The Great Outdoors: Allegheny National Forest Truly Has it All

allegheny-river-kinzua-dam-outflow-1024x576MARIENVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — The Allegheny National Forest is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts that offers just about anything they would want to do.

One of my very first camping adventures came at the ripe old age of three.  We camped at a private campground, and my recollections are only because of the old photos in a scrapbook.

Over the years, I’ve hunted white-tailed deer, turkeys, and snowshoe rabbits in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) and floated the Wild and Scenic Clarion and Allegheny rivers while camping along their banks.

One of the unique ANF features is the Allegheny Islands Wilderness which contains seven islands stretched between Buckaloons and Tionesta along the Allegheny.

The islands are popular for dispersed camping, exploration, and viewing scenery and wildlife. They are mostly vegetated with fine riverine forests of sycamore, silver maple, shagbark hickory, and green ash. Dense grasses and other thick vegetation make access limited. There are no developed trails or other facilities on the islands.

Wildlife abounds in the forest with bald eagles, river otters, black bears, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer, to name a few species.

Family-oriented outdoor recreation includes swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, picnicking, and camping.

Fishing is good on the ANF’s waterways. Trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, and other species can be found in the area.

Additionally, the national forest, Pennsylvania’s only one, is very accommodating to trail lovers. There are hundreds of miles of trails designated for hiking, biking, equestrian, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

The snowmobiler has more than 300 miles of groomed and non-groomed snowmobile trails in interconnected loops from which to choose.

The ANF also offers an extensive system of interconnected trails for ATV riders. For more information on ATV riding in the ANF, head to VisitPAGO.com

The main trailhead is located off Route 66, approximately 10.5 miles north of Marienville. The trail is divided into a bike trail area and an ATV trail area. The ATV trail is open to Class I and Class II ATVs, motorcycles, horses, and mountain bikes. All ATV trails are marked with yellow diamonds. Motorcycles, Class I ATV’s, horses, and mountain bikes are allowed on the motorcycle trail.

Consult the trailhead bulletin boards for more information and additional trails that may be open or closed. This system offers many miles of muddy trail. Riders are encouraged to ride through mud holes to keep the trail narrow and to reduce maintenance needs. For those who don’t like riding through mud holes, try the Timberline ATV Trail, which uses more roads and graveled surfaces and has less mud.

Along with the rich variety of outdoor recreation, several camping opportunities are available including 600 campsites, equestrian, RV, backpacking, cabin rentals, and campgrounds.

Some campsites offer electric and water and are suitable for the grandest of RVs while others are bare bones affairs with nothing but a fire ring.

For more information on recreation, sightseeing, campsites, or eateries, go to VisitPAGO.com or www.fs.usda.gov/allegheny.

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