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Explore PA

One, if by Land, Two, if by Sea

THE LANDS OF KINZUA

This region is filled with attractions named Kinzua: the Kinzua Sky Walk, the Kinzua Bridge State Park, the Kinzua Gorge, Kinzua Creek, Kinzua Creek Trail, Kinzua Valley Trail and Kinzua Dam. The word Kinzua is a Native American word translated as “Fish on a Spear.” The sites named Kinzua stretch across most of McKean County and into parts of Warren County, Pennsylvania. The Kinzua name is used along the course of Kinzua Creek, as it flows from its headwaters north of the Kinzua Gorge, past the village of Westline, along the Kinzua Valley Trail, to the Kinzua Arm of the Allegheny Reservoir. Here the waters merge with the Allegheny River flowing south from New York. These waters become the Kinzua Dam, also known as the Allegheny Reservoir, one of the largest dams in the United States east of the Mississippi River. It is located within the Allegheny National Forest.

THE KINZUA SKYWALK

The Kinzua Sky Walk is an amazing site to visit. This marvelous structure is a juxtaposition of nature’s beauty, engineering genius, and the power of the wind. When the Kinzua Viaduct was first built in 1882, it was the longest and highest railroad viaduct in the world. In 1900, it was rebuilt of steel to haul the rich resources of coal, timber, and oil to the Great Lakes. Operating as an active railroad from 1882 to 1957, this railroad was remarkable for solving the engineering challenges of building a viaduct 2,053 feet long to cross the Kinzua Gorge. Early on, the railroad was used as an excursion train for travelers wanting to experience the thrill of flight as they crossed 321 feet above Kinzua Creek. Travelers came from near and far to “Walk the Tracks Across the Sky.“

In 2003, in the midst of a $12 million restoration of this National Engineering Landmark, an F1 tornado blew into the gorge and toppled 11 of the original 20 towers of the Kinzua Viaduct. Following this destruction, it was decided to honor the historic nature of this site, by re-inventing a new engineering marvel, the Kinzua Sky Walk. Constructed using six of the original towers, the new skywalk features a partial glass floor overlook. The scenic views from the skywalk offer 360 degree views of the Kinzua Gorge. Spectacular year round, in the fall, the colors of the forest turn into a carpet of blazing orange, brilliant yellow and ruby red.

The towers toppled by the tornado remain where they fell as a testament to the power of nature. A new trail, the Kinzua Creek Trail, allows visitors to hike down the side of the gorge to view the fallen remains.

At the Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center travelers can discover both the power of man and the power of nature. Displays showcase the builders and engineers, including General Thomas L. Kane, and Octave Chanute, who built the first viaduct in 1882. Other displays showcase the natural habitat of the gorge and surrounding forest. On the first floor, the Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Shop features locally handcrafted and artisan items.

The Kinzua Sky Walk and the Kinzua Bridge Visitors Center are located within the Kinzua Bridge State Park, 296 Viaduct Road, Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania. The park and the skywalk are open seven days a week from 8am to dusk. The visitors center is open from 8am-6pm daily. Admission is free to the skywalk, the park and the visitors center. For more information call 814-778-5467 or go to visitANF.com/kinzua-sky-walk.

BY AIR: TOUR IN A VINTAGE BI-PLANE

Views from the sky offer amazing landscapes as you soar above the forestlands of the Kinzua Gorge and the upper Alleghenies in a 1943 open-cockpit Boeing Stearman with experienced pilot Bruce Klein. This bi-plane ride is a safe and enjoyable - as well as memorable - experience. Take advantage of a bird’s eye view to see the picturesque beauty of the fields, forest, rivers, and streams from above. One manmade architectural attraction best seen by air is the amazing Kinzua Sky Walk at the Kinzua Bridge State Park. As part of the Allegany Plateau, the views of the hillsides, valleys and vast forestlands are truly a remarkable site when seen from the air.

Vintage Bi-Plane Rides leave from the Bradford Regional Airport, 212 Airport Drive in Lewis Run, Pennsylvania. Traditionally the best fall foliage viewing is the second or third week of October. Individual rates, group rates, and gift certificates are available. Call ahead to book your flight at 814-642-9486 or 814-558-5376.

TWO BY LAND: SMETHPORT MANSION DISTRICT & BRADFORD’S NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT

For those seeking amazing architecture, two walking tours - one in Smethport and one in Bradford - offer a time capsule view of America. The Smethport Mansion District Walking Tour highlights 32 mansions built during the late 1880’s. Many are prime examples of Victorian architecture, and two - the Mansion District Inn and the Blackberry Inn - are now operated as bed & breakfasts.

The Bradford National Historic District Walking Tour uncovers the fascinating past of this early boom town built by the first Oil Barons. Prime examples of Art Deco architecture from the 1920s include the Hooker-Fulton Building, the Zippo Manufacturing Office with its famous Neon Zippo Sign, and Marilyn Horne Hall - the site of the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center. The Main Street Movie House, still operating today as a movie theater, opened in 1935 with Miss America attending the Grand Opening.

