11 Camping Destinations In The Allegheny National Forest


If you are looking for a new place to camp and explore you might want to consider visiting the Allegheny National Forest. The Allegheny National Forest provides a beautiful setting for hours of recreational activities and relaxation.

So where are the 11 best camping destinations in the Allegheny National Forest?

  1. Dewdrop Campground
  2. Kiasutha Campground
  3. Red Bridge Campground
  4. Tracy Ridge Campground
  5. Willow Bay Campground
  6. Buckaloons Campground
  7. Hearts Content Campground
  8. Minister Creek Campground
  9. Loleta Campground
  10. Kelly Pines Campground
  11. Twin Lakes Campground

The Allegheny National Forest is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s one and only national forest and is located in the northwestern part of the state. The forest territory includes land in Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren counties and is comprised of nearly 517,000 scenic acres.

This gem located in the Keystone state offers ample recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts young and old to take advantage of. There is absolutely no reason to be bored when visiting the Allegheny National Forest we have been there multiple times and in this post I will delve into why you should add it to your list of camping destinations.

Campground camping in the Allegheny National Forest

First of all you need a base camp for exploring so you might be wondering what is available for camping. I am only going to address the campgrounds that you can van camp or park an RV at so I won’t be including locations that have just tenting.

Here are a few quick camping rules:

You may camp only 14 days in the Allegheny National Forest and quiet time for campers is from 10:00 PM to 6 AM. You are permitted to have eight people at a campsite.

When building a fire only build in designated fireplaces and only when fires are permitted. Bringing firewood from outside of the Allegheny National Forest is prohibited due to invasive species. Firewood is available at or near camping areas.

You must keep all pets on a leash at all times and they aren’t allowed on the beaches or in the water.

To help ensure you get a campsite when you want one make a reservation at recreation.govOpens in a new tab. however all campgrounds do not have online reservations.

Dewdrop Campground has 70+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway (FR 262) about four miles south of the intersection with SR 59 on the western shore of Kinzua Bay.

  • Some sites have electric and there are no sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fee $17.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee on waterfront $19.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Flush toilets, hot showers, drinking water, playground, dump station and a concrete boat launch.

Kiasutha Campground has 90+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway (FR 262), about 10 miles northwest of Kane.

  • Some sites have electric only and some sites have electric, water and sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fee with electric hookup $21.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee on waterfront $21.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee with electric, water and sewage hookup $25.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee without hookups $19.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Flush toilets, hot showers, drinking water, playground, beach swimming, bathhouse, dump station and a 2 lane boat launch.

Red Bridge Campground has 60+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located on the eastern shore of Kinzua Bay approximately nine miles northwest of Kane, along State Route 321.

  • Some sites have electric only and some sites have electric, water and sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fee with electric hookup $23.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee without hookups $18.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee $15.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Flush and vault toilets, hot showers, water fountains and dump station.

Tracy Ridge Campground has 70+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located three miles east of the Allegheny Reservoir on SR 321, north of the junction with SR 59 and south of the junction with SR 346.

  • There are no electric, water or sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fee is $12.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Vault toilets, hot showers, hand pumped water and dump station.

Willow Bay Campground has 100+ campsites and overlooks Willow Bay it is located 15 miles west of Bradford on State Route 346. The Aspen, Oak and Hemlock loops accommodate RVs, the Deer Grove loop doesn’t.

  • Some of the sites have electric.
  • Daily camping fee with electric hookup $23.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee without hookups $18.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Flush and vault toilets, hot showers, drinking water and dump station.

Buckaloons Campground has 60+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located just south of the intersection of U.S. Routes 6 and 62 about six miles from Warren.

  • Some sites have electric hookups.
  • Single site camping fee with electric hookup $23.00 per site
  • Single site camping fee without hookups $18.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Flush toilets, hot showers, drinking water, concrete boat launch and dump station.

Hearts Content Campground has 20+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located about 15 miles southwest of Warren. From U.S. Route 6, take Lenhart Road to Pleasant Drive then take Hearts Content Road.

  • There are no electric, water or sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fee $12.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Vault toilets, pressurized water, and playground.

Minister Creek Campground has 6 campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. It is located 14.7 miles southwest of Sheffield off of SR 666.

  • There are no electric, water or sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fee $12.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Vault toilets and hand pumped water.

Loleta Campground has 30+ campsites with fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. The campground is located about six miles south of Marienville.

