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Forest County Pennsylvania Hiking Trails

North Country National Scenic Trail

Allegheny National Forest

Length:  86.4 miles

Walk among rocks and waterfalls, Allegheny Hardwoods, stands of Mountain Laurel. Explore the 86.4 miles of North Country National Scenic Trail that meander through the historic lands of the Iroquois, the Allegheny Plateau, the home of the most valuable Black Cherry and Oak in the world, landscapes rich in history, wildlife, and natural beauty.

A unique national resource, the NCNST is part of a 3,200-mile National Scenic Trail to extend from Crown Point, NY, to Lake Sakakawea, ND. Once completed, it will be the longest continuous foot path in the US.

Main routes into the Forest include SR 66 and 36 from the SW; SR 153, 219 and 948 from the SE; US 6 and 62 from the NW; SR 59 and 219 from the NE; and US 6 (east/west).

This trail is marked with blue diamonds.

Forest trails policy prohibits the use of a saddle, pack or draft animals on hiking or cross county ski trails. You may camp on National Forest land, however camping is not permitted on the shores and within 1500 feet of the timberline around the Allegheny Reservoir, except in areas designated for such use. In addition, no camping will be allowed within Jakes Rocks and Rimrock or within 1500 feet of either side of the center line of Allegheny Reservoir Scenic Drive (includes Longhouse National Scenic Drive and portions of SRs 59, 346 and 321). Camping is not permitted within 1500 feet of either side of the main channel of Kinzua Creek from Red Bridge upstream to Mead Run.

Hiking the trail: (Southern Boundary of ANF to Kelletville = 15.6 miles; elevation change - 630 feet; Quadrangles: Marienville West, Mayburg, Kelletville.)

To access the NCNST, travel SW from Marienville on SR 66; at Roses, go west on Muzette Road for 2 miles. The NCNST crosses the road here. Food, gas, lodging, and a medical center are available in Marienville.

At Salmon Creek, parking and a wooden shelter are on FR 145. Fish Salmon and Little Salmon Creeks. You may see oil jacks. Caution: oil jacks are on automatic timers and may become operational at any time. At Little Salmon Creek, enjoy the scenic rock outcrop and overlook, and beautiful views of Salmon Creek valley. Fourmile Run, a Wilderness Trout Stream, offers fishing in a pristine environment. As you climb out of Fourmile Run, rock outcrops, blowdown from the 1985 tornado, and another spectacular set of rock outcrops and ledges will attract your attention from FR 399 to FR 127.

After traveling west on FR 127 for about 1000 feet, you enter private ownership. Respect landowners' rights and privacy - stay on the trail (road). A camping area along Tionesta Creek is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Food, gas, and lodging are a few miles from Kelletville.

(Kelletville to Dunham Siding = 11.5 miles; elevation change - 660 feet; Quadrangles: Kelletville, Cobham, Cherry Grove.)

You will find a beautiful spring at East Fork. Another spring and a stand of old white pine along Beaver Run offer a resting place. The ghost town of Braceville has a level, grassy area, with oaks and large white pines, suitable for camping (south of Coalbed Run about 1/2 mile).

An old railroad (RR) grade, formerly a part of the Tionesta Valley RR leads to the junction of the Tanbark Trail. The grade was used by Rogers Lumber Company of Rogertown to ship lumber to Warren and Sheffield. A mineral spring with a strong, hard-water taste is a favorite deer lick here.

(Dunham Siding to Minister Creek = 5.0 miles; Elevation Change - 440 feet; Quadrangle: Cherry Grove)

The Hearts Content Recreation Area (campsites, water, restrooms) or Hickory Creek Wilderness can be reached by taking the Tanbark Trail west past FR 119, the southern wilderness boundary.

From FR 116 to FR 419, the NCNST is skiable. Beyond FR 419 on to West Branch of Minister Creek, you'll pass through a fenced, gated area. The fence protects regenerating trees from deer. A RR grade leads to Triple Forks Camp and Minister Creek Trail; about 3 miles south is the Minister Creek Campground on SR 666 (rustic campsites, water, restrooms).

After you move through the tornado swath, note the large boulders.

(Minister Creek to Tionesta Scenic Area = 15.3 miles; elevation change - 430 feet; Quadrangles: Cherry Grove, Sheffield, Ludlow.)

