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32 Things To Do Near Cook Forest, PA

Robyn at Cook Forest

You’ve got your sights set on Pennsylvania, huh? And you’ve stumbled upon Cook Forest – a national natural landmark. I was lucky enough to grow up near this vibrant wilderness, and Robyn? Her family’s been soaking up the beauty of this area since she was just a kiddo. 

Spread across 8,500 acres, Cook Forest (referred to by some as ‘Cooks’ Forest) is nothing short of Pennsylvania’s own slice of pristine wilderness. This untouched marvel serves up a compelling mix of jaw-dropping natural landscapes, heart-racing outdoor activities, and that irresistible charm only local spots possess. 

Rated one of the top 50 best state parks in America!

So, let’s dive deep into Things to Do Near Cook Forest, PA. We’re about to suggest 32 must-try activities that everyone can enjoy – even your beloved furballs! So gather the family, leash up the pups, and let’s hit the trail!

This post includes affiliate links, but we only recommend items we would use ourselves. And if you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission. No sponsorships, just the truth about our favorite finds.

1. Rent A Cabin

A Fire at the cabin.

If you’re like me, the first thing on your adventure list might be scoring a sweet place to stay. And let me tell you, the cabins near Cook Forest are where it’s at! Picture this: a cozy, rustic cabin tucked right into nature’s pocket. 

Some even come with hot tubs! These hideaways are more than just a place to snooze; they’re your home base for exploring the beauty of Cook Forest.

Robyn’s family has a cabin near Marienville, and oh boy, do they love their getaways to this neck of the woods. Why not follow in their footsteps and check out these cabins for yourself? 

You can kick back at your comfy cabin while planning your next day’s escapades for things to do near Cooks Forest, PA. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure!

Cabin in the woods near Cook Forest.

2. Beartown Rocks

Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania, Beartown Rocks is famous for its quirky rock formations. They’re like nature’s own sculptures, standing tall and proud against the sky. This place also boasts some truly spectacular views of the scenic Clarion River Valley. 

So, what can you do at Bear Town Rocks? 

  • Hiking: If you’re a fan of hiking trails, then you’re in luck. The trails here will take you through some stunning landscapes, with every step revealing a new aspect of this unique place. 
  • Picnicking: If you prefer a more laid-back approach, why not pack a picnic and enjoy lunch amidst these remarkable rocks? Imagine tucking into some sandwiches while basking in the sun, with the sights and sounds of nature as your backdrop. Now that’s an experience to remember!
  • Rock climbing: This spot also boasts some seriously awesome bouldering opportunities. Sure, it might be a little off the beaten path and could use a bit of love, but that’s where the charm lies. It’s an undiscovered gem just waiting for climbers like us to explore.

How To Get To Beartown Rocks

This unique area is in Sigel, off Corbett Road, in Clear Creek State Park. It’s a little bit east of Cook Forest, making it close enough for a day trip to explore the fantastic rock formations.

You can type in ‘Beartown Rocks’ on Google Maps or use the GPS coordinates N41.30242 and W79.06039 to find the parking lot.

3. Lost in the Wilds Brewing

Lost in the Wilds Brewing is in Shippenville, Pennsylvania. Its picturesque taproom and spacious outdoor seating make it the perfect spot to unwind after a day of adventure. 

Whether you’ve spent your day hiking the trails, climbing the crags, or simply exploring the local sights with your furry friend, this brewery offers a warm welcome to all, including your pup!

Each Lost in the Wilds Brew captures the spirit of the PA Wilds, offering a taste experience as unique and varied as the landscape itself. Check out our review of Lost in the Wilds Brewery here!

Lost in the wild brewery, Robyn and Pawd.

The Beers

Now, let’s talk about what we really care about – the beers! With a rotating selection, there’s always something new to discover at Lost in the Wilds Brewing. 

One standout is their winter stout, brewed with additions of gingerbread vanilla. This Gingerbread Stout is an absolute must-try, offering a comforting blend of flavors just right for those chillier days.

So, next time you’re in Shippenville, don’t miss the chance to stop by Lost in the Wilds Brewing, located at 21964 Route 66, Shippenville, PA.

Another photos of Robyn and Pawd by the heater outside of Lost in the Wild Brewery.

4. Clear Creek State Park

Located just a stone’s throw from Cook Forest, Clear Creek State Park is the under-the-radar sibling that deserves just as much attention. 

