A Weekend Jaunt into the Allegheny National Forest: 9/15


Senior Staff
Founding Member
As summer was fading into fall the misses and I headed north by west towards the upper reaches of the Allegheny National Forest, one of the largest tracts of forests in the Keystone State. Off we went into the Big Green that is the backwoods of Pennsylvania, our trusty FJ happily towing our BaseCamper trailer in its wake. Cruising the secondary backroads that traverse the rural landscape of our stretch of PA we soon found ourselves up along the Kinzua Reservoir…


…where we turned onto the dirt and gravel of the local forest roads. The roads wound amongst the woods the trees obscuring any view other than that of themselves. Miles back from the tarmac we found a campsite too our liking and set up camp for the weekend.


The National Forest, boasting numerous forest roads, offers an abundance of campsites throughout its expanse. The basic rule, if there is an established fire ring and pull off your good to camp. No permits necessary, thank you very much, unless you’re doing the group thing. And while there’s plenty of dirt to travel, alas, there are no drive-able trails to flex your suspension on. The draw here is all about exploring on hoof, your adventure rig is just a mule to get you to the trail head.

Camp set, we clambered back into the FJ and headed back on the two-tracks that lead us here. Our first destination was a historic site that while we had driven past many times, we never seemed to take the time to investigate. Driving under the sun lit canopy of the ever present trees we soon found ourselves at the Kinzua Viaduct, which at one time was the tallest iron railroad bridge in the region. Originally built roundabouts 1882 out of iron it was rebuilt with steel components just after the turn of the century


But alas a tornado struck the bridge in 2003, and the aged anchoring bolts in the bridge’s foundations failed causing a large portion of the bridge to collapse leaving behind twisted wreckage. The Bridge is located in McKean County near Mount Jewett and can be found at the aptly named Kinzua Bridge State Park. Damn those bureaucrats are an imitative lot. The remains of the bridge were made into a skywalk for tourist to walk out onto its heights and check out what remains. And while the bridge itself was amazing there is something compelling about the wreckage…



A trail leads down the ravine and the more adventurist can make their way down into the carnage. But be forewarned the trail is steep and covered in loose gravel and shale. Flipflops are a bad idea on this jaunt. Crawling amongst the girders and trestles one can come to appreciate the power Mother Nature can yield when she’s feeling a bit destructive.



Curiosity satisfied we scrambled back up the goat path we had taken to get down here, returning to the waiting FJ. While we’re avid outdoors people, on hot summer days one can truly appreciate a well-functioning air conditioning system. Hitting the forest roads again we went looking for a hike and with the myriad of trail systems to choose from we settled on a section of the North Country Trail. The Toyota was left behind as we crossed over a trout stream and into the woods…


The trail started out well, its path following along the stream and then turning into a glade of hemlocks. But after a couple miles it entered an old clear cut section and the new growth closed in and obscured any view other than blackberry rambles and devil’s club. Well that’s no good so we turned ourselves around and headed back whence we came.

A few more stops to check out anything that draws our interest and then we were back at camp. Dinner was prepared, mmmm…taco salad…


A fire was started and chairs were broke out as day turned to dusk…


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The Milky Way was bright this night and as the darkness grew so did the chorus of coyote howls. Slipping up into our Maggiolina for the nights repast the coyotes continued to sing us to sleep. It was a good night. And while it was good to catch some sleep we were already anticipating the rising of the morning sun...


Founding Member
As if my desire to head back to Allegheny NF wasn't already off the charts. Making me want to go back even more now.


Senior Staff
Founding Member
Thanks all! The story continues...

Sunlight filtered through the trees as morning arrived. Awake and aware of the grumbles in my belly we got right to the important stuff. The blueberry/rhubarb pie that was hiding in the pie chest. Once that was taking care of we headed out back into the ANF. Today was another hiking day and our target today was the Tracy Ridge Hiking System.


With my pack loaded up with supplies we headed into the Big Green…




Along the trail we found some edibles, Chicken of the Woods in this case. These went into the pack and were fried up in garlic and butter once back at BaseCamp.


We also an across this little guy sneaking through the leaf litter…


We didn’t eat him…just want to make that clear. Sometimes my reputation proceeds me.

After a good 15 miler, we headed back to camp and spent the afternoon just lazing around. I decided that the Maggie needed a short duration sleep test so up I went to take a nap. Dinner was cooked, this night it was venison loin and French fingerling tatters, with those Chickens being an added treat. Near to where we were camping are the Jake’s Rock formations. We decide this would be a good spot for a sunset hike. Off we went…




As the rocks face towards the west we hung out on an exposed rock face and watched the sun go down behind the Alleghenies.


The rays of the sun gave us a customized couples painting on the rocks...


With darkness descending we returned to the campsite and spent the evening throwing sticks in the fire.

Morning found us ready to re-enter real life. Despite all the gear, camp breakdown was quick...


The Basecamp trailer set-up makes for a way more organized campsite than our set-ups of old. We can set-up and tear down all this stuff in under 30 mins. Loaded up we turned our silver steed back towards the Clanhold and left the forest behind. Of course we drove back into the forest we live in so it was all a matter of creature comfort. Thanks for tagging along!


Founding Member
Thanks for the report and photos. Your trip has me looking over newly purchased maps of the ANF searching for places to visit next spring. That bridge is on our list.

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