  • Some sites have electric hookup.
  • Daily camping fee is $15.00 to $20.00 per site
  • Daily camping fee with electric is an additional $5.00 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Flush and vault toilets, hot showers and water.

Kelly Pines Campground designed as an equestrian campground and is located off of SR 66 about 9 miles from Marienville. Camping sites 1 and 2 are open to non-equestrians. When it is riding season sites 3-7 are open for equestrians only.

  • There are no electric, water or sewer hookups.
  • Daily camping fees range from $15 to $25 per site
  • Campground amenities include: Vault toilet and artisan well.

Twin Lakes Campground has 50+ campsites and each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and tent pad. It is located eight miles southeast of Kane off of SR 321.

Due to campsite size and a railroad underpass it is recommended that trailers over 28 feet in length or taller than 10 feet do not use this campground.

  • Some sites have electric.
  • At the time of this writing the campground is temporarily closed. For more information check hereOpens in a new tab..
  • Campground amenities include: Flush toilets, hot showers, water, beach, bathhouse, fishing pier, pavilions and playgrounds.

Boondocking in the Allegheny National Forest

For all of you van campers out there who love to boondock you will be happy to know that there are boondocking sites available in the forest. If you are not familiar with boondocking check out our post hereOpens in a new tab..

Boondocking campsites extend from Irwin Run to Millstone Creek along the Clarion River and can be accessed by River Road and FR 132. If you want to boondock there are 17 sites situated along the Clarion River and 9 sites located on Millstone Creek.

There is hardened parking at each site and camping is permitted only at numbered sites. No fee or permit is required and some sites are big enough to accommodate an RV.

Vault toilets are located at Irwin Run, Robin Island, and Millstone Creek. These facilities should be used instead of catholes.

Trash receptacles are not available so all trash must be carried out.

Van Camping Life Tip: While visiting drive the Longhouse Scenic Byway it is a 36-mile loop that runs through the stunning scenery of the Allegheny National Forest.

Allegheny Reservoir

The jewel in this magnificent national forest is the Allegheny Reservoir. This man-made lake formed in the 1960’s when the Kinzua Dam was built on the Allegheny River. The reservoir consists of 7,647 acres and includes area in both Pennsylvania and New York.

The length of Kinzua Lake is about 29 miles and the average depth is 48 feet. At summer pool the reservoir covers 12,080 surface acres.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State set the rules and regulations concerning reservoir use and vary depending what region you are in.

The Allegheny Reservoir provides van campers ample opportunities to enjoy many recreational water activities including, motorized and non-motorized boating, swimming, tubing, water skiing, fishing and bird watching just to name a few.

Other Posts of Interest

Hiking in the Allegheny National Forest

The Allegheny National Forest has over 200 miles of hiking trails so there are plenty of opportunities for either backpacking for a couple days or day hiking trips in the forest. Here’s a list of trails you might want to consider when visiting:

  • Beaver Meadows Hiking Trail is 7.1 miles long and the trailhead is located on FR 282, four miles north of Marienville on FR 128 (N. Forest Street).
  • Brush Hollow Cross Country Ski and Hiking Trail is 7.7 miles long and the trailhead is located ten miles north of Ridgway on SR 948.
  • Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Viewing and Hiking Area is 11.2 miles long. The southern trailhead is located on FR 157, 1 mile south of Marienville on Loleta Road. The northern trailhead is located on FR 376, 2.5 miles east of Marienville on Lamonaville Road.
  • Hearts Content Trails are located about 15 miles southwest of Warren. From U.S. Route 6, take Pleasant Drive and then take Hearts Content Road. Trails include an interpretive trail that is 1.1 miles long and an orienteering trail that is 5.9 miles long.
  • Hickory Creek Wilderness Trails is 12 miles long and the trailhead is located along SR 2002 (Hearts Content Road).
  • Jakes Rocks Overlook Trail is 1 mile long to find the trailhead follow FR 492 to the right when it splits and follow it to the parking area.
  • Laurel Mills Cross-Country Ski and Hiking Trail is 10.7 miles long and the trailhead is located three miles west of Ridgway on TR 307 or Spring Creek Road.
  • Little Drummer Historical Pathway is 3.1 miles long and the trailhead is located on Halton-Spring Creek Road.
  • Loleta Recreation Area Trail begins and ends at Loleta. The trail is 3 miles long and is located six miles south of Marienville.
  • Minister Creek Trail is 6.6 miles long and is 14.7 miles southwest of Sheffield. The trailhead parking is located on SR 666 west of the campground.
  • Morrison Hiking Trail is 11.4 miles long and is about 16 miles east of Warren and 17 miles from Bradford. The trailhead is located off SR 59.
  • North Country National Scenic Trail is 96.3 miles long and you can access the trail at multiple locations throughout the forest.
  • Rimrock Hiking Trail is 1.3 miles long and is located off of SR 59 about 13 miles east of Warren. The eastern trailhead is located at the Rimrock picnic area and the western trailhead is located at Kinzua Beach upper parking lot.
  • Timberdoodle Flats Interpretive Trail is 1.75 miles long and is located about 12 miles south of Bradford off of SR 59 on Sunny Lane.
  • Tracy Ridge Trail is 33.69 miles long and the trailhead is located 18 miles west of Bradford by way of SR 346 and SR 321. You can also get there from the Allegheny Reservoir/Morrison Bridge area by way of SR 59 and SR 321.
  • Twin Lakes Hiking Trail is 15.8 miles long and the trail is located at Twin Lakes Recreation Area, off of SR 321 between Wilcox and Kane. You can also get on the trail where it crosses SR 66, FR 152 and FR 443.