This place is a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with 25 miles of scenic trails winding through lush forests and along the sparkling waters of Clear Creek.

What To Do At Clear Creek State Park

If you love the outdoors, you’ll love Clear Creek State Park. There are boundless things to do within the 1,901 acres of mixed hardwood and evergreen forests.

  • Hiking: 29 miles of trails will keep you busy for days. Explore the trails in June and July to witness blooming mountain laurels and rhododendrons. You can find the Clear Creek State Park Map here to check out the trails!
  • Pavillions: Wanting to get the family together for a picnic? Check out one of the 5 pavilions available at Clear Creek State Park.
  • Camping: 52 campsites are available in the park, each with a picnic table and fire ring. Cabins and yurts are also available for rent.
  • Water Activities: A beach area is open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Kayakers and canoers can float down the Clarion River.
  • Hunting and Fishing: 1,000 acres of Clear Creek State Park are open to hunting during established seasons. Fishing is permitted along the Clarion River.
  • Winter Activities: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can be done in the winter. Skiing is recommended on the Clear Creek, Saw Mill, and Truby Trails.

And don’t be surprised if you meet some furry or feathered locals along the way. Clear Creek State Park is teeming with wildlife, from deer frolicking in the meadows to eagles soaring overhead. So, keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars ready.

5. Devil’s Den

Devil's Den Summit

Right next door to Cook Forest is the town of Ridgway. Just south of there is something more than an ordinary hiking spot. Devil’s Den is a natural masterpiece sculpted by the hands of time. 

It boasts some of the most remarkable rock formations in the state, each with its own unique shape, size, and texture. As you navigate these towering stone structures, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world where nature is the master artist.

But what really sets Devil’s Den apart is its captivating aura. This place has an eerie yet enchanting quality that gives it a sense of mystery. Whether it’s the way the shadows dance on the rocks or the hushed whispers of the wind, something about Devil’s Den stirs the adventurer in us.

If you have a tripod dog like us, you can read about how to prep your three legged dog for outdoor adventures here! That way, you can bring them along to the spectacular views at Devil’s Den.

How To Hike Devil’s Den

The Devil’s Den hike is a 3.3-mile trek that starts at around 1,300 feet elevation and ends at a gorgeous scenic overlook at 2,175 feet.

  • Start at the North Trailhead Clarion-Little Toby Creek Trail off Portland Mills Road (N41.39644, W78.75006).
  • Head east along the trail, which remains flat for the first 0.8 miles. After this, get your lungs ready!
  • Start heading uphill for 0.9 miles to the top of the overlook. You’ll be greeted with a pock-marked rock created over thousands of years of erosion from wind and rain.
  • Head back down the way you came to finish the hike.

Check out our step-by-step hiking guide of Devil’s Den here! It gives you an in-depth look at how to accomplish this spectacular hike.

When you’re done, head to St. Mary’s to the Straub Brewery for a victory beer! Don’t worry; it’s on our list, too, so stay tuned to learn about this fantastic tap house.

6. Minister Creek

Robyn and Vern hiking at Minister Creek. Just one of the things to do near cook Forest, PA.

Minister Creek, located off Triple 6s, is a tranquil oasis that invites you to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in the wonders of the great outdoors.  

The Minister Creek Trail, a popular 6.6-mile loop trail, is the star attraction here. It starts at the Minister Creek Campground and loops around Minister Creek. A fantastic overlook is your reward near the 4.8-mile mark before returning to the campground.

Minister Creek Campground has got you covered if you’re looking for a place to camp under the stars. With family campsites situated along the creek, it’s the perfect place to end your day of exploration.

And yes, your doggo is welcome here too! We have a fantastic guide on dog hiking gear essentials so you can pack everything your trusted companion needs.

Minister Creek Hiking Trail Sign at the trail head.

7. Clarion River Brewing Company

Nestled in the heart of downtown Clarion, this local craft brewery is more than just a place to grab a beer – it’s an experience. With its handcrafted microbrews, it’s a spot that will make you feel right at home.

What sets the Clarion River Brewing Company apart is its commitment to quality and diversity. Their beer menu is a testament to this, offering a wide array of choices for every kind of beer lover. 

