Fall in Love with the Allegheny National Forest Region

Share Article

The trees of the Allegheny National Forest, in northwestern Pennsylvania, transform beyond the quiet green palettes of summer foliage into a vivid autumn palette of deep crimson, brilliant orange and golden yellows in late September and early October.

Rimrock Overlook during autumn in the Allegheny National Forest

A fall hike in the Allegheny National Forest region is a singular experience. Feel the crunch of leaves underfoot, hear the rustle of leaves overhead and feel the tickle of the autumn breeze.

As days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler the trees within the Allegheny National Forest have one last fling before settling down into winter’s sleep; when the quiet green palette of summer foliage transforms into the vivid autumn palette of crimson, orange and golden yellow. As one of only three regions in the world which supports trees which shed annually and display the brilliant colors of autumn, the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), of northwestern Pennsylvania, has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation – or anywhere in the world, according to the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Covering over 513,000 acres, the ANF is a prime destination for those seeking the splendid views and variance of fall colors. The Kinzua Sky Walk at the Kinzua Bridge State Park, the Longhouse National Scenic Byway and the section of Pa. Route 6 from Kane to Port Allegany offers amazing fall colors and scenic vistas. Prime color is usually the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.

“There are over 80 species of trees on the ANF,” explains Joshua Hanson, District Silviculturist, Allegheny National Forest – Bradford Ranger Station, “The upland hardwood type includes red maple, black cherry, black birch, yellow poplar, white ash, basswood and cucumber tree. The Allegheny hardwood type includes a similar mix of species – e.g. Northern red oak, white oak, chestnut oak and black oak. The northern hardwoods include sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch and hemlock.”

According to Josh, “Maples reach peak color earlier in the season and are more vibrant than oaks. Folks can expect to see more color, and earlier color as they travel away from the Allegheny Reservoir and the major river corridors.”

The Allegheny National Forest region offers tree-lined, two-lane highways, where one car in front of you is considered heavy traffic. One such picturesque drive is the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, considered Pennsylvania’s most scenic drive by USA Today. It circles the Kinzua Creek arm of the Allegheny Reservoir through some of the most beautiful scenery on the ANF. It is a 36 mile loop from Kane.

To travel this byway, take Route 6 east from the idyllic village of Kane to the entrance of Route 321 north. (The actual start of the scenic byway is about eight miles from Kane.) As you cruise along Route 321 north you will pass canopies of autumn reds and brilliant golds on either side of the road to the Red Bridge Recreation area. Park your vehicle here and stretch your legs as you stroll down to the edge of the Reservoir for great views of the autumn palette reflected on the waters of the Allegheny Reservoir.

Back on the byway, continue to travel north and the roadway will begin to rise into the highlands through a beautiful forest of hardwoods and hemlock, showcasing canopies of colorful fall foliage. You will pass the trailhead for the North Country Trail, the longest foot trail in America, on your left before coming upon the Bradford Ranger Station at the intersection of Route 321 and Route 59 – turn left on Route 59 and head back toward the Allegheny Reservoir.

Drive along Route 59 to Rimrock Overlook. Rimrock is a magnificent rock outcrop and overlook above the Allegheny Reservoir offering stunning vistas of the fall foliage display. This area also offers picnic areas and hiking trails.

Another vantage point of brilliant autumn color reflecting off the water is located at Kinzua Point; which presents visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime fall foliage photo opportunity. Turn south here to travel to Jakes Rocks for more amazing views of the colorful foliage display, then south to Kane, Pa.

Stop and savor the crisp, cool fall air while sampling wines and other local favorites from Flickerwood Wine Cellars, CJ Spirits Craft Distillery, Logyard Brewing and Twisted Vine Beverage Company. Texas Hot Lunch and Bell’s Meat & Poultry are great stops for foodies.

After a relaxing evening in Kane, hop back on scenic Route 6 and travel east, you will pass the historic Nebo Chapel before entering Mt. Jewett. From Route 6 in Mt. Jewett, take a four mile journey on the Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway to the Kinzua Sky Walk, “ one of the world’s top 10 most beautiful skywalks and viewpoints in the world” located at the Kinzua Bridge State Park.

Advertised in the late 1800s as the eighth wonder of the world at 2,054 feet long and 301 feet high, the Kinzua Viaduct was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003. In 2011, this engineering masterpiece was reinvented as a 225 foot tall skywalk. The park’s elevation is 2,136 feet above sea level. Due to the high elevation the foliage in this area will change early in the season.