TRAIL CENTRAL: MILES OF HIKING, BIKING & MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAILS

The Allegheny National Forest Region offers over 600 miles of multi-use, four-season trails. Promoted as Trail Central, this area offers a wide variety of trails. The Marilla Trail System features a wooden covered bridge at Marilla Bridges Trail, massive rock formations along the Marilla Rocks Trail, and an old-growth forest along the White Pine Trail. Difficulty levels range from easy to more-difficult. The Timberdoodle Flats Interpretive Trail is great for birders, and the North Country National Scenic Trail stretches 96.6 miles, offering backpackers a true deep forest experience. As you explore the area by land you will discover local wildlife, birding sites, and the natural attributes of this hardwood forest known for producing the finest Black Cherry timber in the world.

The newest section of trail in the region is the Knox & Kane Rail Trail. This first section of completed trail connects the Kinzua Bridge State Park to the village of Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania. This 3.8-mile trail is paved, with interpretive signage and benches along its length. An easy trail, it is family-friendly for both hiking and biking. It is a non-motorized trail. Future plans include developing the entire rail corridor of 73.8 miles for trail use.

The Marilla Trail System is an interconnected trail system of six separate trails of different difficulty levels. A local favorite is the Marilla Bridges Trail, which loops around the Marilla Reservoir. This 1-mile loop offers forest and water vistas. Highlights include a covered wooden bridge, three rustic wooden trestle bridges, and a delightful gazebo located at the southwestern corner of the trail. Fishing and kayaking are allowed.

Other trails in the Marilla Trail System include Marilla Springs Trail: a 3.6-mile point-to-point trail which is slightly more aggressive, and Bullis Hollow Trail: an 8.3-mile trail connecting Marilla Springs Trail to Tracy Ridge Campground in the Allegheny National Forest via sections of the North Country Trail. The Cornelius Connection at Gilbert Reservoir is a 2.4-mile linear trail which spans from Marilla to Gilbert Reservoir. This is a dirt path trail through mixed hardwood forest and is great for snowshoeing. It is an un-groomed trail. Trailheads for the Marilla Trail System are located near both reservoirs. From Bradford, take PA Route 346 west for five miles to reach trailhead parking.

Jakes Rocks Mountain Biking Tail is a 30 to 40-mile system of trails designed by Trail Solutions, a world class trail company affiliated with IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association). This stacked loop mountain biking trail system appeals to riders of all skill levels. Jakes Rocks is located west of the Allegheny Reservoir; the village of Kane can serve as a great hub for riding, as bikers can travel from their room via PA Route 321 north to the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, then north on Forest Road (FR 262) to the trailhead. Lodging sites in Kane include Spoonwood Inn, Kane Manor, and at the intersection of Rt. 219 and Rt. 6, Lantz Corners Getaway.

The Kinzua Valley Trail is a 7-mile biking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trail. Trailheads are in Westline and at the Red Bridge Campground in the Allegheny National Forest. This 7-mile linear trail winds along picturesque Kinzua Creek. The surface of the trail is crushed limestone, and it is a family-friendly trail with easy access and slight grades, making it ideal for cross-country skiing in the winter. In the village of Westline, the Westline Inn offers delicious dining in a rustic atmosphere. It is perfectly acceptable to wear your outdoor gear in for a meal. Guest rooms offer charming old-fashioned brass beds and no electronics, making this an excellent getaway for those seeking an escape into nature.

TWO BY LAND: ATV & UTV RIDING

Enchanted Mountains Endless Trails is the newest ATV trail system located in Derrick City, Pennsylvania. For information call 814-558-0459.

Majestic Kamps & Lost Trails offers year-round riding opportunities. The trails are all one-way, beginning and ending at the trailhead, with colored arrows to guide you. Multiple trails are available for different riding abilities. The Main Loop, marked in green, is an easy trail for beginners to intermediate. A variety of activities are held throughout the year including drag races and holiday celebrations. Rustic camping and a limited number of on-site rental units are available. Enjoy riding from your room. Fees are by the day, or an annual pass may be purchased. Majestic Kamps and Lost Trails is located along Rt. 46 in Rew, Pennsylvania. For information call 814-465-9979 or click on majestictrails.com

ATV, UTV and snowmobile rentals are available from Myers Motorsports located at 3176 Rt. 219, just north of the intersection of Rt. 219 and Rt. 6, in Lantz Corners, Pennsylvania. Please be sure to call ahead to reserve your rental to avoid disappointment. They will deliver equipment to nearby trails with prior arrangement. Phone 814-779-3745 or myersmotorsports.info.

PLAN YOUR ADVENTURE

A helpful planning tool is the the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Guide & Map. This guide book is available by calling 800-473-9370. Downloadable trail maps along with a map and photos of local lodging choices are available at visitANF.com.