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4 Ways To Hike To Cook Forest Fire Tower

Cook Forest Fire Tower

The Cook Forest Fire Tower is located in the heart of Cook Forest State Park, just south of the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. This remarkable structure stands at 87.5 feet tall and was constructed in 1929 as a lookout for fires in the surrounding forest.

Like most fire towers in the United States, the Cook Forest Fire Tower is retired. However, it can still be climbed nearly to the top for astounding views of the Clarion River Valley below. So, how do you get to this intriguing tower?

There are several ways to get to the Cook Forest Fire Tower, from a leisurely quarter-mile stroll from the parking lot to an adventurous 5-mile hike! And yes, you can bring your pets along!

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1. From The Parking Lot (Easiest)

Trail map of cook Forest Fire Tower Trail

If you’re limited on time or don’t want to go on a strenuous hike, you can get to the Cook Forest Fire Tower with an easy walk from the Fire Tower parking lot

However, this road is usually closed in the winter. If you have to walk down the road to the trailhead, it will add an extra 2.6 miles to your adventure. You can download a Cook Forest hiking trails map from the PADCNR website to get your bearings.

On a side note, you may hear people in the area calling it ‘Cooks Forest Fire Tower.’ It’s a colloquialism in the area, as many call this state park ‘Cooks Forest’ instead of ‘Cook Forest.’

  • Where to park: Park at the Seneca Point Overlook/Fire Tower parking lot
    • GPS: N41.3222, W79.2121
    • From Route 36: Take Old Fire Tower Road (either entrance) until you come to the parking lot. It’s a loop, so you will eventually run into the lot!
  • Length of hike: This accessible Cook Forest Fire Tower Hike is 0.5 miles.

Step-By-Step Guide

To get to the Cook Forest Fire Tower from the parking lot, head to the southern end of the lot (towards the restrooms). You will see a wide path with a gate across and a sign for Fire Tower and Seneca Point. This is the trailhead.

1. Follow the trail for 0.1 miles to the first intersection. Take a left to head to the fire tower.

Cook Forest Fire Tower Trail direction.

2. The trail splits ahead briefly before reconnecting, so you can take either trail.

Trail split at Cook Forest to the fire tower trail.

3. As the split trails reconnect, you will be at the fire tower (about 0.1 miles later). Climb up or enjoy the views from the ground of this historical structure!

View from the top of old Fire Tower #9 in Cook Forest.

2. Seneca Trail To Cook Forest Fire Tower

Seneca Trail To Cook Forest Fire Tower

This is the standard ‘hike’ to the Cook Forest Fire Tower. The Seneca Trail is popular, especially in the summer. This hike starts at the intersection of River Road and Route 36, and parking is available at the State Park Office.

  • Where To Park: Park at the Cook Forest State Park Office
  • Length of hike: Out-and-back 2 miles total

Step-By-Step Guide

From the Cook Forest State Park Office, head south toward River Road and the bridge. Before the bridge, there will be a sign on your right indicating the park office. Behind that sign, you can see the start of the Seneca Trail. This is the trailhead.

1. From the trailhead, follow the wide path into the forest for 0.5 miles. 

2. At the 0.5-mile mark, you’ll hit the first intersection. Straight ahead will be a sign indicating the Seneca Trail, Baker Trail, and Deer Park Trail. Turn left to continue on the Seneca Trail (the North Country Trail).

Trail sign in Cook Forest.

3. Follow the narrow trail through mountain laurels until it opens up. You will see another sign for the Seneca Trail and a cabin through the woods to let you know you’re on the right track!

Seneca Trail sign with log cabin in the back.

4. After 0.4 miles, you’ll hit the next intersection. Here, turn left.

Hikers on the trail to the Fire Tower in Cook Forest PA.

5. The trail splits ahead but reconnects shortly after at the Fire Tower after a quick 0.1-mile walk from the last intersection.

Split in the trail to Fire Tower.

6. Once you reach the fire tower, you can climb up to the top, take in the views, and head back the way you came to finish the hike!

3. Mowhawk Trail To Cook Forest Fire Tower

Trail map via the Mohawk trail.

When we visited Old Fire Tower #9 (Cook Forest Fire Tower), the Seneca Trail was closed due to a wicked wind storm that had downed many trees. So, we took the Mohawk trail instead.

It leads to the same place as Seneca and adds about a half mile onto the hike. 

  • Where To Park: Park at the Cook Forest State Park Office
  • Length of hike: Out-and-back 2.5 miles total

Step-By-Step Guide

The Mowhawk trail starts across from the intersection of Forest Road and Route 36 to the north of the Park Office. Head north (away from the river) until you spot the junction of Forest Road, less than a tenth of a mile away.

1. Across from Forest Road will be the trailhead for Mohawk Trail, with a sign and a gate across the trail.

Start of the Mohawk trail with a gate across the trail to stop cars.

2. From the trailhead, head uphill for a little over a tenth of a mile until you see another sign for the Mohawk Trail pointing to the right. Take a right here.

Pawd on the trail in Cook Forest.

3. Follow the yellow blazes along the trees if you meander off the trail. After another 0.4 miles, you’ll come to the top of a hill at a 4-way intersection. Turn left here.

Part of the Mohawk trail and showing you where to turn.