Hiking trails in the Allegheny National Forest provide a diverse range of terrain for the novice and experienced hiker. You can wander through forests of hemlock, oak, hickory and other species, enjoy the sounds of babbling streams, pause to watch the wildlife and listen to the sounds of nature.

These hiking trails provide an opportunity to enjoy the splendor of the colors of fall, take in the Mountain Laurel blooming in late spring and the pristine landscape when snowshoeing during winter. If you enjoy hiking this is just one more reason to van camp at the Allegheny National Forest.

Van Camping Life Tip: Visit the forest in the fall when changing colors of the hardwood leaves provide stunning views from the many overlooks.

The Allegheny National Forest is an Angler’s Paradise

Are you an avid fisherman? Then the Allegheny National Forest is the place to be with over 500 miles of pristine streams to fish on it is an angler’s paradise. Some streams contain native brook trout while others are stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout.

When looking to catch some trophies you might want to head out onto the reservoir where you can have an opportunity to catch walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, channel catfish, white bass, bullhead catfish, crappie, yellow perch or maybe even a brown trout.

Hardy van campers also have the option to ice fish in the winter!

Hit the trails on your Mountain Bike in the Allegheny National Forest

If you want to travel around the wilderness on your own power, but want to cover more ground than while hiking you might want to explore the more than 150 miles of trails that are open to mountain biking.

The following trails are open to mountain biking but some will be shared with other types of trail users.

  • The Brush Hollow Cross Country Ski and Hiking Trail is 7.7 miles long, is groomed by volunteers and offers many opportunities to enjoy the flora and fauna of the Allegheny National Forest. You can find the trailhead ten miles north of Ridgway on SR 948.
  • Buzzard Swamp Wildlife Viewing and Hiking Area covers 11.2 miles and offers fantastic wildlife viewing and photo opportunities.
    Two trailheads provide access to the area. The southern trailhead is located on FR 157, 1 mile south of Marienville on Loleta Road and the northern trailhead is located on FR 376, 2.5 miles east of Marienville on Lamonaville Road.
  • Jakes Rocks Trail consists of 10 miles of trail and provides spectacular views of Jackson Bay on the Allegheny Reservoir, Kinzua Dam and the surrounding area. It is located off of FR 492 about 15 miles from Warren.
  • Marienville ATV/Motorized Dirt Bike Trail is 37 miles in length. The trailhead is located along SR 66, approximately 15 miles southwest of Kane and 11 miles northeast of Marienville. The trail also is accessible where it crosses a road.
  • Morrison Hiking Trail provides 11.4 miles of trail containing steep slopes and forest with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. The trailhead is located off SR 59, about 16 miles east of Warren and 17 miles from Bradford.
  • Rocky Gap ATV/Mountain Bike Trail consists of two loops totaling 21.9 miles and SR 3005 divides it. Trailhead parking is located on FR 155, off of SR 3005, 6 miles south of Warren.
  • Timberline ATV Trail has 38 miles for your mountain biking enjoyment. Parking for the trail is located on FR 232, one mile south of the intersection of SR 948 and SR 66. There is also parking along Township Road 458 near Buehler Corner and Township Road 322 at Pigs Ear south of SR 66.
  • Willow Creek ATV/Mountain Bike Trail contains 10.8 miles of old roads providing plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Trailhead parking is located on FR 137 about 2 miles south of SR 346 which is about 11 miles west of Bradford.
  • Twin Lakes Hiking Trail provides 15.8 miles of trail and the trailhead is located at Twin Lakes Recreation Area, off SR 321 between Kane and Wilcox. You can also access the trail at the SR 66 and FR 152 and 443 crossings.

