America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Pennsylvania State Forests

Pennsylvania State Forests and Nearby History

Across the breadth of Pennsylvania, a variety of state lands abound, and some, including State Parks, State Game Lands, and State Forests hold a historic place in the state's upbringing and are near even greater history at every turn. The story of the Pennsylvania State Forest system is an interesting one on its own.

  • The history of Pennsylvania's State Forests began out of necessity when conservationists like Joseph Rothrock saw that lumber companies had cut the old-growth forest and was concerned about forest management in the future for those lands. When he was appointed the first commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Water in 1895, he began buying up parcels of used lumber company land. This began in 1897.

    Perhaps a little known fact, even for Pennsylvania based folks like ourselves, is that State Forests are open to a variety of uses, including camping, and it's for free. Now, don't expect a KOA. These are primitive sites. Some may have a fire ring, cement pad, and a picnic table (those should be reserved in advance and require a permit). Others are just a place in the forest or in a parking lot. Some of those locations have a pit toilet; some do not. Some have community picnic pavilions; some do not. This is primitive camping, but it is, in many parts of the state, close to historic sites like Gettysburg, about twenty minutes from Micheaux State Forest along Route 30 to the west. In eastern Pennsylvania, the Conrad Weiser State Forest is close to Cabela's (only a couple miles), the Appalachian Trail (just a trail walk from the forest) and Hawk Mountain (again, only a few miles away.)

    There are 20 forest districts in Pennsylvania.

    Micheaux - South/Central Pennsylvania.
    Buchanan - South/Central Pennsylvania.
    Tuscarora - South/Central Pennsylvania.
    Forbes - Southwestern Pennsylvania.
    Rothrock - Central Pennsylvania.
    Gallitzin - Southwestern Pennsyvania.
    Bald Eagle - Central Pennsylvania.
    Clear Creek - Central/Western Pennsylvania.
    Moshanin - Central Pennsylvania.
    Sprout - Central Pennsylvania.
    Lackawanna - Northeastern Pennsylania.
    Tiadauhton - Central Pennsylvania.
    Elk - Central Pennsylvania.
    Cornplanter - Northwestern Pennsylvania.
    Susquehannock - North/Central Pennsylvania.
    Tioga - North/Central Pennsylvania.
    William Penn - Southeastern Pennsylvania.
    Weiser - Central/Eastern Pennsylvania.
    Delaware - Northeastern Pennsylvania.
    Loyalsock - Northeastern Pennsylvania.

  • Pennsylvania State Forests

    What's There

    Woods for sightseeing, hunting at certain times of the year, and hiking.

    Trails for hiking, horse back riding, and ATV's.

    Free Primitive camping. Some pad sites. Some pit toilets. Differs by section.

    Picnic facilities at some locations.

    Each district has a park headquarters, where you get additional information and get park permits, when needed. Not every tract has a headquarters, however, and there can be many tracts within a forest district. Park permits for camping, in general, are needed for pad sites and/or when staying more than one night in any location. Backcountry one night stays generally do not need permits.

    How Much to Visit


    Hours Open

    Year round. Most sites are patrolled on a regular basis by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Rangers.

    Website: Pennsylvania State Forests

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