Whether you’re a fan of hop-heavy IPAs, smooth stouts, or fruity ales, there’s something for everyone here. Their brews use local ingredients, adding a unique twist to each sip.

The place radiates a laid-back charm that’s perfect for a post-adventure hangout. Their friendly staff is always ready to recommend a brew or dish, adding to the overall welcoming atmosphere.

8. Straubs Brewery

Can you tell we like beer? Imagine stepping into a building where traditional German American Lagers and Craft Beers have been handcrafted for over a century using fresh Allegheny mountain water. Sound like your kind of place?

Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or a casual drinker looking to try something new, you’re sure to find a brew that hits the spot at Straub. We started drinking Straub Light as a nice summer beer, then moved on to the lager and fell in love!

But Straub Brewery Inc. isn’t just about the brews. It’s about the experience. The moment you step into their Visitor Center & Tap Room, housed in a historic Straub family home built in 1917, you’re welcomed into a warm, friendly atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.

Kyle and Vince enjoying the sun at Straub's Brewery in Saint Mary's PA

9. See The Nebraska Bridge

Known affectionately as “The Little Bridge That Could,” the Nebraska Bridge is a testament to the resilience and charm of Tionesta. Constructed in 1933, the Nebraska Bridge has endured yearly flooding and is revered by many in the area in a nearly cult-like fashion.

This bridge carries a two-lane road and sidewalk over a stream that’s part of the Tionesta Lake flood control impounding area, making it an integral part of the community. But what makes the Nebraska Bridge so unique?

Well, have you ever seen a bridge underwater?

Is The Nebraska Bridge Open?

There is a Facebook page called “Is the Nebraska Bridge Open,” it can be checked daily for information from locals on whether or not the Nebraska Bridge is open, flooded, or completely underwater.

What makes the Nebraska Bridge so unique is that it often gets flooded in the Spring. Sometimes, the water flows midway up the bridge, and occasionally, you wouldn’t even know the bridge was there!

It’s truly something to see when a bridge is partially submerged in water. So, come springtime, remember to make your way to the Nebraska Bridge, east of Tionesta, along Golinza Road (Nebraska Road).

If you need more inspiration to go see the bridge, check out our article on the reasons why you should visit Nebraska Bridge.

10. Stay At The Clarion River Lodge

Nestled along the banks of the Clarion River, this lodge is a home away from home. Once a secluded private estate, the Clarion River Lodge has been completely remodeled under new ownership to offer guests a comfortable and memorable stay.

What To Do At The Clarion River Lodge

  • Book a room: Imagine waking up to the sound of the river flowing gently outside your window and the sight of the lush green forest that stretches as far as the eye can see. Each room at the lodge is spacious and offers a beautiful view of the Clarion River, so you’re never far from nature’s beauty.
  • Cozy up to the fire: The lodge also features outdoor gas fire tables, perfect for those chilly evenings when all you want to do is cozy up with a hot drink and watch the stars. 
  • Water activities: If you’re a trout fishing or canoeing fan, you’ll be thrilled to know that the lodge provides private bank access to these activities.
  • Grab some food: The Clarion River Lodge also promises a delightful culinary experience. With its great food and atmosphere, it’s a place where you can unwind after a day of adventure in the Cook Forest.

11. Forest County BigFoot Festival in June

If you didn’t know, Bigfoot is rumored to roam the Allegheny National Forest. And every June, Marienville holds a festival in its honor!

Imagine a day spent hunting for Bigfoot through the lush, green trails of the forest. This isn’t just a game; it’s a full-fledged Geocache event that adds a dash of adventure and a sprinkle of suspense to your day. Who knows, you might just spot the elusive creature!

Local Foods, Brews, Vendors, And Family Fun!

The fun doesn’t stop at Bigfoot hunting. The festival also features a fantastic lineup of local vendors offering everything from handcrafted goods to mouthwatering food. Speaking of food, did we mention the craft beer? 

Breweries from across the region gather to serve their finest ales, lagers, and more, making this a feast for the eyes and the palate.

And if you’re worried about things to do with kids near Cook Forest, PA, the Forest County BigFoot Festival is a family-friendly event with plenty of activities to keep the little ones entertained. From face painting to games, there’s something for everyone.

12. Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion, PA

The Autumn Leaf Festival has been an annual tradition since 1953, initially held in conjunction with the Clarion State College Homecoming. Today, it draws over half a million people each year from across the globe, making it a beloved event on the region’s calendar.

nine-day extravaganza set against the backdrop of Clarion’s charming downtown area, adorned with radiant hues of orange, red, and gold. The air is filled with the enticing aroma of food from local vendors, and the streets are lined with stalls showcasing handcrafted goods, local produce, and more.

The Autumn Leaf Festival is also known for its grand parade – a spectacle of music, dance, and creative floats that winds its way through the heart of the town. It’s a sight to behold and a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

And let’s not forget the contests! Each year, the festival hosts various competitions, adding an element of friendly rivalry to the festivities. The schedule changes each year, but the festival is typically held at the end of September and the beginning of October. 

13. Knotty Pines

Located conveniently on Route 36, Knotty Pines is known as the home of “The Best Sandwiches in the Forest,” this place has been serving mouthwatering meals and friendly service for years.

Knotty Pines has a warm and inviting atmosphere where you can relax and refuel. The walls are adorned with rustic decor, paying tribute to the surrounding forest and giving the place a cozy, cabin-like feel. 

Knotty Pines offers a diverse menu that caters to all kinds of cravings. From hearty steaks to fresh seafood, every dish is prepared with care and presented with flair. And let’s not forget about their specialty drinks – the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

14. Chicken Hill Distillery

Tucked away in the beautiful hills of Elk County, Chicken Hill Distillery is known as the first distillery in the county. Thanks to its artisanal spirits and commitment to quality, it has quickly gained popularity among locals and visitors alike.

When you walk into the Chicken Hill Distillery, you’re greeted with a plethora of choices. And the best part is you can sample a variety of moonshine flavors for free! I recommend trying the delicious Chicken-N-Flip Flops Moonshine or the Apple Pie Moonshine!

At Chicken Hill Distillery, you can also enjoy a moonshine mix drink while you visit. Their online alcohol sales make it easy for you to take a piece of Elk County home with you.

Moreover, this local gem has started to spread its wings and expand into new areas. From Gettysburg to Ligonier, Chicken Hill Distillery is bringing its unique flavors and experience to more and more people.

15. Flying W Ranch

Known for its horseback riding trails, scenic camping spots, and thrilling rodeos, the Flying W Ranch has been serving up unforgettable experiences for years.

A vast expanse of lush greenery under the open sky offers breathtaking views at every turn. The experience is as authentic as it gets, transporting you to a simpler time and slower pace of life.

Flying W Ranch is renowned for hosting the Allegheny Mountain Championship Rodeo. This event draws crowds from far and wide. From barrel racing to bull riding, the rodeo offers a thrilling spectacle that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

And let’s not forget about their cabins. After a day of adventure, there’s nothing better than retiring to a cozy cabin surrounded by nature’s serenity. You can also set up camp under the stars, making it a perfect spot for family outings or a getaway with friends.

16. Double Diamond Deer Ranch

If you’re looking for an up close and personal experience with white-tailed deer, head to the Double Diamond Deer Ranch at 12211 Route 36 in Clarington, PA. If you come at the right time, you can feed the deer!

This deer ranch showcases three different color phases of the white-tailed deer:

  • Brown
  • White
  • Piebald

Double Diamond Deer Ranch is also home to the Buck Barn, a unique exhibit featuring over 100 taxidermy displays. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about Pennsylvania wildlife and appreciate the beauty of these creatures up close.

And let’s not forget about their “Big Trucks Big Fun Playground.” After spending time with the deer, kids can burn off some energy on the playground, making it a perfect spot for family outings.

17. Fall Tour de Forest In Marienville, PA

Calling all ATV enthusiasts! The Fall Tour de Forest is a special event in Marienville, Pennsylvania. It’s typically held at the end of September and the beginning of October. It takes you on an adventure only available at the Tour de Forest.

Usually, many forest roads and trails in the Allegheny National Forest are closed to ATVs. During the Tour de Forest, these roads are open and give ATV riders a breathtaking experience like no other.

Take a leisure ride through the Allegheny National Forest, following easy routes for all skill levels. Enjoy the views and camaraderie, and experience something that only happens once a year!

18. Jake’s Rock Overlook

Jakes Rocks Overlook

Perched at just under 2,000 feet elevation, Jake’s Rock overlook provides stunning views of Jackson Bay, the Allegheny Reservoir, and Kinzua Dam. It’s stunning in June when the mountain laurels bloom and at peak fall colors in October.

