Spring officially begins on March 20 this year! As the sunrays warm, wildflowers start to appear, and the wind carries the breath of spring along with the music of birds singing. So catch the fever - make your plans now to get outside. Plan a springtime hike, buy some new fishing or camping equipment, sign up for a fly-fishing class, or just enjoy a drive exploring the Allegheny National Forest Region of northwestern Pennsylvania … with the windows rolled down!
CELEBRATE YOUR IRISH – GET YOUR GREEN ON!
Saint Patrick’s Day is Thursday, March 17, and the saying goes that everyone is a little Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. It is truly a day of celebrating Irish history, ancestry, traditions and customs - like wearing green.
No one does the wearing of green better than the Allegheny National Forest as it awakens from its winter slumber. As the trees start to bud, an elusive color of bright yellowish green (we’ll call it “spring-time green”) starts to color the branches of thousands of trees within the forest. Springtime green can only be experienced for a short time. As the leaves mature they take on a richer, darker green, a green that will last until the first frosts of fall. But let’s not talk fall - we just changed over the calendar to spring!
One of the best ways to enjoy the re-birth of the forest is to plan a road trip along the Longhouse National Scenic Byway. Selected by U.S. Today as the number one scenic drive in Pennsylvania, you can easily access this 27-mile looped byway from Route 219. Follow Route 219 to the intersection of Route 770, just south of Bradford. Turn onto Route 770 and head west; it will become Route 59. As you pass the Bradford Ranger Station, you are now entering the Longhouse National Scenic Byway. Plan to stop at the Ranger Station; you will find all types of information here about the Allegheny National Forest, including topo maps for trail enthusiasts.
Continue on Route 59 west toward the Allegheny Reservoir. Along this stretch of the loop, you pass the trailhead for Morrison Trail. This trail has two loops: the 5.3-mile Morrison Trail Loop which passes boulder fields and a forgotten homestead, and the 8.3-mile Rimrock Trail Loop, which drops to the shore of the Allegheny (Kinzua) Reservoir.
About a mile past the Morrison Trailhead is the entrance to Rimrock, a magnificent rock outcrop and overlook above the Kinzua Creek Arm of the Allegany Reservoir. This area offers picnic areas and hiking trails.
As you continue on Route 59, you will see the sign for the Kinzua/Wolf Run Marina on the right, just before crossing the Allegheny Reservoir on the Morrison Bridge. Immediately past the bridge, turn left onto Longhouse Drive. The access road to Jakes Rocks is about a mile up Longhouse Drive. This impressive rock outcrop offers a spectacular vista over the Allegheny Reservoir.
Longhouse Drive continues a winding course passing the Dewdrop Recreation Area before merging with Route 321.
At the intersection of Route 321, take a left to visit the small village of Kane, Pennsylvania. In Kane, you will find a variety of family-owned restaurants, interesting shops to explore, Flickerwood Wine Cellars, and CJ Spirits Craft Distillery for touring and tasting.
If you are into crafting (and if you aren’t, well, you should be as March is national crafting month), visit the shop named Zanadu located at 105 North Fraley Street. Zanadu offers a wide selection of fabrics, including quilting fabrics and supplies, along with everything for the home sewer or crafter. They also offer a wide variety of children’s craft kits for different ages and interests.
Return back to Route 321 and head north. This road re-enters the Allegheny National Forest just outside of Kane. You’ll be returning to the Byway about eight miles from Kane where it intersects with Longhouse Drive. Continue on Route 321 north past Red Bridge. This is the head of the Kinzua Creek Arm of the Allegheny Reservoir. You will pass Red Bridge Campground and Elijah Run, which has a fishing pier, courtesy dock, and shoreline trial.
Continue north on Route 321; the byway follows the reservoir for a short distance and then begins to rise into the highlands through a beautiful forest of hardwoods and hemlocks. Nearing the top of the plateau, you will pass the Old Powerhouse Museum, an original timepiece from the glory days of oil in this region. Route 321 then connects to Route 59 at the Bradford Ranger Station. Here you will turn right (heading east) to return to Route 219.
CATCH A BIG ONE: TRY YOUR LUCK FISHING
Elijah Run and Red Bridge Campground are places you’ll want to return to during fishing season. The Allegheny Reservoir in the Allegheny National Forest offers the angler a variety of fishing opportunities from small native brook trout to trophy fishing for muskie, pike and walleye. The Allegheny Reservoir is a 12,000-acre impoundment on the Allegheny River, and it is the largest reservoir in the Forest. Campsites at Red Bridge run from $18 to $23 a day. Reservations can be made by calling 877-444-6777 or online at recreation.gov.
A variety of fishing licenses are available in Pennsylvania. Non-residents can purchase a tourist license for one, three or seven days. In addition, resident and senior resident licenses are available online at fish.state.pa.us or at over 1,300 licensing agents within Pennsylvania.
