being within proximity with the Kenneth square, the garden is one of the prominent tourist destinations of the region and hosts lakhs of visitors and gardening enthusiasts all throughout the year. Some of the seasonal attractions of the garden include Orchid Extravaganza (January), Spring Blooms (April), Autumn’s Colors (September), Festival of Fountains (June), Garden Railway (October), and a Longwood Christmas (November end).
12. Hershey Gardens
Hershey Gardens is a 1937 garden, a combination of botanical garden and arboretum. It is set atop a hill overlooking Hershey Park and is basically a gift to Catherine from her husband, Milton S. Hershey, a well-known chocolate magnate. The garden comprises over 23 acres of land featuring an alluring assortment of a stately collection of rare, signature trees, flowers, shrubs, and few exotic herbs. Their colorful seasonal display is indeed one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing things to watch, and if heaven has a view, it definitely has to be the one you can capture in the Hershey Gardens. Another prominent feature here is the tropical Butterfly Atrium that is home to hundreds of big and colorful butterflies. There’s also a whimsical Children’s Garden and several other themed gardens to explore.