The overlook trail is an easy 0.5-mile loop trail. Along the trail, you’ll see many interesting rock formations, some with trees growing right out of the boulders! At the quarter-mile mark, you’ll approach the overlook and be greeted with gorgeous views of the valley.

Jake’s Rock has more to offer than just an overlook – check out any of the other hiking trails for an adventure to remember:

  • Seneca
  • Coal Knob
  • Tuttletown
  • Longhouse
  • Blacksnake
  • Deerfoot

Once you’re done at Jake’s Rocks, you can head across the Allegheny River to Rim Rock.

19. Rim Rock Overlook

Rim Rock Overlook

Rim Rock Overlook is located just across the Allegheny River from Jake’s Rock and is well worth the trip from Cook Forest. It offers a different perspective from Jake’s Rock, looking over the Allegheny River and the southern Allegheny Reservoir.

To get to the overlook, you can walk down an easy 0.1-mile path from the parking lot and turn back. For a more adventurous trip, complete the 0.3-mile loop. It takes you down a set of stairs between two rock formations and loops back to the parking area.

The loop trail is a bit more challenging but offers unique views of the rock formations. Speaking of rocks, if you love rock climbing, you’ll find a variety of trad and top roping routes to explore. If you’re adventurous, bouldering is also available, though no official routes have been established.

With the vast boulder field, this place is perfect for bringing your adventure cat! Our guide on cat hiking gear essentials will prepare your kitty for forest escapades.

20. Kinzua Dam

Kinzua Dam

Standing at the base of this enormous structure, you can’t help but marvel at its sheer size and the power it harnesses. You can truly appreciate the complexity of hydroelectric power generation here amid the constant hum of rushing water.

Did you know the dam also plays a crucial role in flood control and maintaining navigation depths in the Allegheny and Ohio rivers? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the Kinzua Dam has prevented flood damages in excess of $1.2 billion!

When you visit the Kinzua Dam, you won’t be able to walk across it in its entirety. However, you can still walk along the southern portion and look over the side to view the rushing water and the many many catfish that swim below, waiting for some dropped food.

21. Buzzard Swamp

Buzzard Swamp Sign

Buzzard Swamp is a hidden gem located in the southern portion of the Allegheny National Forest that is an extraordinary, wild, and beautiful place. And with 11.2 miles of hiking trails, there’s plenty to see.

Fifteen man-made ponds span the Buzzard Swamp wildlife area, each bustling with activity from beavers, mink, turtles, fish, and waterfowl. You can spot black bears, snowshoe hares, bald eagles, and the endangered Northern Goshawk!

The rich biodiversity can be attributed to the 40 acres of protected propagation area for nesting waterfowl. The ponds offer an essential connection in the Atlantic Flyway migration.

If you’d like to hike this area, we have a fantastic guide on hiking Buzzard Swamp.

22. Biking down Knox and Kane Rail Trail

Robyn walking down the Knox and Kane Trail.

This long-distance trail stretches an impressive 73.9 miles from Lantz Corners to the Kinzua Bridge State Park and Kane to Lamont. It also features a connecting link from Kane to Route 219. 

But don’t let its length intimidate you; it’s generally considered an easy route, making it an excellent choice for cyclists of all skill levels.

As you pedal down the trail, you’ll be treated to a beautiful blend of forests, meadows, and waterways. And with its well-maintained paths, you can focus on enjoying the ride and taking in the scenery.

At the end of the trail, you’ll find the Kinzua Bridge State Park, a must-visit that’s home to the historic Kinzua Viaduct. 

23. Kinzua Bridge State Park

Kinzua Bridge State Park is a true testament to the power of nature and the indomitable spirit of human engineering. Once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Kinzua Viaduct, a former railway bridge turned skywalk, is the star of the show here.

The park isn’t just about the skywalk. It offers a whole host of outdoor activities. If hiking is your thing, you’re in luck! With trails winding through the lush forests, it’s a hiker’s paradise. The trails vary in difficulty, making them suitable for all experience levels. And yes, most trails are pet-friendly, so your furry friend can join in the fun!

Got a knack for picnicking? The park has got you covered! With picnic tables scattered throughout, you can enjoy a relaxing meal amid nature’s splendor. And if you’re planning a family outing, the park’s playground will surely keep the little ones entertained.