Van Camping Life Tip: While visiting the Allegheny National Forest go to the Tionesta Research Natural Area. There you will find the largest contiguous tract of old growth forest in Pennsylvania.

Ride the ATV/OHM trails while visiting the Allegheny National Forest

If you are intending to ride a motorized vehicle on trails in the Allegheny National Forest you are required to purchase an ATV Trail permit. The cost for a permit is $35 and it is good from January 1 to December 31. You can purchase permits at Forest offices, local vendors or by mail. For a trail permit application go hereOpens in a new tab..

The Rocky Gap ATV Trail is 23.1 miles in length and is divided into two loops by State Road 3005. Both loops have steep side slopes, the southern loop is rated more difficult and the northern loop is rated most difficult. Trailhead parking can be found on FR 155, off of SR 3005 six miles south of Warren.

The southern loop is 10.8 miles long and the northern loop is 11.1 miles in length both trails are one way except where posted. The trails open the Friday before Memorial Day and close the last Sunday of September.

The Willow Creek ATV Trail is about 10 miles long, is rated more difficult and is one-way except where posted. Trailhead parking is located about 11 miles west of Bradford on FR 137 and about 2 miles south of SR 346.

The trail is open the Friday before Memorial Day until the last Sunday of September and may be open at times during the winter depending on ground conditions.

The Penoke OHM and ATV Trail is a 23.1 mile loop, is rated most difficult and is best suited to off-highway motorcycles. The trail winds and twists, has a very rocky surface and is not recommended for inexperienced or novice riders. Off-highway motorcyclists can finish the trail in a few hours.

Trailhead parking is located about 22 miles southwest of Kane and about 4 miles northeast of Marienville at the end of FR 521 off of SR 66. You can also access the trail at Rocket John trailhead off of FR 395 by way of the Pigeon Connector on Duhring Road or wherever it crosses the road.

For those on ATVs it is a very demanding and challenging ride that will take at least 4 – 6 hours to finish.

The trail is open the Friday before Memorial Day until the last Sunday of September and is one-way except where posted.

The Marienville ATV and OHM Trail is made up of old roads, railroad grades, contains steep hill climbs and is approximately 14 miles in length and is rated most difficult. The trail is open the Friday before Memorial Day until the last Sunday of September and is one-way except where posted.

Trailhead parking is located along SR 66 approximately 11 miles northeast of Marienville and 15 miles southwest of Kane or you can access it wherever it crosses the road.

The Timberline ATV and OHM Trail is 39 miles of interconnecting trails, railroad grades and roads. The trail offers ATV and motorcycle riders with beginner skill levels an excellent place to ride. The trail is mostly level and wide with the trail rated as easiest.

Trailhead parking is on FR 232, about 1 mile south of the intersection of SR 948 and SR 66. Parking is also available along TR 458 near Buehler Corner and TR 322 at Pigs Ear south of SR 66 or you can access it wherever it crosses the road.

The Timberline ATV and OHM Trail is best suited to ATVs. The trail is open the Friday before Memorial Day until the last Sunday of September and is two-way. Throughout the winter it is dual use and is not groomed.

If you are taking a trip to use the trails you might want to call ahead and check to make sure the trails are open that you are planning to use because they could be closed due to weather conditions.

To contact the Allegheny National Forest for updated information you can reach their offices at the following numbers: Warren – 814-723-5150, Bradford – 814-362-4613 or Marienville – 814-927-6628.

In addition to the activities that we delved into above the Allegheny National Forest also allows hunting and trapping with the proper state licenses and permits.

Don’t forget to visit in the winter season since the forest also has around 365 miles of trails for snowmobiling and trails for cross country skiing and you might even see a dog sled team on the trails.

In case we still haven’t hit upon something for you to do there are also lots of back roads to spend an afternoon sightseeing, acres on which to catch a glimpse of wild animals, set up a spotting scope to bird watch at the reservoir or visit some of the small towns to enjoy a meal and do some shopping.

If you are looking for a van camping destination with a multitude of outdoor recreational activities the scenic Allegheny National Forest should be next on your list.

Cindy

Ever since I was little I have been a traveler at heart. It all started when I was six years old and my family took a road trip to Alaska. I enjoy visiting new places and revisiting some of the great locations that I have been to already.

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