Susquehannock State Forest
Don't Move Firewood
To help protect the forest from invasive insects that can kill trees and devastate the ecosystem, please do not transport firewood over long distances. Firewood can harbor insects such as emerald ash borer. Cut or purchase your firewood where you intend to burn it.
The Susquehannock State Forest derives its name from the Susquehannock Indian tribe, which at one time inhabited practically all of the land in this region. The 265,000 acre state forest is located primarily in Potter with parts in Clinton and Mckean counties.
The original forest was cut over from the late 1800's through the 1920's. Following this cutting and forest fires, a new forest of hardwoods emerged, consisting of more hardwoods and less hemlock and white pines.
In 1901 the first tract of what was to become the Susquehannock State Forest was purchased. Theodore Cobb sold the state 21,585 acres south of Coudersport near the towns of Austin, Odin, and Borie. By 1949 all the major purchases of the forest land had been made at an average cost of $2.50 per acre.
During the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established ten camps on the forest. Many of the present state forest roads and trails were built at that time. Many buildings put up by the CCC have been removed or replaced since the 1950's but several smaller CCC buildings can still be found.
DCNR Bureau of Forestry manages our state forests for their long-term health and productivity while conserving native wild plants. These forests are “working forests” and provide a whole suite of uses and values to Pennsylvania citizens, all while maintaining the forest’s wild character. Our state forests are managed for pure water, recreation, scenic beauty, plant and animal habitat, sustainable timber and natural gas, and many other uses and values. The management of our state forests is guided by the State Forest Resource Management Plan.
The Bureau of Forestry has adopted “ecosystem management” as its principal strategy for managing state forests. This approach seeks to conserve the natural patterns and processes of the forest while advancing long-term sustainability. Ecosystem management promotes the conservation of plant and animal communities and the landscapes and habitats that support them. It also accounts for needs and values of people and communities. This results in a holistic, integrated approach to managing forest resources.
A Working Forest
As you travel throughout the state forest, you’ll see examples of our forests “at work.” Some of these management practices are more noticeable than others, such as active timber harvests, deer exclosure fences, natural gas drilling sites, prescribed fires and gypsy moth spraying. Others are more subtle, such as the protection of a vernal pool, the buffering of a stream from timber harvesting, or the setting aside of a special area to conserve its wild character or protect a rare plant community. Each of these management practices and activities play a vital role in the management and conservation of our state forest system.
Certified “Well Managed”
Pennsylvania’s 2.2-million-acre state forest system is one the largest certified forests in North America. The forest is certified (FSC-C017154) under the Forest Stewardship Council™ standards. The FSC® is an independent organization supporting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests.
Susquehannock Trail System
The Susquehannock State Forest offers some of the best opportunities for both experienced and inexperienced hikers to enjoy Pennsylvania’s remote and scenic woodlands. There are many trails in the Susquehannock but the featured one is the Susquehannock Trail System. This 85-mile loop winds through the forested hills and valleys in the region. It was created by joining together a number of old and new foot trails, logging roads, and abandoned railroad grades. The trail originates at the district office along Route 6 in Potter County and extends south into Clinton County. The route is well-marked with rectangular orange blazes and is mostly comfortable walking with a few steep grades.
The Susquehannock State Forest offers some of the best opportunities for both experienced and inexperienced hikers to enjoy Pennsylvania’s remote and scenic woodlands. About 550 miles of hiking trails exist within the forest. Only 150 miles of trail are well marked and maintained.
There are many trails in the Susquehannock but the featured one is the Susquehannock Trail System. This 85-mile loop winds through the forested hills and valleys in the region. It was created by joining together a number of old and new foot trails, logging roads, and abandoned railroad grades. The trail originates at the district office along Route 6 in Potter County and extends south into Clinton County. The route is well-marked with rectangular orange blazes and is mostly comfortable walking with a few steep grades. Susquehannock Trail Club volunteers maintain the trail system. The club sells trail maps and guides to generate revenue.
Other trails worthy of mention include the Mount Brodhead trail system and the Cherry Springs Working Forest Interpretive Trail. The Mount Brodhead trail system uses several existing trails to create a nice 7.6 mile loop trail. It is perfect for someone who is looking to do a moderate day hike. The Cherry Springs Working Forest Interpretive Trail is a self-guided introduction to the role of timber harvesting in sustaining forests. It is important to understand that forestry is the art and science of tending, reproducing, and managing a forest with all its resources for a variety of benefits and values. There are sixteen stations with informational signage along the trail.
Many of the state parks offer opportunities for picnicking and may even reserve pavilions for day events. Across the state forest picnic tables are placed at some trailheads and high use areas. Contact the district office for more information.
Camping opportunities can be found at most of the state parks in the area. The parks provide improved sites that include tent and camper pads, picnic tables, and fire rings. Most also provide shower and bathroom facilities. Some parks now offer electricity too.
There are plenty of unimproved camping opportunities on state forest land. We provide no designated campsites except at the 12 Mile and Dyer equine camping areas. We have three categories of camping: motorized, primitive, and group. All require a free permit except when primitive camping for only one night at a site. Click here for more information on general camping guidelines.
Hunting is probably the biggest recreational activity on the forest. Other than a few safety zones around buildings, hunting is permitted throughout the state forest. Over 120 acres of wildlife food plots are maintained on the forest. Every year thousands of people travel from the metropolitan areas of Pennsylvania and neighboring states to hunt deer, turkey, bear, and grouse. Each year additional antlerless deer hunting opportunities are provided through the DMAP program. For more information about DMAP click here.
During early muzzleloader and rifle deer season over 60 miles of gated roads are open for vehicle traffic to allow hunters better access. Access information can be found here. The district also provides over four thousand acres that are open to hunting by disabled hunters on ATV’s with special permits.
