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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 Forests

The Bureau of Forestry manages camping in three distinct categories, primitive backpack camping, motorized camping and group camping.

Invasive 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 by Email. Information can also be found within individual State Forest pages.

State Forest Trails Award - Award given to any hiker who completes the entire 780 miles of the State Forest Hiking Trail system.

Old 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.

Mountain Biking
All state forest roads are open to mountain bicycling. In addition, many rail trails and district trails are available for riding.

Horseback 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.

Cross-country Skiing
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.

Birding/Nature Observation
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 Riding
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 at 570-922-3344.

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 maintained.

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 with Disabilities
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

Miscellaneous Recreation
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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