For those fortunate to spend time in the Great Outdoors Region of Pennsylvania, there are many places we get to enjoy, but I can’t think of any better than the Clarion River and Cook Forest.
(Article by Scott Shindledecker. Photo courtesy Mountain Man Photography.)
My family and I have enjoyed the region thoroughly for more than 40 years.
As a youth, Mom and Dad would take my brother and I there for riverside cookouts, canoe trips and fishing.
My first black bear sighting occurred on Route 36!
There have been many firsts for me in the region. First catch of a strong-fighting smallmouth bass, first river otter sighting, first canoe ride – check, check and check.
I can go on and on when it comes to some of my favorite Clarion outings, including a post prom outing in my senior year of high school to a warm summer day spent tubing with a good friend and his kids. And how can I forget watching our national bird – the bald eagle – catching fish in the river and eating them from a perch in an old oak tree along the river banks?
Piney Dam is another great spot in the region. The memories there are also numerous. I’ll never forget a day bass fishing there with my good friend, John, when we found a group of hungry smallmouth bass that nearly jumped in our boat. Another outing featured a channel catfish providing a good fight after it took my tube bait and the sighting of a little green heron hunting and munching on minnows it caught in the shallow water at river’s edge.
Whether it’s the Memorial Day weekend or any time of the year, the region is magical for anyone from 1 to 100.
There’s no better time to enjoy the Clarion River, too, with it being named Pennsylvania’s River of the Year. The Clarion was a runaway winner in the voting.
Several events are scheduled for the River of the Year celebration including Clarion River Days in Clarion on June 8-9, Walk on the Wild Side at Clarion Little Toby Trail on June 8, and a 2-day overnight canoe sojourn on June 22-23.
What makes the region unique is that a visitor can find peace and tranquility as well as good times with friends and family over a campfire or on the water.
The region also features several amenities that include canoe and tube rentals, horseback riding, a deer park, a go-cart track, mini golf, nature center and plenty of camogrounds and cabin rentals.
Let’s not forget Cook Forest State Park’s Forest Cathedral, which features an old-growth white pine tree that measures 180 feet tall. It’s one of the biggest trees in the Eastern United States.
Clear Creek State Park provides good river access, too.
The 52 miles of the Clarion River and adjacent public lands along its shores provide abundant opportunities for camping, hunting, hiking, bicycling, wildlife watching, and picnicking. The scenery, the feeling of remoteness, accessibility and the variety of recreation activities possible and ease of canoeing of the Clarion River combine to provide a significant recreation experience.
The Clarion River has a longer floating season than other rivers in the area and has good access to the public.
I hope you enjoy your adventures as much as I have!
Here are some good links to get your Clarion River/Cook Forest adventure started: