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Acampando en Cook Forest, Pennsylvania

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Cook Forest State Park contains over 6,000 acres, spans three counties and offers year-round outdoor activities. The park has 27 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and ATV and snowmobile use. Hunting, fishing and trapping are allowed in the park. Visitors who want to camp in Cook Forest have several options within the park itself or they can choose one of five private campgrounds in the immediate area.

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History

When European-Americans reached this part of Pennsylvania it was inhabited by the Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. They used this area as a hunting grounds; the land of Cook Forest was then purchased by the English. Seneca Rock is still named after the first inhabitants, and the Paramount Pictures’ film «Unconquered» was shot here in 1946 by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard.

John Cook was the first permanent American settler. He arrived in 1826 to determine the feasibility of building an east-to-west canal along the Clarion River for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. John purchased 765 acres (310 ha) and settled here with his wife and 10 children in 1828.

At the mouth of Tom’s Run, now adjacent to the park office, John built his one-story cabin and the first of many water-driven sawmills. He worked his mills, logged with oxen, rafted logs to Pittsburgh and also engaged in flatboat building through the years.

John’s son Andrew bought 36 acres (15 ha) from his father, then gained the rest of his land when his father died in 1858. Andrew’s industry expanded, and he built the original Cook Forest Inn for his woodsmen’s living quarters. Andrew erected three sawmills, one flouring mill, one planing mill, a boat scaffold, several dwellings and a store. Andrew also served as a judge and local bank president. About 1870, he built the Cook Homestead (now a bed and breakfast)at the intersection of Route 36 and River Road. Cook family descendants still inhabit many of the homes along River Road. After Andrew’s death, the business was managed under A. Cook Sons Company.

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Reservations

Ridge Camp accepts reservations. All reservations must be paid in full two weeks after you make them; reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance. Camping fees vary, but the lowest rates are offered during the week and for groups camping for a week. Senior citizens and disabled campers receive discounted fees.

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Rules

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, campers are limited to 14 days of camping in the forest. After Labor Day, campers may stay up to 21 days. Each camping group must have one member who is at least 18 years old. Campers may have visitors until 10 p.m., but quiet hours begin at 9 p.m. and continue until 8 a.m. Alcoholic drinks and campfires are forbidden in the campground and all pets must be on a leash.

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Ecology

The park is in the Allegheny Highlands forests ecoregion. It is famous for its spectacular stands of old-growth Eastern White Pine and Eastern Hemlock, with more white pine over 150 feet (46 m) in its Forest Cathedral than in any other site in the northeastern United States. Many of these ancient trees began growing after a drought and fire in 1644. In total, there are some 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) to 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of old-growth forests or old forests with old-growth characteristics in several stands throughout the park. In addition to white pine and hemlock, old-growth Northern Red Oak, White Oak, Black Cherry, Red Maple, Sugar Maple, American Beech, White Ash, Yellow Birch, Black Birch, Cucumber Magnolia also grow throughout the park.

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Park Accommodations

Cook Forest’s campground, Ridge Camp (cookforest.com), has 226 sites for either tent or trailer camping. The campground has a dump station, but the does not offer hookups. The campground is open year-round, but the washhouses, which contain showers and hot and cold running water, are only open from the end of May to early October. Cook Forest rents 24 cabins in two sections of the park. River Cabins have four rooms and can sleep up to eight people, while Indian Cabins have one room and can sleep four. Cabins are available from April to late December, or the end of antlerless deer season. All cabins come with beds and mattresses, a table and chairs, and a refrigerator and a gas stove, and the River Cabins have fireplaces. Guests must provide their own linens, cookware and serving ware. Two campsites are also available for organized group camping.

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Other Campgrounds

Forest Ridge Cabins and Campground (forestridgecabins.com) is approximately 14 miles from Cook Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania and has primitive tent sites, five cabins and RV sites with full hook-ups. At the Woods Cabin and Campground (atthewoodscabin.com) offers 24 primitive tent sites and one cabin and is approximately 8 miles from the forest in Sigel, Pennsylvania. Campers Paradise (campersparadise.com) is 10 miles away and has cabin rentals, RV and tent sites. The campground is open year-round and has restrooms with flush toilets, hot showers and full RV hookups.

Deer Meadow (deermeadow.com) sits on 65 acres adjacent to Cook Forest. The campground has RV sites with full hookups and a wide range of amenities including a grocery store, free cable television, bath houses and mini-golf. Kalyumet Campground (kalyumet.com) is 6 miles from the park and has tent and RV sites and one log cabin. The campground’s amenities include a heated outdoor pool, a convenience store and free Wi-Fi. White’s Haven Campground (whiteshavencampground.com) has RV and primitive sites and cabins. Amenities include a laundry facility, a convenience store and a fishing pond.

References

Resources

Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Photo Credits

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Education

Programs for all ages are offered March to December. Through hands-on activities, guided walks and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.

Curriculum-based environmental education programs are available to schools and youth groups. Teacher workshops are available. Group programs must be scheduled in advance by calling the park office.

A weekly interpretive schedule is available at the park office. The park has an environmental learning center in the Log Cabin Inn at the Main Picnic Area. The Historical Room displays logging and rafting tools, models and artifacts.

