FOREST CO., Pa. — As its name suggests, thick woods cover the beautiful, wild, and rugged landscape of Forest County.
Nearly half of the county’s acreage lies within the vast Allegheny National Forest (ANF), and with so much unspoiled nature, the area offers exceptional outdoor recreation, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking, and hunting, as well as some of the darkest skies on the East Coast.
The village of Marienville has become known as the Snowmobile Capital of Pennsylvania, and for good reason: You can access more than 360 miles of ANF’s snowmobile trails from here. Additionally, the town hosts a Big Foot Festival during summer and a Winter Festival with an inspiring snowmobile torchlight parade. Marienville’s highly anticipated Oktoberfest encompasses the whole town each fall.
The town has become a trail hub for all kinds of visitors to the ANF, and ATV/UTV riders, mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, fishermen, hunters, and campers will enjoy the town’s amenities and opportunities to explore the area’s natural beauty. Soon, the developing Knox-Kane Trail will provide additional recreational opportunities right in town.
Each May and October, more than 1,500 ATV riders come for the Tour-de-Forest ride on designated ANF roads and trails generally closed to ATV traffic. Wildlife watchers and nature lovers flock to the area throughout the year, for spectacular bird watching at Buzzard Swamp, where bald eagles, osprey, and many waterfowl fly and nest.
Tionesta, another ANF gateway town, sits on the banks of the Allegheny River where outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, swimming, and power boating, as well as hiking and horseback riding. To really escape into nature, camp on one of the uninhabited islands in the river or at a site on the shore of Tionesta Lake, and make sure to take your camera along to capture shots of eagles and river otters by the water.
Immediately adjacent to town, Lighthouse Island features the intriguing Sherman Memorial Lighthouse, a 50-foot timber-framed structure that opens for self-guided tours several times a year and offers spectacular views of the town and its surroundings. Lighthouse Island has a newly constructed Peace Park that features a Freedom Cross, Veterans Memorial, Statue of Liberty, chapel, replica timber crib dam, and other attractions.
In late June and early July, the curious natural phenomena of synchronous fireflies make their appearance across Forest County, and each evening for a few weeks, you can witness a rare show, as these insects blink in unison in a collective search for mates. Each July cowboys and cowgirls from all over the eastern U.S. compete in the three-night outdoor Allegheny Mountain Championship Rodeo at the Flying W Ranch in Kellettville, and in August, Tionesta hosts its annual Indian Festival.
The Tionesta Market Village offer a unique shopping experience in Victorian style setting and live entertainment on weekends.
The Clarion River there is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and offers great opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, wildlife viewing, and fishing.
Find more fun things to do, see, and experience in Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com.