Grouse hunting is especially popular in the Susquehannock State Forest. A map of recent timber management areas that provide good grouse habitat and enhanced hunting opportunities is available online and from the district office. See Grouse Hunters Map of the Susquehannock State Forest.
Trout fishing is popular in the forest. There are hundreds of miles of stream providing native and stocked trout fishing opportunities. Kettle Creek has a fly-fishing only area, while one of its tributaries, Cross Fork Creek, is a wild trout fishery. The Hammersley Wild Area provides great trout fishing in a back country atmosphere. Some warm water fishing opportunities can be found at Sinnemahoning State Park and Lyman Run State Park.
The Susquehannock State Forest is also a haven for the sightseer. The headwaters of the Susquehanna and Allegheny Rivers originate in this rugged and beautiful section of the Allegheny Mountains. Within the Susquehannock State Forest are 170 miles of roads for enjoying the forested scenery. Deer, turkey, bears, hawks, grouse, and porcupines are frequently observed while traveling the forest roads and bobcat sightings have become more common in recent years. Sixteen vistas provide magnificent views of the forest, particularly during fall foliage time.
The district has almost unlimited opportunities for horseback riding. Nearly all of the district trails and roads are available for this use. The Gods Country Shared Use Trail provides over 80 miles of riding opportunities through Susquehannock State Forest lands. There are 2 equine camping areas located within the district.
Click here for information about proper trail etiquette.
All state forest roads are open to mountain biking. In addition, all haul roads and most district trails are available for riding. The Billy Lewis Bike, Hike, XC trail contains 14 miles of designated trail and it originates at the district office. The Denton Hill XC trail is adjacent to the Billy Lewis trail and is also popular with mountain bikers. It provides over 20 miles of trail riding opportunities.
All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s)
The Susquehannock has one designated ATV trail that is 43 miles in length. The main trailhead is at the District office, but there are 4 smaller trailheads located along the trail. There is a bathroom available at the District Office maintenance building, the Lyman Run parking area, and one located along the trail. This trail system connects to the Sweden Twp. Road system, which is open to ATV’s, near the intersection of the Billy Lewis Road, Irish Farm Road, and US Rte. 6. These township roads offer riders many more miles of legal ATV riding opportunities. Susquehannock ATV Trail map.
Please visit the ATV information page for more information on ATV operation and riding opportunities within the State Forest system.
The Susquehannock State Forest offers over 40 miles of designated cross-country ski trails. The most popular trail is the Denton Hill XC trail system. Most of the trail is groomed periodically during the season. At over 20 miles, it provides skiing opportunities for the beginner or the experienced. Suggested loops vary from a few miles to over 12 miles. The Billy Lewis Bike, Hike, XC trail offers 14 miles of skiing opportunity and the Pine Mountain XC trail offers about 7 miles of skiing. Many foot trails, gated timber sale roads, and old railroad grades are also used by cross-country skiers.
Over 250 miles of joint use roads and snowmobile trails are groomed each winter for snowmobiles on the Susquehannock State Forest, all of which are found on the North Central Snowmobile Trails Map. Maps are available online or at the district office. The forest lies just on the eastern edge of the lake effect snow belt. During the winter months there is usually adequate snow for all the various winter activities.
There is one state owned, leased skiing facility on the forest located about 12 miles east of Coudersport, on U.S. 6, at Denton Hill State Park. It has several slopes and lifts, a clubhouse, and offers ski instruction during the skiing season. For more information about skiing at Denton Hill State Park click on the following link: http://www.skidenton.com/
Pennsylvania’s state forest system includes dozens of special wild and natural areas set aside to protect unique or unusual biologic, geologic, scenic and historical features or to showcase outstanding examples of the state’s major forest communities. Natural areas are “managed” by nature and direct human intervention is limited. They provide places for scenic observation, protect special plant and animal communities and conserve outstanding examples of natural beauty. Wild areas are generally extensive tracts managed to protect the forest’s wild character and to provide back country recreational opportunities.
Hammersley Wild Area
This 30,253 tract is located in Potter and Clinton counties and is comprised of wooded valleys and plateaus. Traces of several logging camps and a logging railroad can be found here.
Forest H. Dutlinger Natural Area
This 1,521 acre tract is surrounded by Hammersley Wild Area in northern Clinton County. Its main feature is a 158 acre stand of old growth timber but it is also an important reptile and amphibian protection area.
For more information and maps to these and other State Parks visit the "Find a Park" page.
Lyman Run State Park
This 595 acre park offers picnicking, hunting, mountain biking, and backpacking as well as camping on 35 sites.
Sizerville State Park
This 386 acre park is located in Potter and Cameron Counties and offers picnicking, hunting, and hiking on five miles of trails. Swimming is available in a park pool and fishing is popular in Cowley Run which runs through the park. Camping is offered at 23 sites. The park also offers cross-country skiing and is a major trail head to the Elk State Forest’s snowmobile system.
Bendigo State Park
This 100 acre park located in Elk County offers picnicking and a swimming pool. It features a one acre lake that provides opportunities for cold water fishing. Sledding is a popular winter activity in this state park.
Sinnemahoning State Park
This 1,910 acre park is located in Potter and Cameron counties and offers picnicking, hunting, and hiking on five miles of trails. The 142 acre lake provides opportunities for fishing and boating and boat mooring and launching are available. This park also features 35 campsites and modern cabins. Winter activities here include ice skating and fishing, as well as five miles of snowmobile trails.
Kinzua Bridge State Park
This park is famous for the 2,053-foot Kinzua railroad bridge which has been designated as a National Engineering Landmark. This 316 acre Mckean County also offers picnicking, hunting, hiking, and cold water fishing in Kinzua Creek as well as an organized-group tenting area.