The fire tower is always open for climbing during daylight hours, and the booth at its top is occasionally opened by a ranger for exhibition; check at the park office for a schedule.

Red-eyed-vireo-cook-forest-pa

A local, non-profit craft organization housed in the historic sawmill offers traditional crafts on display, a gift shop and classes. Demonstrations and classes on various crafts are presented throughout the summer and fall seasons for children and adults. The Verna Leith Sawmill Theater seats 180 people and presents plays, musicals and other entertainment throughout the summer season.

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trail running

The 8,500-acre Cook Forest State Park lies in scenic northwestern Pennsylvania. Once called the Black Forest, the area is famous for its stands of old growth forest. Cook Forests Forest Cathedral of towering white pines and hemlocks is a National Natural Landmark. The Clarion River connects Clear Creek State Park to Cook Forest State Park along a scenic 10-mile stretch of river which is popular for canoeing and rafting.

hiking

bridge out

muddy

15 days ago

Beautiful trail well maintained and marked well with posts. The maps are good and well worth reading. Easy to manage with some fallen trees but nothing to stop the trek. A moderate trail and appropriate for those with basic regular health.

only went 2 miles but loved it!! hope to do more soon:)

Trail head is across the street from the ranger’s station across the busy street at the base of the bridge. It can be muddy at the beginning. The view is worth seeing! You can climb to the top of the fire tower which is very close to the scenic point.

trail running

3 months ago

Longfellow is good for a more advanced runner. If you’re a newbie trail runner like me, stick to Tom’s Run as it’s flatter. If you want a good combo of hiking and running (which is what I ended up doing), the whole thing is pretty good. It’s also lovely to do in the cold and wet springtime.

hiking

muddy

rocky

3 months ago

Great short hike with huge old growth hemlock and white pine. Peaceful walk along Toms Run!

slug, chipmunk, woodpecker, junko, vultures

Red efts, millipedes, toads, frog eggs, stink bug, lots of birds, fungi, plants and protists.

Liggett Trail Super nice trail, well kept and very scenic. Very easy trail, good for beginners or for anyone looking for a nice walk. Some muddy patches and potentially buggy, we went in early April so the bugs were nonexistent. Would recommend to anyone looking for a calm way to spend an hour or two.

Close by parking, trail was easy to find and well labeled. Great views by the river 🙂

Beautiful hike, we did hit a fork in the road where we thought it would loop around to, but it never did. We will have to go back some day and take the left fork. Trail does kind of empty out on to the road at the end, follow it down hill about 100 feet to hop back into the trail then take a sharp left to get back to the trail head.

Good trail for beginners and children. lots of little spur trails to get tour heart rate up and legs some exercise. I will do it again soon

A quick, family-friendly hike. Easily to follow and the views are great.

Overall great hike!! We took the Seneca trail all the way up and around and back down. Strenuous on the uphill but beautiful!

Absolutely beautiful! It is hilly on the way up and downhill on the way down. A very beautiful area. Glad we chose this hike. Lots of little trails intersect with this trail making a big loop. Very well maintained. Nice areas to camp.

Hiked down to the river for a nice lunch view. Someone turned the trail sign and we missed the turn to complete the loop. Ended up continuing on Baker’s Trail until Gravel Lick Run. Ran into a couple who gave us a map. We decided to double back the way we came and glad we did. Turns out the last half mile or so of River Trail is on the dirt access road. Our 2.2 mike hike turned into 6 miles because the sign was turned. Spontaneous adventure.

hiking

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The forest cathedral area is gorgeous. It’s a bunch of tiny trails that intersect, some easier and some more up hill. We parked around pavilion number 1, and took Tom’s Run trail to the swinging bridge. We then met up with the rhododendron trail and followed that up to the Indian trial. We headed west on that trail until it met with Longfellow and took that south until it intersected with ancient forest. Ancient forest will again meet up with Longfellow and take you right back to the parking lots. Great hike!

hiking

Sunday, March 18, 2018

It was a nice short hike for me but I did get confused when I came off the trail onto a road with cabins…. turns out I needed to follow the road just a short ways down to get back on the trail.

hiking

Monday, February 26, 2018

Beautiful hike offering a variety of activity options! Clearly marked , well maintained trails.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Beautiful trail! Usually quiet and you will not run into many others on the trail. I’ve done this trail with young children and their grandfather. there are a few steep sections, but everyone enjoyed the hike

Great trail for all skill levels, love the swinging bridge!

hiking

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Extremely beautiful, just a little crowded

hiking

Monday, July 17, 2017

This trail was a nice little hike. The old growth pines were beautiful and strong and the trail itself was well maintained and marked. I did not care for the recent seats that were shabily cut into a few old fallen pines, to me it took a little away from the asthetics. For novice hiker I would rate this as an easy hike. For a beginner this is slightly moderate. Took about two hours with a dog leading the way and a baby on my wife and my back’s.

hiking

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Perfect hike for family my 4 year old got A little tired but made it all the way

Beautiful hike on Longfellow and Ancient Forest trails, though there were a couple very large trees down across the trails. Wish each trail had its own separate entry on here since we didn’t do Joyce or Rhododendron 🙂

hiking

Monday, February 06, 2017

Beautiful views, fairly easy hike and just a wonderful trail!

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