DCSki Contributor Matt Lees recently went camping in the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania and checks in with a few notes on the trip.
The trip to Allegheny went well. It was pretty far out there from northeast Philly (about 6-7 hours) but was a nice place to camp. The park is fairly large - glad I took a rental car. We managed to fill it up with all our gear. By the end of the trip we racked up 1000 miles going through the mountains and all.
We arrived on late Tuesday afternoon and got everything set up, it was hot that day. It rained Tuesday night but we stayed dry. On Wednesday we did some hiking and explored the area. We visited the dam at the end of the resevoir. There was a visitor center there which showed the Seneca hydro power plant and some Indian artifacts. There were dozens of huge carp at the dam, some looked about 2 foot long.
When we got back to camp we had a monsoon. I rigged up a large tarp to keep some dry space and we hid in the tent until it cleared up in the evening. It gets really dark at night - Michelle was afraid of the lions, tigers, bears, and even some tiny chipmunks. We had a nice fire and the Coleman lamp which came in handy.
On Thursday we hung everything out to dry and moved the tent. We went on a long hike through some deep forest on the Morrison trail. Some areas were so thick it was like night. We saw a small deer but didn’t encounter any bears. The trail was challenging with a lot of creeks to cross and a good amount of mud from the rain. During the last few miles it poured rain again, this time it felt good. We hid in our newly dried home and waited it out. It was a lot cooler that night for a change.
On Friday we rented a small motorboat and went exploring the reservoir. There was good canoeing on the Clarion river but we didn’t feel like making the 1.5 hour trip down the mountain to Ridgway. We stopped at one of the boat access campgrounds to relax. If I had brought fishing gear I’m sure I would have caught something. We saw a large fish jump in one of the creeks right next to the boat.
If we had more time we would have explored more of the trails. Since it was our first time there it took a while to find places and check things out. We took a wrong turn and got to see some of the primitive camping areas at Jakes Rocks. After covering the poor car in mud and testing the shocks I was again glad for the rental car.
A lot of powerboaters use the reservoir for waterskiing, some were noisy in the campgrounds. Most left after the 4th so we had a relaxing time. We stayed at Dewdrop campground. Next time I go there I would probably stay at the Kiasutha area (20 min south on the scenic drive). It’s a little more convenient since there is a beach there and a small station for ice and firewood.
There are great places to camp in the backcountry along the trails, but the showers at the camp are hard to do without. Especially if you slip in the mud while hiking.
When he isn't skiing or camping, Matt Lees is an engineer residing north of Philadelphia, PA.
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