Step out onto the Kinzua Sky Walk and take-in the astonishing 360 degree view of stunning autumn colors – “walk the tracks across the sky” until you reach the overlook where a partial glass floor showcases the Kinzua Gorge and fallen towers beneath.

The Kinzua Bridge State Park, Kinzua Sky Walk, and Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center are located at 296 Viaduct Road in Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. Admission is free. For more information, VisitANF.com/kinzua-sky-walk-kinzua-bridge-state-park/.

The Kinzua Bridge State Park is also host to two distinctive hikes. One over and into the Kinzua Gorge, the Kinzua Creek Trail and the second, a crushed limestone trail heading from the Kinzua Bridge State Park toward Mt. Jewett, the Knox & Kane Trail.

The Kinzua Creek Trail is a 0.4 mile trail down the side of the gorge. The trail switchbacks along the side of the gorge, at the bottom, you can view the skywalk from below and have a close-up view of the huge fallen towers still laying where the tornado winds had scattered them.

The Knox & Kane Trail is a 3.8 mile linear trail through thick forest canopies bursting with autumn colors. Hike or bike this handicap accessible and family-friendly trail to capture some magical fall moments on camera.

Take a hike. A fall hike in the Allegheny National Forest region is a singular experience. Feel the crunch of leaves underfoot, hear the rustle of leaves overhead and feel the tickle of the autumn breeze. Experience it for yourself this fall on another trail in the Allegheny National Forest region, the Kinzua Valley Trail, a 7 mile hiking and biking trail perfect for viewing autumn golds, brilliant reds, deep oranges and rich yellows bursting from canopies. The trail, for a time, winds along the banks of the picturesque Kinzua Creek.

The Marilla Bridges Trail, a one mile loop trail, offers views of brilliant fall foliage and their reflection in the waters of the Marilla Reservoir. Highlights include the wooden Erik Benjamin Covered Bridge which spans the spillway of the Marilla Reservoir, three rustic wooden trestle bridges which cross mountain streams and a delightful gazebo, perfect for picnicking, located at the southwest corner of the trail. This trail is picture-perfect for fall photos. The trail head is located along Route 346, five miles west of the City of Bradford.

A fun way to explore this area during autumn is at the Tuna Valley Trail Association’s premier Fall event – the 2019 Annual Marilla Trail Race on Saturday, October 12 at the Marilla Reservoir on West Washington Street.

The Marilla Trail Race features 7 and 14 mile distance courses, as well as, a 3.7 mile non-competitive hike on rugged terrain. The 14 mile race will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by the 7 mile course at 10:00 a.m. then the 3.7 mile hike will begin at 10:10 a.m.

Clearly marked trails, nestled among the rolling hills and dense forest lands of the Allegheny National Forest region, will take runners over a variety of terrain, including gravel pathways and dirt trails. Except for a single road crossing, the distance courses are 100% off-road. While the courses are non-technical, runners should prepare for intense elevation changes on a rolling and winding single track, with aid stations spread throughout. The race offers opportunity for beginners, hard-core trail runners and everyone in between.

The Marilla Trail Race features state-of-the-art chip timing by ScoreThis!!! – ScoreThis!!!, Inc., specializes in producing, managing and timing running and multisport events. Their timing and scoring system have been used by major marathons across the world and utilizes three different types of timing solutions.

The historic Erik Benjamin covered bridge, at the Marilla Reservoir, serves as the finishing point for both distance courses. After the race, stick around for a delicious BBQ chicken lunch, awards and door prizes.

All proceeds raised for the Marilla Trail Race are to benefit the Tuna Valley Trail Association (TVTA) and their ongoing commitment to the development and maintenance of trails locally and throughout the Tuna Valley. Formed in 1998, the goal of the TVTA is to develop multi-use trails throughout the scenic Tuna Valley and nearby, and to provide accessible recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. For more information about the Tuna Valley Trail Association, visit http://www.tunavalleytrail.com or email info@tunavalleytrail.com.

For more information about the Marilla Trail Race and to download course maps, visit http://www.irunmarilla.com, http://www.marillatrailrace.com or email hello@marillatrailrace.com. To register for the event, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/Bradford/MarillaTrailRace.

For more information about the fall season of outdoor recreation or to order a free fall scenic drive brochure call (800) 473-9370 or download the fall driving tours at VisitANF.com.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Linda Devlin

Daniella Griesbaum
Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau
Like >
Visit website