Tuscarora State Forest
Tuscarora State Forest derives its name from Tuscarora Mountain, which was named for the Iroquois-nation tribe that once inhabited the area. Comprising 96,025 acres, the Tuscarora includes tracts in Cumberland, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, and Perry counties.The forest spans across the heart of south-central Pennsylvania's distinctive ridges and mountain gaps.
Researchers from West Virginia University are currently monitoring the migration of golden eagles along the ridges of the Tuscarora State Forest. You can view photos documenting the activities of golden eagles, bald eagles and other wildlife of Penn’s Woods through the adjacent link.
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.
Tuscarora State Forest lands cover the narrow valleys and steep rocky ridges of the ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania. These fertile, well watered sites are ideal for growing majestic oak and hemlock forests. There are abundant populations of most wildlife species native to this region. Forests of the lower slopes are essentially mixed mesophytic communities with a large proportion of hemlock and white pine among mixed oaks, red maple, sugar maple, beech, basswood, tuliptree, and ash.
The original forest in this area consisted of hemlock in the stream bottoms with American chestnut and oak on the slopes and mountain tops. The first state purchase of land for this district was 7,608 acres bought in 1902 from J. Preston Thomas at a cost of $1.72 per acre. Originally called the Rothrock Forest Reserve, this tract was later merged with the Pennypacker and McClure reserves to form the present Tuscarora State Forest.
Lumbering began in earnest in the early 1900's by large lumber companies such as the Perry Lumber Company, Oak Extract Company, East Waterford Lumber Company and the Pine Creek Lumber and Timber Company. The great logging era ended in 1930.
A major development came in 1933 with the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work program for able-bodied and unemployed males. State forestry personnel planned and supervised work activities for the CCC, which included construction and maintenance of roads, trails, and bridges and the development of state parks, picnic areas, and scenic overlooks. Six CCC camps were located in the Tuscarora.
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.
Iron Horse Trail
An additional 167 miles of short, local hiking trails are located throughout the Tuscarora. The majority of these trails have signs at the starting and terminal points. Most of the trail maintenance is done by volunteers.
Iron Horse Trail
Big Spring Picnic Area is tucked in the side of Conococheague Mountain, Picnic tables pavilions are available on a first-come–first-served basis. A short loop trail leads to a partially completed railroad tunnel with historic interpretation at the trailhead. Big Spring also provides access to the Iron Horse Trail for day and overnight hiking in the surrounding state forest.
With the exception of designated natural areas, primitive backpack camping is allowed throughout the state forest. Primitive backpack campers do not need a permit if they stay no more than one night at any campsite.
Fishing & Boating
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 backcountry recreational opportunities.
Hemlocks Natural Area
Hoverter and Sholl Box Huckleberry Natural Area
Frank E. Masland, Jr. Natural Area
James C. Nelson Wild Area
For more information and maps to these and other State Parks visit the "Find a Park" page.
Colonel Denning State Park
Big Spring State Park
Little Buffalo State Park
Fowlers Hollow State Park
For more information about Tuscarora State Forest contact us at:
Tuscarora District Office
The Tuscarora State Forest District Office is located on State Route 274 in Perry County, Toboyne Twp.
DMS N40 deg 18 min 11 sec, W77 deg 35 min 22 sec
DD 40.30239, -77. 589262
From the South: From the square in Carlisle go north on State Route 74 14.5 miles to Alinda, turn left onto State Route 850 West and go 4.1 miles to Loysville. Turn left onto State Route 274 and proceed 9.6 miles to the town of Blain. Turn left in town at the State Route 17 intersection and stay on State Route 274 4.8 miles west through New Germantown. The Tuscarora State Forest District Office is located on your right.
From the North: From the intersection of State Route 322 and State Route 75, take State Route 75 South through Port Royal and turn left onto State Route 74 South (4.7 mi) and go 7.6 miles to Ickesburg. Turn right onto State Route 17 and travel 12.5 miles west to Blain. Take State Route 274 4.8 miles west through New Germantown. The Tuscarora State Forest District Office is located on your right.
From the East: From the intersection of State Route 17 and State Route 274 in the town of Blain, take State Route 274 4.8 miles west through New Germantown. The Tuscarora State Forest District Office is located on your right.
From the West: Exit the PA Turnpike (I76) at Willow Hill and go north on State Route 75 9.6 miles to Doylesburg, turn right onto State Route 274. Proceed 9.6 miles and you will see the Tuscarora State Forest District Office located on the left.