Paul’s Trading Post at 11124 Route 321 in Kane is where you can find everything you need for a great fishing trip: fishing line reel, re-spooling, live bait, lures, hooks and a fishing license. Just ask and you’ll also get plenty of free fishing advice and some great fishing stories.
Offering cabin rentals, Paul’s Trading Post also offers canoe and kayak rentals so you can enjoy a day out on the reservoir fishing. Here you can purchase ammo, clothing, groceries, hoagies, and Tillamook Jerky. If you can’t make it during business hours, take advantage of their 24-hour self-serve firewood and bait station. For rental or reservations please phone 814-945-6504 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
KINZUA FLY FISHING SCHOOL
As spring arrives, many have thoughts of spending time in the Allegheny National Forest, wading into a mountain stream in search of wild trout. If you would like to learn how to fly-fish, the Kinzua Fly Fishing School is an affordable fishing “camp” option for both beginning and intermediate fly-fishers, male and female, ages 12 to adult. The school instruction includes fly casting, fly tying, knots and fly-fishing techniques, with wets, streamers and dry flies.
Classes are structured to allow students to participate at their own level. Classes are held at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in Bradford, PA, and students can stay on campus. Along with classroom and on-stream instruction, you will be provided with all-you-can eat meals, a camp T-shirt, flies for student use, a student reference and starter notebook, a fly tying guide, and use of a fly tying vise and materials during class. Time is also scheduled for supervised practice on stream including the private, trout stocked stream on campus.
It is highly recommended campers use their own fly rods. There are a limited number of loaner rods available, but to insure availability, if you need a loaner road, please register early and request loan equipment. Every student 16 years and older will need a Pennsylvania fishing license. An opportunity to purchase a license will be available when you check in for class.
There are two different class structures. A two day school - May 21-22, 2016 with classes taught by the Kinzua Fly Fishing instructors at $305 (including overnight); and a three-day school - May 13-15, 2016 with two days instruction with world-renowned fly-fisherman Joe Humphreys and one day taught by Kinzua Fly Fishing instructors. To register or for more information please call Steve Skvarka at 814-368-5814 or e-mail email@example.com.
EASTER BRUNCH: A HOLIDAY TRADITION
For many, upon awakening Easter Sunday on March 27, the children will hunt for the Easter basket left by the Easter bunny. Families will dress in their finest spring clothes and go off to church. Easter Bruch, with either a late breakfast or a more formal meal of baked ham for family and friends, is a part of this holiday’s traditions for many families.
To help set your holiday table in style, visit the Old Schoolhouse Village Shoppes for inexpensive, one-of-a-kind dining sets, tableware, and seasonal spring decorations. This 8,000 square-foot, co-op artisan shop offers a fun day enjoying a shopping excursion. Located in a renovated schoolhouse, you will walk the painted cobblestone hallway to visit each of the themed “schoolroom” shops. Choose from Shabby Chic, Primitive, Country Splendor, Northwest Cabin, Lake House, and Western Farmhouse Kitchen.
Their handcrafted furniture includes quality reproductions handmade in-house, along with re-imagined antiques and collectibles. In total, the Old Schoolhouse Village Shoppe features works from over 100 vendors and artisans. Their Toy Room and Sweet Shoppe will make filling your youngster’s Easter baskets a treat! They are open Wednesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm, and they are located at 109 Indian Creek Road in Eldred, PA, phone 814-225-2233. Visit them on the web at oldeschoolhousevillageshoppes.com.
If dining out is more your style, John Williams European Pastry Shop offers a Sunday buffet, along with a wide selection of delicious pastries, fudge, cookies, cakes, butter rolls, and fresh baked breads. You’ll know you are in the right place when you walk in and see the bakery cases full of tempting all-homemade, freshly baked delicacies. Their fromwich, a breakfast item of their own creation, is something the locals recommend you try. Along with the Sunday buffet, you can order from their regular breakfast or lunch menu. Located at 20 Mechanic Street in Bradford, PA, they serve both breakfast and lunch daily. Phone 814-362-6637.
For a large family looking for a casual, laid-back, inexpensive Sunday breakfast or brunch, the Lighthouse Family Restaurant is a local favorite. Here you can order all the traditional breakfast favorites - eggs done the way you like them, with stacks of pancakes and maple syrup. Their backroom is large enough to host a group; to reserve the room for a private function please phone ahead. The Lighthouse is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are located at 26 Bolivar Drive in Bradford, PA, phone 814-368-5111.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
To request a free 2016 Allegheny National Forest Travel Guide & Map please phone 800-473-9370. For a full list of upcoming events, lodging choices, restaurants, shops and downloadable maps please go to www.visitANF.com.