After crossing Vandergriff Road and Fool's Creek, a bronze plaque on a rock (west of FR 255) commemorates the Allegheny Outdoor Club. East of Lower Sheriff Run, notice the large sandstone and conglomerate rocks, and another fenced clearcut. Parking for 3-4 cars is at FR 179. As you near the overnight shelter near Upper Sheriff Creek, note again a RR grade of the past.

At Messenger Run, notice the old roads, pipe, tanks, and powerhouse, relics from an earlier time. Watch for the old logging locomotive! The RR grade is again part of the trail at this point. Parking is available on SR 666.

Between FR 413 and 103 notice the old hemlocks as you approach SR 948. Parking is not safe on SR 948 due to dangerous shoulders. Food, gas and medical facilities are available in Sheffield (5.5 miles N). Cross the South Branch of Tionesta Creek via the FR 148 bridge. Parking and dispersed camping are available on FR 148 near the Creek. Fishing is excellent.

The next area of big rocks are at the Tionesta Scenic Area. Big timber, much of it 300-400 years old, is yours to enjoy. At the junction with Twin Lakes Trail, remember that the NCNST is signed in blue, while other forest hiking trails and signed off-white. The best view of the 1985 Tornado Swath is at the northern end of the pipeline (built in 1910). Note the stump of a 36" Superior Cherry Tree (100 feet tall) felled by the tornado. You will intercept the Tionesta Scenic Area Interpretive Trail (off-white blazes). For an outstanding view of the 1985 Tornado swath, take the short loop road to the viewing platform. The loop returns to the NCNST exit.

(Tionesta Scenic Area to SR 321 = 10.7 miles; elevation change - 400 feet; Quadrangles: Ludlow, Kane.)

The trail along East Branch of Tionesta Creek up to FR 133 is beautiful, with hemlocks and small waterfalls. There is excellent fishing.

At the junction with Wetmore Road, food is available 1.5 miles east. On the trail, note a red pine plantation just west of the Allegheny RR tracks. At the junction with US 6, Kane is 7 miles east (full service community). As you climb to Gibbs Hill, enjoy the vistas on both sides, created with special funds from area timber sales. At the junction of Gibbs Hill Rd (TR 308), go east to SR 321 for food and lodging then north to Blissville. If you stay on the trail, you will see another plaque just before Red Bridge.

(SR 321 to New York = 28.7 miles; elevation change - 650 feet; Quadrangles: Cornplanter Bridge, Westline, Stickney, Cornplanter Run.)

At Kinzua Arm, parking is available at Longhouse Trailhead. Red Bridge Recreation Area is 1000 feet north on SR 321 (campsites, restrooms, hot showers in summer). After climbing an extremely steep side hill, drop down to a wildlife opening near Root Run. Shrubs for turkeys and apple trees for deer have been planted. After FR 142, see a prime example of Allegheny Hardwoods.

At Chappel Fork, note the large Black Cherry trees. Parking is available on SR 321 for 12 cars. Junction of Chappel Bay and Hemlock Run - these dead trees provide valuable habitat for wildlife species that require snags and insect-riddled trees for cover and food.

As you climb out of Hemlock Run, find level campsites, low-bush blueberries (August) and springs. After crossing FR 265, you meet SR 59 and an area of dense Mountain Laurel (blooms in mid-June). Parking is available off FR 265. After crossing FR 630, you will find a good campsite in Hammond Run. Spectacular scenery down the run; expect wet feet where Hammond Run intersects with Sugar Run. Note the large maples.

Note the large field of goldenrod near SR 321 bridge (July-September). Parking for 6 cars is available here. A plaque near the mouth of Nelse Run commemorates the Allegheny Outdoor Club. Some say this is the most scenic part of the trail. Watch for Maidenhair Fern.

Handsome Lake Campground offers campsites, restrooms, and water. Access is via a marked side trail; the NCNST does not go to Handsome Lake Campground. Via the Johnnycake or Tracy Ridge Trails you can go to the Tracy Ridge Recreation Area (campsites, restrooms, water).

After passing through some beautiful hardwood stands, you reach SR 346; just west is Willow Bay Recreation Area (campsites (some with electric), restrooms, hot showers, water, boat launch, picnic area). parking for 8 cars(except in winter).

As you move north, the NCNST will connect with the Finger Lakes Trail in Allegany State Park, New York State.

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