How A Tornado Tore Down The Eighth Wonder Of The World

The Kinzua Viaduct Railway was initially constructed in 1881. By 1882, it was considered the highest railroad viaduct in the world. It was rebuilt in 1900 to accommodate heavier trains, and 150 men completed the job in just 105 days! 

Official freight traffic was discontinued in 1959, but excursion trains started taking passengers across the massive bridge in 1987. In 2002, the bridge was closed to all traffic due to rust.

On the historic day of July 21, 2003, an F1 tornado ripped through the gorge, crashing into the side of the viaduct and tearing down 11 support towers. But from the metaphorical ashes rose a fantastic opportunity: the Kinzua Skywalk.

Kinzua Skywalk

Kinzua Skywalk

Imagine this: you’re standing 301 feet above the ground on a skywalk, taking in breathtaking panoramic views of the vast forest landscape. Exciting, right?  

The skywalk extends 624 feet into the Kinzua Gorge, offering a thrilling walk with a glass-bottomed observation deck at the end. Talk about a bird’s eye view!

The remnants of the eleven towers are still scattered among the gorge, visible from the skywalk, constantly reminding us of the power of Mother Nature.

24. Cook Forest State Park

Our holder dog Gatsby cooling his paws in the creek at Cook Forest State Park.

Let’s set our sights on Cook Forest State Park. And yes, you heard that right – it’s Cook Forest State Park, not ‘Cooks’ Forest State Park. Don’t worry if you’ve been saying it wrong – I have been saying it wrong for my entire life!

Sprawled across 8,500 acres in scenic northwestern Pennsylvania, Cook Forest State Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders. It’s bordered by the picturesque Clarion River, adding an extra dose of charm to this already stunning park.

There’s plenty to do in the park, but here are some of the most remarkable and memorable sites in Cook Forest.

Forest Fire Tower

Now, let’s talk about some of the key sites within the park. First up, the historic fire tower. This structure stands tall as a testament to the park’s history of forest conservation. 

Back in the day, it was used as a lookout for detecting forest fires. Today, it is an intriguing landmark and a must-visit spot for those looking to delve into the park’s past. Climb the nine flights of stairs for a birds-eye view of the surrounding forest.

Read our guide on how to hike to Cook Forest Fire Tower to figure out how to see this historical structure.

Robyn and Pawd at Fire Tower in Cook Forest

Seneca Point Overlook

Next on our list is Seneca Point. This breathtaking overlook offers panoramic views of the Clarion River Valley. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, soak in the scenery, and snap some memorable photos. 

Trust us; the view is worth every step of the hike!

If you decide to visit Cook Forest in the summer with your dog, we have some great information on the best dog cooling vests to keep your pup happy and comfortable during the dog days of summer.

Robyn and Pawd at Seneca Overlook Point

Forest Cathedral

Hiking the FOrest Cathedral Trail.

And then there’s the Forest Cathedral. Known for its stands of old-growth forest, this area is home to some of the tallest trees in the northeastern U.S., including hemlocks and white pines that tower up to 200 feet high. 

Walking through this natural cathedral is a humbling experience, reminding us of the grandeur and beauty of nature.

So, whether you’re a hiker, a history buff, a nature photographer, or someone looking for a peaceful getaway, Cook Forest State Park has something to offer. And remember, no matter how you say it or spell it, the adventures and memories you’ll make here are what truly matter.

Check out our guide on hiking Forest Cathedral here!

Cook Forest State Park Forest Cathedral trail Sign.

25. Elk Viewing

Elk County, Pennsylvania, is a nature lover’s paradise, but it’s the majestic elk that truly steals the show. Home to the largest elk herd in the northeastern United States, this county offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to witness the grandeur of these creatures in their natural habitat.

There are several prime locations in Elk County where you’re likely to spot these magnificent animals. Here are a few spots you definitely don’t want to miss:

  1. Winslow Hill: Hands down, Winslow Hill is the best place to see elk. It’s a popular spot, and for good reason. The landscape is dotted with elk throughout the day, providing countless opportunities for awe-inspiring sightings and photographs.
  2. Hicks Run Viewing Area: Adjacent to the Hicks Run Cemetery along Route 555 on the Elk State, this viewing area offers another fantastic opportunity to observe the elk.
  3. Fields Ridge Road Areas: In the Centre County portion of the Sproul State Forest, both the Yost Run Falls and Fields Ridge Road areas provide good opportunities to see elk.
  4. Elk Country Visitor Center: This is the premiere elk viewing location in Elk County. The site is situated on 250 acres and provides three different viewing areas, each offering a unique perspective of the elk herd.