4. Follow this trail for 0.2 miles until you come to a sign and an off-shoot trail to your left. At the sign, continue straight, following the blue and yellow blazes and ignoring the off-shoot trail (Seneca Trail).

Another intersection on the trail in Cook Forest.

5. Continue on this trail for another 0.4 miles. You’ll approach a steep hill, climb it, and be at the next intersection. Here, take a left to go to the Cook Forest Fire Tower.

Another turn from the Mohawk trail to Seneca Trail.

6. Ahead, the trail will split briefly and come back together at the fire tower. You can take either trail.

A fork in the trail heading to the Fire Tower and Seneca Overlook.

7. After another tenth of a mile, you’ll be at the fire tower. Climb up for a fantastic view of the Clarion River Valley, and then head back the way you came to finish the adventure!

4. Henry Run Sawmill Dam To Cook Forest Fire Tower (Most Challenging)

The final way to get to the Cook Forest Fire Tower is by using the Baker Trail, passing by the Henry Run Sawmill Dam and Waterfalls, and then hiking up to the Fire Tower.

This is the most challenging route, but it is definitely worth it for the double feature of seeing a hidden waterfall and the Old Firetower! If you only want to visit the waterfall, we have a step-by-step guide on how to get to Henry Run Falls here!

  • Where to park: Park off Gravel Lick Road on a small pull-off. Parking here is limited.
    • GPS: N41.3204, W79.2453
    • Google Maps: Type in “Trailhead for Bakers/North Country Trail” and look for a small gravel pull-off just before (if coming from the north) or just after (if coming from the south).
  • Length of hike: Out-and-back 5 miles total
Showing the parking lot and start of the trail.

Step By Step Guide

To start, head south from the gravel parking lot (toward the river) for about 100 feet. On the left, you’ll see clear yellow and blue blazes that mark the trailhead. Jump on this trail to start your adventure!

Blue and Yellow Blazes, also the trail to the fire tower.

1. Climb the narrow trail for about 0.3 miles until you reach Scurry Overlook. This is an excellent opportunity to take photos and rest on the provided bench.

Robyn and Pawd at the Scurry Overlook.

2. Continue on for another mile before hitting an intersection with a registration box. Here, turn left onto the wide path.

Registration box on the trail, read it to see who is hiking through.

3. Soon after turning left, you’ll see a trail that cuts off to the right. Take this trail that leads down to a wooden bridge.

Turn in the trail to the fire tower, Jarrod and Pawd showing you the way.

4. Cross the wooden bridge and hang a right to continue on the trail. At this point, you should be able to hear the falls! Continue on the path for a tenth of a mile until you see an off-shoot to the right. It is not clearly marked, so keep a sharp eye out.

Side trail to the Henry Run Sawmill Dam Falls on the way to the fire tower.

5. Enjoy the falls and explore the short trail to the Clarion River before heading back up to the wide path. From here, take a right to continue on the Baker Trail/North Country Trail. 

6. Follow the wide trail for about 0.2 miles. On the left, you’ll see a sign for the River Trail. Ignore this and continue straight for another mile.

7. After a mile, you will crest a hill and be at the fire tower. Enjoy the views, and then head back the way you came to finish the hike.

River trail sign and fire tower in the back ground.

Hiking Cook Forest Fire Tower With Pets

Cook Forest State Park is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your pup or feline friend along for the adventure!

We have a few Cook Forest specific tips if you decide to bring your furry companion with you to the Cook Forest Fire Tower:

  • Ticks: The ticks are pretty bad in Pennsylvania. Always check over your pet after a hike and remove any unwanted hitchikers. We pack the TickCheck Tick Remover Tool to remove any ticks that have latched on.
  • The Firetower: While there are no signs that prohibit pets on the firetower stairs, they are steep and narrow, making it difficult to bring your dog with you. Consider leaving them with a hiking partner at the bottom.
  • Water: Always bring enough water for your furry adventure partner. We love the Springer Travel Dog Bottle. It fits most cupholders, making for easy travel. Excess water drains back into the bottle, eliminating wasted water that happens with collapsible bowls.
  • Snakes: Rattlesnakes are common in this area, so pay special attention around dense leaf litter and rocky areas. We have guides for what to do if your dog or cat is bitten by a snake to prepare you for any situation!
  • Mud: When the adventure is over, you may want to wipe your adventure buddy down before letting them back in the car. We love the hypoallergenic Vetnique Labs Furbliss Pet Bathing Wipes.

In addition to the above gear, consider bringing along a post-hike treat for your hiking buddy! Maybe a bone, a catnip toy, or a delicious puppoccino from a nearby ice cream shop!

Cook Forest Fire Tower: Scenic Views And Trails Await!

There are four different ways to get to the Cook Forest Fire Tower. You can choose the length, difficulty, and time you want to spend in the beautiful Cook Forest before getting to the Fire Tower. 

Cook Forest is one of the most popular state parks to hike in the area, so it can get busy in the summer! Even in the winter, you will likely run into other people at the Ol’ Fire Tower. 

Have any stories about the Cook Forest Fire Tower? Let us know in the comments below! We love to hear about your adventures, and bonus points if it includes a furry friend!

For more hiking guides, check out our hiking blog!


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