The recreational use of State Forest land
is quite varied. Some of the most common activities include scenic driving,
hunting, camping, hiking and nature watching. Some of the less common
uses include hang gliding, dogsledding, and kayaking. Listed below is
an inventory of many of the most common uses and the sites, resources
and facilities available to accommodate those users.
Organized and Commercial Activities
DCNR's Bureau of Forestry is charged with minimizing conflicts among State
Forest users and ensuring our natural resources are managed in an environmentally
sound manner. The forests are often used for organized events and commercial
activities. We manage and govern decisions on the appropriateness of each
request through one of three agreement methods.
Information on recreational opportunities
can also be found within individual State
The Bureau of Forestry manages camping in three distinct categories,
primitive backpack camping, motorized camping and group camping.
Hitchhikers Fact Sheets
Information designed to help recreational enthusiasts learn how they
can play a critical role in minimizing the spread of invasive species
while participating in recreational activities.
Hiking trails have been developed in most Forest Districts. Hiking trails
are divided into four categories: National Scenic, State Forest Hiking
Trails, local district trails and interpretive tails. For more information
on hiking trails, contact the Recreation Section at (717) 783-7941 or
Information can also be found within individual State
Trails Award - Award given to any hiker who completes the entire 780
miles of the State Forest Hiking Trail system.
Growth Forests of Pennsylvania - Old growth forests are considered
an endangered habitat in Pennsylvania. However, just as with some endangered
species, with care, effort, and enough time, forests can recover many
of their old growth characteristics.
All state forest roads are open to mountain bicycling. In addition, many
rail trails and district trails are available for riding.
Nearly all of the district trails and roads are available for this use.
Two trails exist specifically for equestrian use. In addition, 2.1 million
acres of state forest land is available for cross-country riding.
Pennsylvania is second only to Alaska in the number of miles of streams
in one state. There is also an abundance of lakes and ponds.
The Bureau of Forestry has cross-country ski trails in almost every forest
district. Most of the trails and low-use and gated roads are also available
for cross-country skiing when they are snow covered. Contact the State
Forest District Office for trail information and maps.
Bird watching and nature observation are uses that can potentially occur
on the entire 2.1 million acres of state forest land.
Scenic Driving/Pleasure Driving
This is the largest recreational use of state forest lands. Most recreational
users participate in this activity coming to and from the state forest,
but for many this is the sole purpose of their visit to state forest land.
All-terrain vehicle ownership is at an all time high in the Commonwealth.
The current ATV trail system has grown to 10 state forest trail systems.
Motorized Trail Bike Riding
The Bureau of Forestry offers two motorized trail bike (motorcycle) trails.
The Seven Mountains Ramble and Shade Mountain trails are both located
in portions of Mifflin, Snyder, and Union Counties in the Bald Eagle State
Forest. The Seven Mountains Ramble trail is designated for dual-sport
(licensed for highway use) trail bikes and the Shade Mountain trail is
for non-licensed, off-highway trail bikes. If you wish to have copies
of either of these maps, please contact the Bald Eagle State Forest office
Snowmobile trails and joint-use roads are maintained in 18 districts across
the state. Many of these trails are groomed, and access parking lots are
Hunting in accordance with Pennsylvania Game Laws remains a popular recreational
activity on nearly all the forestlands managed by the Bureau of Forestry.
Motorized Vehicle Access to State Forest Land by Persons
DCNR issues letters of authorization for persons with disabilities to
use motorized vehicles on designated roads and off-road areas of State
Forest land. To qualify for this program, a person must have a permanent
disability that severely restricts the ability to walk. For more information
contact the Recreation Section at (717) 783-7941 or by Email
State Forest land is host to an almost endless list of other recreational
uses. These include astronomy, dog sledding, geo-caching, gold panning,
jogging, hang gliding, ice-skating, motorcycle riding, orienteering, photography,
rock climbing, rappelling, sleigh riding, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing,
spelunking, swimming, snorkeling and tubing. All these and more are permitted
uses of state forest land.
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