Visiting Elk County in the fall is a real treat as you can witness bull elk chasing after does in the rut season. Their bugling calls echo through the hills, creating a symphony of sounds that is as haunting as it is beautiful.

Remember, elk are most active in the early morning and evening, so plan your visit accordingly to maximize your viewing time. And remember, never approach an elk. Keep wild animals wild for their safety and yours.

26. Persnickety in Saint Marys, PA

Tucked away in the historic heart of Saint Marys, Pennsylvania, lies a unique shopping gem – Persnickety Gift Boutique. This charming shop is a must-visit for anyone seeking original items crafted with love and ingenuity.

Persnickety is a treasure trove filled with the creative works of local artisans and crafters. Among the eclectic mix of items, you’ll find everything from handmade jewelry and home decor to original artwork and one-of-a-kind gifts. Each piece tells its own story, reflecting the passion and creativity of the artist who created it.

Persnickety is conveniently located at 10 Erie Ave, Saint Marys, PA 15857. The boutique is nestled within a beautiful historic building and adds to the town’s charm. It offers a unique shopping experience that blends the old with the new. Head to Straub Brewery afterward for a rewarding victory beer!

27. Deer Creek Winery, Shippenville, PA

Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Western Pennsylvania, Deer Creek Winery is a hidden gem that offers an unforgettable experience for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

This family-owned winery, located at 3333 Soap Fat Rd, Shippenville, PA 16254, is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a serene escape amidst lush vineyards and world-class wines.

What Does Deer Creek Winery Offer?

Deer Creek Winery is renowned for its diverse selection of wines. From their Funtime Wine to their Classic Collection Wines, there’s something to suit every palate. The winery strikes an impressive balance between traditional wine-making techniques and innovative flavors, ensuring a unique tasting experience for every visitor.

The winery hosts regular events, like live music performances, making it a vibrant hub of local culture and entertainment. 

Additionally, the winery houses a beautiful bed and breakfast, The Inn & Manor at Deer Creek Winery. With cozy rooms and a welcoming ambiance, it’s the perfect place to extend your winery experience into a relaxing weekend getaway.

28. Logyard Brewery, Kane, PA

Located in the quaint town of Kane, this brewery is a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates quality, sustainability, and community-oriented businesses. Because they only use local ingredients, you won’t find a similar taste elsewhere!

Logyard Brewery is situated at 20 Wetmore Avenue, Kane, Pennsylvania 16735, amidst the lush greenery of the forest. This scenic location only adds to the brewery’s charm, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing day out.

From their juicy Double Dry-hopped New England Style 2X IPA, which offers an irresistible mix of mango, citrus, and tropical fruit notes, to their intriguing Logyard Rise & Shine Neipa, there’s something to delight every beer lover’s palate.

But what truly sets Logyard Brewery apart is its commitment to quality and sustainability. They believe in using hyper-local ingredients to create their unique brews, contributing to both the flavor profile of their beers and the local economy.

29. Discover Authentic Italian Flavors at Cousin Basil’s

At the threshold of beautiful Cook Forest, you’ll find our destination – Cousin Basil’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, formerly known as the Iron Mountain Grille.

Nestled at 134 Heinlein Strasse, in the heart of Cooksburg, Pennsylvania, Cousin Basil’s is a culinary adventure waiting to be discovered. When you step inside, you’re welcomed into a warm, rustic atmosphere that feels like a cozy Italian home.

Now, let’s talk about the real star of the show – the food. Imagine digging into a hearty plate of lasagna, the layers of pasta, cheese, and rich tomato sauce cooked to perfection. Or perhaps you’d prefer a classic Margherita pizza, its thin, crispy crust topped with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and aromatic basil. 

Hungry yet? Head over to Cousin Basil’s!

30. Float Down the Pristine Waters of Clarion and Allegheny Rivers

A sunny day on the Clarion River.

The waterways surrounding Cook Forest are aplenty. From the Clarion River to the mighty Allegheny, miles and miles are waiting to be explored.

