Kinzua Bridge State Park
The 339-acre Kinzua Bridge State Park offers visitors a chance to walk the Kinzua Bridge skywalk. Located in McKean County, this park is the home of the newly reinvented Kinzua Viaduct. The Viaduct, once known as the longest and tallest railroad structure at 2,053 feet long and 301 feet high, was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003. In 2011, the engineering masterpiece was reinvented as a new pedestrian walkway where visitors can stroll 600 feet out on the remaining support towers, peer miles out into the Kinzua Gorge as well as peer down into the partial glass platform at the end of the walkway. Picnicking and trail opportunities are available. The new Kinzua State Park Visitor Center and Park Office features great views, exhibits, and information on the surrounding area. The Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway is a designated shared use hike/bike corridor.
Recreational Advisory: Due to unsafe conditions in the area of the downed towers, visitors are prohibited from walking under the skywalk and in the surrounding area as indicated on the map.
Scenic Views: The skywalk gives close-up views of the viaduct and wide views of the Kinzua Creek Valley. The Overlook is excellent for viewing the skywalk and the valley. Both views are great for viewing fall foliage, which peaks the first two weeks of October.
The Picture Taking Platform under the skywalk allows visitors to photograph themselves and the remaining support towers in an interesting “3D” effect similar to what visitors used to have on the other side before the towers fell. A short side trail from the Kinzua Creek Trail leads to the platform.
Picnicking: The picnic area has shaded picnic tables. Modern restrooms are in the visitor center. A picnic pavilion that seats 60 people is accessible to people with disabilities. The pavilion can be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. If unreserved it is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hunting and Firearms: About 100 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, bear, and turkey. Hunting is prohibited from the skywalk. Adjacent State Game Lands 62 is open to hunting.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
The loop trail is named for General Thomas Leiper Kane, the visionary behind Kinzua Bridge. During the Civil War, Kane assembled the famed Bucktail Regiment. He also supported slave rights and, later, the Latter-day Saint movement as it migrated westward.
Kinzua Creek Trail: 0.4 mile (one way), most difficult hiking
Access to the short trail for the Picture Taking Platform is near the Overlook and the Kinzua Creek Trail trailhead.
CAUTION: Hikers on the Kinzua Creek Trail should be in good physical condition, wear sturdy boots, and use caution due to steep trail sections. Entrance into the debris field is strictly prohibited.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
This photo gallery contains images from after a tornado knocked down the Kinzua Viaduct. The images are .jpg versions. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Placement of the viaduct’s stone bases began in 1881 while the ironwork and entire bridge were completed in 1882. At the time, the Kinzua Viaduct was the highest railroad viaduct in the world. It was constructed as an alternative to laying an additional eight miles of track over rough terrain along the line leading to McKean County’s coal, timber and oil lands.
Built of iron, the original viaduct was approximately 301 feet high, 2,053 feet long and weighed 3,105,000 pounds.
By 1900, it became necessary to rebuild the entire structure with steel to accommodate heavier trains. Later that year, about 100 to 150 men, working ten-hour shifts, completed the job in 105 days. The new steel viaduct had the same measurements, but now weighed 6,706,000 pounds.
Freight traffic discontinued in 1959. In 1963, Governor William Scranton signed a law that created Kinzua Bridge State Park. The park officially opened in 1970. In 1977, Kinzua Viaduct received national recognition when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.
Beginning in 1987, excursion trains traveled from Kane, Pa., through the Allegheny National Forest, stopping on Kinzua Viaduct before returning to its point of origin.
In February 2002, DCNR engineers decided the structure needed a full-scale inspection. In June, DCNR barred excursion trains from the bridge.
As the inspection continued, engineers found that sections of steel were rusted through. In August, the bridge was closed to all traffic, including pedestrians.
Engineers determined that high winds could create lateral pressure on the bridge. The wind hitting the bridge could shift the center of gravity, increasing the weight on one side. Such an event could send the whole bridge crashing to the bottom of Kinuza Creek Valley.
Beginning in February, 2003, W. M. Brode Co. of Newcomerstown, Ohio, a national leader in railroad bridge construction and repair, began working to restore Kinzua Viaduct.
On Monday, July 21, 2003, at approximately 3:15 p.m., an F1 tornado (wind speed 73 – 112 mph) struck the side of Kinzua Viaduct. Eleven towers from the center of the bridge were torn from their concrete bases and thrown to the valley floor.
Today, park visitors can once again walk a portion of the Kinzua Bridge. Built on six restored, original towers, a pedestrian walkway (skywalk) leads to a 225-foot high observation deck that gives a towering view of the Kinzua Creek Valley. A partial glass floor in the deck reveals a breathtaking glimpse into the steel structure of the bridge. The eleven twisted and scattered bridge towers blown over by the tornado remain at the bottom of the valley for visitors to view from the deck railings. Several benches line the paved walkway to the skywalk.
A grand opening was held on September 15, 2011.
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Kinzua Bridge State Park
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Interactive GIS Map
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Kinzua Bridge State Park is four miles north of US 6 at Mt. Jewett on SR 3011.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.75953 Long. -78.58702
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Kinzua Bridge State Park