One of the most treasured summer pastimes in Cook Forest is to float down the Clarion or Allegheny in an innertube. 

As you float, you can soak up the sun, the views, and the wildlife. Don’t be surprised if you spot a multitude of fish, blue herons, bald eagles, turtles, and water snakes.

Float Down The Clarion River

Let’s start with the Clarion River, a stunning waterway that snakes its way through the verdant landscape of Cook Forest. This river is pure magic, folks! Its calm, crystal-clear waters are perfect for a relaxing float trip. 

And the best part? You don’t have to worry about bringing your own gear. Our friends at Pale Whale Canoe Fleet have got you covered. They offer top-notch tube, canoe, and kayak rentals, so all you have to do is show up and let the river work its magic.

The dirtbags floating down the Clarion Rivers with the Ponticels.

Float Down The Allegheny River

Next up, we’ve got the mighty Allegheny River. Now, this isn’t just any river, pals. The Allegheny is a treasure trove of natural beauty, with towering trees lining its banks and wildlife aplenty. 

It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature. Outdoor Allegheny River Services is ready and waiting to hook you up with the best tubes in town. 

The shot of the Allegheny River.

31. Hop on Over to Frog Rock

Peeking out of the Tionesta Creek along scenic Triple 6s is Frog Rock. Now, you might be wondering, “Why on earth would I want to visit a rock that looks like a frog?” Well, let’s leap into it, shall we?

First off, Frog Rock isn’t just any old rock – it’s a local icon. This whimsical landmark has been putting smiles on faces for decades, and it’s easy to see why. With its wide, painted grin and googly red eyes, Frog Rock has a certain charm that’s hard to resist. 

It’s like a quirky welcome sign, inviting you to explore Tionesta’s natural beauty.

Painted by a local artist, it is a testament to the creativity and humor of the Tionesta community. Plus, it’s perfect for those Instagram-worthy travel snaps! Most importantly, it reminds us not to take life too seriously.

32. Unwind at Cook Forest Wines: A Must-Visit for Wine Lovers

If you’re a fan of sipping fine wines in scenic locations, we have a treat for you. Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Cooksburg, PA, you’ll find a gem that combines the best of nature and viticulture – Cook Forest Wines.

Located at 15361 Route 36, within the charming MacBeth’s Cabins, Cook Forest Wines is a haven for those seeking serenity and good vibes. As soon as you step in, you’ll be greeted by an array of locally-made wines from Laurel Mountain Winery. From robust reds to crisp whites and delightful dessert wines, there’s something to suit every palate.

What sets Cook Forest Wines apart isn’t just their wide selection of wines but also their location. You’re sitting by the beautiful Clarion River, glass in hand, as you sip on some of Pennsylvania’s finest wines. The lush greenery of Cook Forest surrounds you, and all you can hear is the gentle rustling of leaves and the soothing flow of the river. 

Nothing to ‘wine’ about that!

Finishing Up Things to Do Near Cook Forest, PA

That wraps up our journey on 32 unique things to do near Cook (or Cooks!) Forest, PA. From the birdwatcher’s haven of Buzzard Swamp to the scenic bike trails of Knox and Kane Rail Trail and the awe-inspiring heights of Kinzua Bridge State Park, there’s no shortage of outdoor excitement in this region for you, the family, and even the pets!

And when you’re done hiking, we’ve given you plenty of ideas for a victory beverage, whether it be beer, wine, or moonshine, and a number of restaurants to re-energize you after a long day of adventuring.

The real magic of Cook Forest lies in experiencing things first-hand. So get out there and revive your sense of wonder in this gorgeous area.

And hey, we’re always here to guide you on your journey. Check out our blog for more hiking, climbing, and traveling tips! Happy exploring, folks!



  1. Great article Jarrod! I loved reading this & believe it or not….i learned a couple things! I know the area has so much to offer, but enjoyed reading about 32 things to do- forgot about a couple!

    1. I’m glad to hear it! I know we could have made this list a “1,000 things to do near Cook Forest” but we can only write so much! I know we will be expanding into the different seasons as well! Thanks for reading and sharing!

    1. It definitely is! I would advise going down in the spring when it warms up. The water might be a bit cold but the water level is higher. You can go in summer as well but it might be very low in some places. For my little wife, it doesn’t affect her floating but I got stuck and had to walk many times!

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